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The Duke of Sussex, 38, released his unprecedented memoir last week, reflecting on his royal childhood, military service in Afghanistan, and how everything changed when he met his future wife. Prince Harry shared the full story of how he met Meghan, writing that he was blown away by her beauty when he saw her photo for the first time on Instagram.
Meghan, 41, playfully posed for a selfie with a friend name Violet, and Harry reached out to the mutual pal for her contact info on July 1, 2016 — his late mother's birthday.
Prince Harry said that Meghan messaged him first on Instagram, and they immediately connected over a shared love of Africa, as Harry's feed was filled with photos from the country (a revelation the couple first made in Harry & Meghan, now streaming on Netflix).
Chris Jackson/Getty Prince Harry and Meghan Markle at the Invictus Games
"Eventually, we exchanged phone numbers, and mitigated the conversation over to text, going late into the night," Harry wrote in Spare, adding that he was "texting like a teenager" through the following day.
"It occurred to me how uncanny, how surreal, how bizarre, that this marathon conversation should have begun on July 1, 2016. My mother's fifty-fifth birthday," he added.
Tim Graham Photo Library
Princess Diana tragically died in a car crash in Paris at age 36 in 1997, and Prince Harry revealed that he emotionally drove through the same tunnel ten years later.
Samir Hussein/WireImage; Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty
In an excerpt exclusively shared by PEOPLE ahead of Spare's release, Harry said that speeding through the Pont de l'Alma in 2007 — and reaching the other side — felt surreal.
"She's dead, I thought. My God, she's really gone for good," he wrote.
PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE The book jacket of Prince Harry's memoir 'Spare'
Prince Harry covered last week's issue of PEOPLE, where he opened up about mourning his mother and how he feels her spirit more than ever.
"I struggled for years to accept or even speak about my mother's death. I was unable to process that she was gone," the Duke of Sussex tells PEOPLE. "I'm not sure anyone can ever truly have closure when they lose a 2 parent, or anyone for that matter, especially when that grief may be the only thing left of them.
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"Personally, I had to go through a lot of internal work and experience to finally face it, in order to rid myself of the pain that was held or trapped in my mind and body. Serving in the military was a turning point — it saved me and gave me purpose in the darkest of times," he explains. "Therapy also allowed me the space to address much of my trauma and grief by removing life's filters — cleaning the windshield, and seeing life as it is, rather than through the fog."
The healing process has allowed me to get to a place where I now feel the presence of my mum more than ever before," Prince Harry says of Princess Diana. "She's with me all the time — my guardian angel."