Britain's Prince Harry and Meghan Markle take part in an event as part of International Women's Day in Birmingham, central England. Picture: AP

Washington - With Prince Harry's engagement to US actress Meghan Markle, headlines are proclaiming that the 33-year-old prince has taken "the long route to love" and that the "third time's a romantic charm."

But has his route been particularly "long"? He's now engaged in his early 30s and had two prior serious relationships - plus several flings. All of which would be pretty normal if he were not a member of the royal family.

Prince Harry's first serious girlfriend was Chelsy Davy, whom he met in 2004 during his gap year in South Africa. (Davy is from Zimbabwe and is the daughter of a billionaire.) Davy studied law in Britain and went on to practice as a lawyer, yet the media often portrayed her as a "party girl." Of course, Harry did his fair share of partying himself.

In 2006, Catherine Davies, who went on to be a member of the 2010 season of Real Housewives Of D.C. (under the name Catherine Ommanney after a remarriage) told the Daily Mail about making out with Prince Harry after a night out in London when he was 21 and she was 34.

READ: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle open wedding to the public

"He kissed me, I didn't kiss him. I did nothing wrong. I certainly wasn't trying to seduce a 21-year-old," she told the tabloid. "I was quite taken aback by him. He's very mature." Pop Sugar describes this dalliance as occurring before Harry and Davy were in an "established relationship."

Prince Harry's first serious girlfriend was Chelsy Davy. Picture: Reuters

By 2007, Harry and Davy seemed to be officially together; they were spotted being affectionate at concerts and sporting events. They broke up after the prince missed Davy's 22nd birthday to go to a rugby match in Paris, according to the Telegraph. 

That split, however, didn't stick. In 2008, Davy showed up to watch Harry receive a medal for his service in Afghanistan. In 2009, they split up again. Davy announced their breakup in typical millennial fashion, in a Facebook post declaring "Relationship: Not in one." While they were broken up, Harry had brief relationships with singer and actress Natalie Imbruglia and TV presenter Caroline Flack.

By the end of 2009, Harry and Davy were back together, celebrating the prince's birthday in Botswana. In 2010, they broke up (during which Harry had a fling with Norwegian rock star Camilla Romestrand) and got back together again later that year, according to People magazine. After they finally broke up, the prince rebounded with lingerie model Florence Brudenell-Bruce.

Harry had a brief relationship with singer and actress Natalie Imbruglia. Picture: AFP

Having trouble keeping this all straight? Yeah, so are we.

In 2012, the prince started dating Cressida Bonas, a wealthy descendant of King Charles II whom Harry met through his cousin, Princess Eugenie. The couple went on a romantic ski trip to Kazakhstan and attended Bonas' sister's wedding together. However, according to the Sun, the couple split up in 2014 after Bonas was "overwhelmed by the attention she was getting while engagement rumours swirled around the young couple."

After his breakup with Bonas, Harry was romantically linked to singer Ellie Goulding; the pop star sang at William and Kate's wedding.

In 2012, the prince started dating Cressida Bonas. Picture: AFP

In 2016, Harry met actress Meghan Markle, whom he has fiercely defended against tabloid criticism. She's older than Harry, biracial, divorced and American, not the typical background for a British princess, which has brought on racist and sexist attacks. 

But the couple represents many of the changes in how their countries pair off: In the United States, one in six newlyweds are marrying someone of a different race or ethnicity, and in Britain, one in 10 marriages is interracial. 

The Washington Post