LONDON (CBSNewYork/AP) — Prince Harry and his girlfriend, American actress Meghan Markle, are engaged, palace officials announced Monday.

Prince Charles made the announcement on Twitter adding that the wedding will take place this coming spring.

The couple made a brief appearance before photographers on the grounds of Kensington Palace hours after their engagement was announced.

Harry, wearing a blue suit and tie, said he was “thrilled” and that details about his proposal would come out later. He was then asked if the proposal was romantic, and he replied: “Of course!”

Markle, who said she was “so happy,” was wearing an engagement ring for the first time in public. She held Harry’s hand and rubbed his arm.

They left with their arms around each other. The couple gave their first interview later in the day.

Just an amazing surprise that was so sweet and natural and very romantic,” Markle said. “He got on one knee.”

Gushing as any woman does over her engagement story, Markle was visibly giddy recounting the moment she said yes to Prince Harry.

She said it was an instant yes.

“Yes, in fact, I could barely let him finish proposing. Can I say yes now?” Markle said.

“She didn’t even let me finish,” Prince Harry said.

As CBS2’s Valerie Castro reported, the ring is a stunner with three diamonds – the smaller stones belonged to the late Princess Diana. The center stone was handpicked from the prince from Botswana, a place the couple often visits.

When asked what his mother’s reaction to Markle would have been, Prince Harry said: “I think they would have been thick as thieves, without question. I think she would be over the moon — jumping up and down so excited for me.”

Rumors had been swirling for days with royal watchers expecting an announcement.  The announcement says the couple became engaged earlier this month.

It says 36-year-old Markle has met Queen Elizabeth II, and Harry also has received the blessing of Markle’s parents.

Prince Harry, 33, informed his grandmother Queen Elizabeth about the engagement weeks ago.

Harry’s brother, Prince William, and his pregnant wife Kate welcomed Markle to the royal family.

“We are very excited for Harry and Meghan,” they said in a statement. “It has been wonderful getting to know Meghan and to see how happy she and Harry are together.”

Congratulations also came in from the queen and her husband, Prince Philip, and from Prime Minister Theresa May.

“I think Prince Harry’s engagement to Meghan Markle is a game changer for the royal family,” said Roya Nikkah, Royal Correspondent for The Sunday Times.

The couple plans to live in Nottingham Cottage at Kensington Palace. Markle is also reported to have started the sometimes time-consuming process of moving her dogs from Canada to Britain. She recently left her television show, a development that helped fueled engagement speculation.

“I think what it show is the royal family are finally ready to modernize a bit and let Harry follow his heart rather than follow convention, and that’s groundbreaking for the royal family,” Nikkah said.

Harry and Markle were photographed together for the first time in September when they were seen holding hands during a wheelchair tennis competition at the Invictus Games in Toronto, Canada.

Harry is very popular with both Brits and Americans. Pinny, who is British, told 1010 WINS’ Sonia Rincon that everyone is happy to see him happy.

She said since Princess Diana’s death attitudes within the family have changed, and the fact that Markle is divorced and American probably won’t matter anymore.

“It used to be that like Princess Margaret for instance was vilified for falling in love with somebody who’s divorced, but I don’t think that’s going to be the case,” she said.

Markle was married once before. She was born and raised in Los Angeles, and her acting career took off when she landed a breakout role on the television show “Suits”.

Markle is accustomed to the spotlight, but now must prepare for her greatest role as a member of the royal family.

“Meghan Markle is the Grace Kelly of her generation,” said royal biographer Andrew Morton. “She’s going to arrive in London an ordinary citizen and as soon as she marries, she’ll have a title.”

(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)