Just like Meghan we're from the US but moved across the pond for love
As Meghan Markle prepares for a new life in the UK with the Royal Family, two American women who have moved to Northern Ireland after falling for Northern Irish men tell Stephanie Bell what the bride-to-be is likely to miss most
Meghan Markle will have to adjust to a whole new way of life as a royal when she marries Prince Harry - but she also faces leaving her home, family, friends and acting career in America.
Life will change dramatically for the star of hit TV show Suits when she becomes a member of the Royal Family next year.
The couple, who have known each other for 18 months announced they would marry this week. It was revealed that Harry proposed earlier this month while the couple were making a chicken dinner together. The prince designed the engagement ring himself using a diamond from Botswana -a place that means a great deal to the couple - and two stones from his late mother Princess Diana's jewellery collection.
Meghan has already given up her acting job playing Rachel Zane in the successful legal drama - a role that had seen her based in Toronto for several years. The pair will marry next May in Windsor Castle.
Maren McCarthy (38), a social worker from New Jersey, moved to Northern Ireland in June to be with her fiancé John Haughian (38), an engineer from Derrytrasna, outside Lurgan. She says:
John and I met 12 years ago when he was in New Jersey on a holiday visiting his brother, who married a friend of mine.
I spent a year on a work visa in Northern Ireland in 2007 and John has come out to spend time with me in America.
In January of this year he surprised me with a trip to Paris. We talked and decided that we wanted to settle down.
It seemed easier for me to go to Northern Ireland as John has a big family here and my family is only small.
The visa process can be a nightmare. I have got a settlement visa and the whole process took around four-and-a-half months and cost a ridiculous amount of money.
Also, you have to apply from your own country, which meant being apart from each other during that time, and that was tough.
After that is the nationality visa (whereby you apply for UK citizenship) process which takes up to five years and costs around £10,000. It is a lot of money and stress and such a lot of hurdles we have to go over to be together.
I very much doubt if Meghan will have the same problems moving here as a member of the Royal Family. At least she is wealthy and will be able to afford it.
I do miss a lot about home and I am sure Meghan will too. Thanksgiving, which took place last week, is one of my favourite holidays and I really felt it when I wasn't there for it.
I didn't do Thanksgiving here because I was working and I don't think it would have felt the same. I do miss my family and my friends, and flights are so expensive for trips home to the States.
I also miss the food. While you can get healthy food here, it's not as easy to buy really good, healthy organic food.
Where I lived in New Jersey, there were four places within walking distance of my home where I could get organic green juice freshly made, and that's something you just don't see here. I also miss the sun. That is really hard. Where I lived on the New Jersey shore, I was right on the beach and I miss that.
Harry and Meghan seem like the perfect fit. He is very cool and modern and they really suit each other. She will have to adapt to another culture, which won't be easy, although I am sure she will be able to go back and forth to visit home when she wants as she has the money to do that.
Some people have said she could be the next Princess Diana - very hip and a breath of fresh air - and I kind of agree. She is a celebrity, so she's used to being in the spotlight. That should make it easier for her.
While there is a lot I miss about home, I do love it here. I am living in the country and I love the peace and the slower pace of the lifestyle.
Northern Ireland is very family-orientated and the people are absolutely amazing. I really love the people.
There is a huge sense of community and purpose here and, as much as I miss home, the people have made me feel very welcome.
I lived just an hour from New York city and, to some extent, I feel as if I have stepped back in time living here in the country, but I love it and there is a real feeling of home here too."
Brittany Breslin (28), a public relations account director from Pennsylvania, met IT worker Richard Rea (34) seven years ago during a holiday in Northern Ireland. The couple, who live in Carryduff, married in 2014 in Richard’s hometown of Comber and then flew to the US for a celebration with family there. Brittany says:
I have family members in Portadown and when I finished college, as a graduation gift my parents bought me a ticket for two weeks’ holiday to visit them.
While there I was introduced to Richard by a family friend and we just hit it off straight away.
I was due to start university in Washington DC for four years and for that time we had a long-distance relationship which was a bit of a nightmare.
I would come to Northern Ireland for the first part of my summer break and Richard came to me for the second half so we spent our whole summers together.
I also visited during my Christmas break for a month and Richard came to me in my spring break.
It was in July after my graduation in May 2011 that I moved here full-time. Because I had family ties here — my father’s family live in Portadown — it didn’t seem that crazy that I would move here to live rather than Richard moving to America.
We got married in 2014 in a chapel in Comber and had our reception in Belfast.
It was a small wedding with around 40 people and my parents. A few of my university friends came over for it.
A couple of weeks later we had a small party at home in the US for the people who couldn’t come from America.
I love it here and I am really happy. I go home twice a year to see my parents and they were over visiting us in September.
There are things I miss, although not so much now as at the start when I first moved here.
I have some very specific food cravings sometimes which I can’t really satisfy and I also find the darkness of winter very hard.
Where I grew up we had really hot summers and very cold winters and when I first came over I suffered from a vitamin D deficiency because of the dark winters. I found myself very fatigued and was surprised to discover that it was a lack of this vitamin.
I miss the brightness and I miss snow as well.
I grew up in a small town and would have been very close to all my school friends and I miss that.
I also miss family. My brother had a baby girl who was two in October and it’s hard to know I am the aunt who will only see her twice a year.
However, I do love my life here and I wouldn’t want to move back home. I’m happy for Harry and Meghan, they always seem very down-to-earth.
I think it’s quite nice they have gone out of their circles to marry and they seem really well-suited.
Being from America, I was very surprised by the mixed race issue raising its head. I guess I can see where it is coming from but I think it’s good for the Royal family to get a bit of a shake-up.
Meghan will have a lot of adjusting to just being a Royal but also moving country too and giving up her career.
I was just out of uni when I moved here and didn’t have a career or a life established so I imagine it will be more difficult for her leaving behind everything she has built up over the years.”