Trying rings for size aged 15: Meghan Markle shows off a sparkler during tour of a Swiss diamond house with a childhood friend

  • PICTURE EXCLUSIVE: Aged about 14 or 15, Miss Markle was given a tour of a diamond house with her friend
  • Smiling for the camera, the teenager can be seen holding out her left hand to show off a huge diamond ring?
  • The picture, from 1996, was taken two decades before the American actress, now 36, met Prince Harry?

Long before she knew she would marry a prince, a teenage Meghan Markle tries on diamond rings in Switzerland.

Aged about 14 or 15, Miss Markle was given a tour of a diamond house with her childhood friend Ninaki Priddy during a summer trip around Europe.

The holiday also included a sightseeing jaunt to Buckingham Palace as well as a stay at a hotel in Kensington.

Smiling for the camera in 1996, Meghan can be seen holding out her left hand to show off a huge diamond ring – not so different from the one Harry, 33, presented her with earlier this month.

Smiling for the camera in 1996, Meghan can be seen holding out her left hand to show off a huge diamond ring – not so different from the one Harry, 33, presented her with earlier this month.

This picture, from 1996, was taken two decades before the American actress, now 36, met Prince Harry.

Smiling for the camera, the teenager can be seen holding out her left hand to show off a huge diamond ring – not so different from the one Harry, 33, presented her with earlier this month.

The engagement ring, designed by the prince himself, holds three diamonds, two belonging to Princess Diana and a third from Botswana where he and Meghan have enjoyed romantic getaways.

But unlike the piece of jewellery which was revealed to the world on Monday, the young Miss Markle had to return these diamonds after posing for the picture.

A 15-year-old Meghan Markle poses in front of Buckingham Palace, with friend Ninaki Priddy, during a European trip in 1996

A 15-year-old Meghan Markle poses in front of Buckingham Palace, with friend Ninaki Priddy, during a European trip in 1996

Miss Markle showed off her sparkling engagement ring, which Harry designed himself, made from two diamonds which belonged to his late beloved mother Diana, Princess of Wales

Miss Markle showed off her sparkling engagement ring, which Harry designed himself, made from two diamonds which belonged to his late beloved mother Diana, Princess of Wales

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle appeared at a photocall at London's Kensington Palace yesterday.?Their 16-month whirlwind romance blossomed when they met through mutual friends

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle appeared at a photocall at London's Kensington Palace yesterday.?Their 16-month whirlwind romance blossomed when they met through mutual friends

Meghan 'will spend Christmas with the Queen at Sandringham'

As a newly-engaged couple, Harry and his bride-to-be may be invited to spend Christmas with Queen and the rest of the royals at Sandringham this year.

It is thought that the 36-year-old actress will secure an invite to the traditional festivities following the announcement of the engagement.

It would breakaway from tradition however, as Kate was not invited to join Prince William for Christmas in 2010 despite announcing their engagement a month before.

Both Christmas and the wedding details are still being drawn up - with the hotly-anticipated wedding guest list yet to be announced.???

But among the guests could be former US president Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama.?

Miss Priddy, 36, said: ‘We went to a diamond house, seeing the stones, putting the eyeglass on to measure dimensions and clarity… The last bit of the tour they brought out a bunch of engagement rings. And being kids, how could we not play dress-up for a second?’

Other pictures of the European trip, which included a five-day tour of Britain, show Miss Markle grinning outside Buckingham Palace. The full series of fascinating images of the American, who will in May officially become a member of the Royal Family, will feature in Saturday’s Daily Mail.

The photos, given exclusively to the Mail, will show Miss Markle throughout her youth – from singing at a concert as a small child to a night out with friends celebrating her university graduation.

It was reported last night that Harry had asked Meghan’s mother for her daughter’s hand in marriage.

An American magazine said Harry spoke to yoga instructor and therapist Doria Ragland about it when she flew from her Los Angeles home to join the couple at the prince’s Invictus Games event in Canada in September.

In their official engagement interview on Monday Harry waxed lyrical about his future mother-in-law, describing her as ‘amazing’.

He also said he had not yet met Meghan’s father Thomas Markle, who divorced Miss Ragland when their daughter was young, but had spoken to him on the phone.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle at the Invictus Games in Toronto
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle after announcing their engagement on Monday

Left, Harry and Miss Markle at the Invictus Games in Toronto, this year and right, on Monday after announcing their engagement at Kensington Palace

St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle in Berkshire has been chosen as the venue for the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle

St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle in Berkshire has been chosen as the venue for the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's wedding will take place at St George's Chapel in the grounds of Windsor Castle in May because it is a place 'close to the couple's hearts'

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's wedding will take place at St George's Chapel in the grounds of Windsor Castle in May because it is a place 'close to the couple's hearts'

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will marry in May?St George's Chapel in Windsor Castle, pictured, the interior of the church

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will marry in May?St George's Chapel in Windsor Castle, pictured, the interior of the church

The royal family have flocked to congratulate the happy couple after their engagement announcement on Monday afternoon

The royal family have flocked to congratulate the happy couple after their engagement announcement on Monday afternoon

Suits creator: We prepared for Meghan's exit

Writers on the US drama had already begun writing her character Rachel Zane out a year ago, it has emerged.?

