How will Meghan Markle become a British citizen?

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Prince Harry and Meghan Markle talking and smilingImage source, Getty Images

How do you become a British royal? Well, you could be proposed to by a prince - and Meghan Markle already has that covered. But what about the British bit?

When it comes to becoming a citizen, Kensington Palace says Ms Markle will be treated like anyone else.

Prince Harry's communications secretary, Jason Knauf, said Ms Markle would be "compliant with immigration requirements at all times".

"I can also say she intends to become a UK citizen and will go through the process of that, which some of you may know takes a number of years," he added.

It is not currently known whether she will retain her US citizenship and take dual nationality.

Bringing Meghan into the country

First, she will have to apply for a family visa in order to remain in the country.

Since 2012, UK citizens have had to meet a minimum income threshold of £18,600 a year, or have cash savings above £16,000, to bring a partner into the country.

We don't know precisely how much Prince Harry earns, but he shouldn't have any trouble with that.

It's understood that he receives an income via his father. Prince Charles's estate, the Duchy of Cornwall, made him £20.7m profit last year.

And Prince Harry also has access to a large inheritance from his mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, which had been placed in a trust until he turned 30.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Ms Markle was born and raised in Los Angeles

Family visa applications will set you back £1,464, or £1,583 for a premium service.

Non-EU partners of British citizens coming into the country on a family visa also have to pass an English speaking test - unless they come from one of a list of countries where English is an official language, including the United States.

So US-born Ms Markle will be fine on this front.

If someone comes to the country as the fiancee of a British citizen, they must marry within six months.

With their engagement this month and the wedding planned for May 2018, they should just tie the knot in time.

Generally, before someone comes into the country as the partner of a British citizen on a family visa, they must submit a range of evidence proving their relationship is real.

This might include:

  • records of email, text and phone conversations
  • holiday photos
  • flight tickets
  • leases on shared apartments
  • mortgage documents

We simply don't know if Ms Markle has begun this process already.

Will they have to go to Croydon?

The initial visa granted will last up to two and a half years, after which time it must be renewed.

Home Office staff can ask couples to come to the Croydon headquarters of the UK Visa and Immigration service or one of six other immigration centres around the country for an interview, although not everyone will have to do this.

After coming in on a family visa, individuals must wait five years before permanent residency is granted, also known as "indefinite leave to remain".

Life in the UK

Only then can they apply for citizenship, provided they have spent no more than 270 days outside the UK in the past three years.

At this point, Ms Markle will have to take a test with questions on life in the UK, costing £50.

According to the website Life in the UK Test Web, this could include multiple-choice questions such as "Who is married to the Queen of England?" and "What is the relationship between the monarch and the government?"

In case Ms Markle needs any help, the Home Office produces an official handbook with everything she will need to know for the test.