Meghan Markle has revealed she was dating Prince Harry for six months before it became public, saying: "We're two people who are really happy and in love."
The Suits actress met the royal in July 2016 and their relationship has brought a deluge of attention.
When news of their pairing broke it caused such a media frenzy it prompted him to take the unusual step of releasing a statement.
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However, she told US magazine Vanity Fair dating Prince Harry has not changed her.
She said: "I can tell you that at the end of the day I think it's really simple.
"We're two people who are really happy and in love. We were very quietly dating for about six months before it became news, and I was working during that whole time, and the only thing that changed was people's perception.
"Nothing about me changed. I'm still the same person that I am, and I've never defined myself by my relationship."
In November 2016, the statement from the Prince said Markle had been "subject to a wave of abuse and harassment".
It added: "Some of this has been very public - the smear on the front page of a national newspaper; the racial undertones of comment pieces; and the outright sexism and racism of social media trolls and web article comments."
It continued: "Prince Harry is worried about Ms Markle's safety and is deeply disappointed that he has not been able to protect her. It is not right that a few months into a relationship with him that Ms Markle should be subjected to such a storm.
"He knows commentators will say this is 'the price she has to pay' and that 'this is all part of the game'. He strongly disagrees. This is not a game - it is her life and his."
Of the attention, Markle told the magazine: "It has its challenges, and it comes in waves - some days it can feel more challenging than others.
"And right out of the gate it was surprising the way things changed. But I still have this support system all around me, and, of course, my boyfriend's support."
She added: "We're a couple. We're in love. I'm sure there will be a time when we will have to come forward and present ourselves and have stories to tell, but I hope what people will understand is that this is our time. This is for us.
"It's part of what makes it so special, that it's just ours. But we're happy. Personally, I love a great love story."