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Suits creator Aaron Korsh explained he could see that the actress's romance with Harry was 'burgeoning' from the start.

He said the team decided to 'take a gamble that these two people were in love' - and make preparations for her potential exit well in advance.?

During an interview with broadcaster Mishal Husain, Korsh said: 'I knew from a year ago that this relationship was burgeoning.??

Meanwhile there was mystery over a post on Instagram by Harry’s ex-girlfriend Cressida Bonas, from whom he split in 2014.

The day after the engagement was announced the 28-year-old actress shared a message with her 6,000 followers which read: ‘No matter how educated, talented, rich or cool you believe you are, how you treat people ultimately tells it all.’

Miss Bonas accompanied the quote with the caption: ‘Truth #quotestoliveby.’

Internet users questioned whether it was directed at her ex, with whom she split up not entirely unacrimoniously, although it is more likely that it was not aimed at Harry.?

Meanwhile, the Duke of Cambridge spoke of his joy for Harry and Meghan and wished them 'all the happiness in this very exciting time' during an official trip to Finland.?

But he could not resist poking fun at the prince and quipped that he now expected his fridge to be safe from raids by his younger brother, who lives close to the Duke's Kensington Palace apartment.

Harry and Meghan's engagement excitement can be revealed in a series of candid and funny shots not shown to the millions who watched in Britain and later around the world?

Harry and Meghan's engagement excitement can be revealed in a series of candid and funny shots not shown to the millions who watched in Britain and later around the world?

Harry makes a funny face and makes Meghan laugh out loud in footage not shown to millions last night

Harry makes a funny face and makes Meghan laugh out loud in footage not shown to millions last night

Miss Markle as a baby with her father Thomas
Meghan Markle with her mother Doria Ragland

Left, Miss Markle as a baby with her father Thomas and right, the actress in later years with her mother Doria Ragland

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry attend the Wheelchair Tennis on day 3 of the Invictus Games Toronto 2017

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry attend the Wheelchair Tennis on day 3 of the Invictus Games Toronto 2017

Speaking during a visit to a Helsinki-based charity, William said the family were 'all very excited, delighted for them both and wishing them all the happiness in this very exciting time.??

And Meghan nephew vowed to gatecrash her wedding to Prince Harry even if he is left off the guestlist.

Thomas 'TJ' Dooley III, 26, of Mammoth Lakes, California, has revealed how he plans to visit Britain for the royal wedding at St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle in Berkshire.

The relative, who is a Domino's Pizza manager, told The Sun: 'I'd probably come to the UK for the wedding - even if I'm not invited. I am thrilled.'?

Also heaping on the praise was?global relief charity World Vision, who said Meghan would bring 'vast energy' to her future work as a member of the royal family.

The comments came after it was announced Miss Markle is giving up her current charitable commitments, including her work with World Vision, to focus on her new life as a royal with a 'clean slate'.??

Meghan's English roots! Genealogists claim royal bride-to-be is a distant relative of CHURCHILL

Meghan Markle will soon be joining Britain's most well-known family, but it seems the royal bride-to-be might already have some English relatives.

Genealogists have traced the 36-year-old's family tree and discovered that she might be a distant relative of Sir Winston Churchill thanks to a shared Essex-born ancestor who settled in the US in the 1600s.?

The former Suits star also has distant links to William Shakespeare, research reveals.?

Branching out: Meghan and Churchill's ancestor left Essex for a new life in Massachusetts
Distant connection: Meghan and Shakespeare also had a shared relative centuries ago

Branching out: Meghan and Churchill's ancestor left Essex for a new life in Massachusetts

The research was carried out by family heritage website MyHeritage.com, which allows users to delve into their personal histories.?

Experts concluded that Markle is William Shakespeare's fifth cousin 13 times removed on her mother Doria's side.?

Her connection to Winston Churchill is even closer as they are sixth cousin five times removed.?The unlikely pair are both descendants of Sarah and Zachariah Howe.?

Zachariah was born in Essex in 1640 and moved to?Lynn, Massachusetts, in search of a new life.?

There he met his wife, Sarah,?née Gilbert, who was the daughter of Matthew Gilbert, a man born in Somerset who later became the deputy governor of New Haven Colony.

Meghan is a distant descendant of their son, John, while Sir Winston can trace his lineage back to their daughter, Sarah Curtis.?

Aaron Godfrey, a spokesperson for MyHeritage.com, said: 'MyHeritage.com enables anyone to discover their family history easily, so when we heard the wonderful news about Harry and Meghan's engagement, we wanted to help Meghan discover some English roots of her own.

'I'm sure she will be delighted to know that she comes from such prestigious British stock.'?

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