“We were introduced by a secret friend, who we will protect her privacy,” Prince Harry revealed during his post-engagement interview with Markle. Now, two months after the couple got engaged, that “secret friend” has been revealed.
Von Westenholz, 33, has been friends with Prince Harry since the two were young, as their families have been close for several years. She met Markle while doing PR work and decided to set her two friends up on a blind date.
Von Westenholz is a dog-lover from London, who currently serves as PR Director for clothing and accessory brand, Ralph Lauren.
Here is what you need to know:
1. She Has Been Friends With Prince Harry for Years & Her Sister Almost Dated Him
Von Westenholz and Prince Harry have been friends since they were kids. They met through their respective families — her dad, Baron Piers von Westenholz, has been longtime friends with Harry’s dad, Prince Charles.
Over the years, Violet and Harry have become really good friends. Although the two were never romantically involved with one another, they used to talk frequently, and Violet was a confidant of sorts for the young prince, who just couldn’t seem to find the right girl to settle down with, according to E! News.
“Harry was having a really hard time finding anyone. It’s hard enough finding someone new to date. He can hardly go on Tinder or a dating app like normal people, but to meet someone that you actually connect with, that was proving to be almost impossible. It was something he had confided in his closest friends about; he was ready to meet someone but it was so hard to actually find the right person,” a source told E! News.
“At one point, Violet’s younger sister, Victoria, was suggested as a girl that Harry should pursue. In 2011, the prince and Victoria were spotted together giggling during the Beaufort point-to-point before they headed off to a friend’s house, where they partied until dawn,” reports the Telegraph.
Their relationship seemed casual, however, and never actually amounted to anything serious.
2. She Met Meghan Markle While Doing PR Work at Ralph Lauren
According to her LinkedIn page, von Westenholz has worked in PR for several high-end brands including Bulgari and Bottega Veneta. In April 2015, she became the PR Account Director for Dolce & Gabbana, before heading over to work for Ralph Lauren the following year.
She is currently listed as PR Director for Ralph Lauren, which is how she met Meghan Markle. The two women ended up hitting it off and quickly became friends. It wasn’t too long after their chance meeting that von Westenholz decided to play matchmaker.
“Meghan had been a part of the London social scene for a while and had slotted into the high society set really easily. And so when Harry told Violet he was having trouble finding someone, Violet said she might just have the perfect girl for him,” a source told E! News.
Markle and Prince Harry met each other on a blind date back in the summer of 2016. According to the Daily Mail, von Westenholz and Markle had just worked together “days before” the blind date took place.
“It was definitely a set-up. It was a blind date. I didn’t know much about him and so the only thing I had asked her when she said she wanted to set us up was, I had one question, I said ‘Was he nice?'” Markle recalled during her first sit-down interview with her fiance.
“I’d never, never even heard about her until this friend said ‘Meghan Markle.’ I was like, ‘Right okay, give me, give me a bit of background, like what’s going on here?’ When I walked into that room and saw her and there she was sitting there, I was like ‘Okay, well I’m going to have to really up my game here,'” Prince Harry added.
You can watch the couple’s full interview in the video below.
Soon after meeting, the two went to Botswana together, where they spent a week away from the world, getting to know each other, and ultimately falling in love. The two announced their engagement in December.
3. Her Father Is Baron Piers von Westenholz
Baron Piers von Westenholz is a former Olympic skier and a good friend of Prince Charles. The two families have enjoyed many ski trips together over the years, many of which Prince Harry and Violet von Westenholz have been on.
In addition to his athleticism, Piers von Westenholz is also a famed antiques dealer, a trade that he has been involved in for more than four decades. His specialty is antiques for “large English country houses.” He is also a skilled interior designer, and owns his own company — one that sees clients “by appointment only” — offering both services.
“Piers began decorating in the Sixties when he set up a business with David Mlinaric, and he has owned antique shops with Robert Kime, as well as working closely with antiques expert Christopher Gibbs. Today, Piers operates his appointment-only business from his home in Hertfordshire, aided by a team of four. His commissions include the decoration of a house in Notting Hill, a flat in Chelsea, a farm in Wiltshire, a country house in Berkshire and an apartment in Madrid. Recently completed are a villa in Rome and a manor house in Hampshire,” according to House & Garden.
4. She Isn’t Married, Was Previously Linked to Singer James Blunt, & Loves Dogs
Von Westenholz was previously rumored to have a relationship with singer James Blunt, according to the Daily Mail. Her current relationship status is unknown, but she is believed to be unmarried.
There are at least two Instagram accounts appearing to belong to Violet, but both are private. It is unclear which one, if either, is actually hers. Both accounts feature photos of Westenholz with her dog.
You can see one of the photos below.
Her sister, Victoria, on the other hand, is married to Thomas McCall, who “works in the online gaming industry,” according to the Telegraph. When Victoria’s engagement was announced, Prince Harry was said to be “thrilled” for her, and was going to try to make it to her wedding.
An Instagram account appearing to belong to Victoria is set to private. The featured image of that account shows her holding a child, believed to be her son, which would make him Violet’s nephew. It is quite possible that the child could be in the upcoming royal wedding.
You can see the photo below.
5. She Will Most Likely Be a Guest at the Royal Wedding in May
Violet von Westenholz is expected to be on Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s guest list. The couple is set to tie the knot on Saturday, May 19, 2018.
The royal wedding, which is set to be televised around the globe, will take place at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor. The couple is expected to invite hundreds of guests to their nuptials, but the venue isn’t quite as large as Westminster Abbey, where Harry’s brother, Prince William, married Kate Middleton back in 2011.
“It’s a bit smaller, it’s outside of London, and that would just give them the opportunity to maybe have it a little bit more personal, a little bit more low-key, which is what Harry can obviously do, since he’s not going to be the king,” ABC News royal contributor Victoria Murphy explained.