Prince Harry is expected to marry and have children with new girlfriend Meghan Markle within the next year, claim bookmakers.

The couple, who are believed to have been dating since the summer, are serious despite only confirming their relationship last week when the Prince released a statement hitting out at press speculation over his links to the Suits actress.

The 32-year-old decried the "outright sexism and racism of social media trolls and web article comments," toward the American and expressed his "disappointment" at not being "able to protect her."

However, the press coverage does not appear to have intimidated Markle, who told Suits producers in Toronto that she needed a week off as she had "something important to do" and was "desperate" to visit Prince Harry.

The 35-year-old has has since been seen visiting Kensington Palace and stocking up on food supplies.

Meghan Markle
Meghan Markle plays Rachel Zane in American legal series Suits Getty

The intensity of the relationship has led bookmakers to believe the couple are set for a potential Christmas engagement.

Paddy Power revealed exclusives odds to IBTimes UK that show the pair are 3/1 to marry next year and 6/1 to have a baby before 2018.

Spokesperson Lee Price said: "It seems like Harry could be making Meghan sparkle with a bit of bling on her ring finger soon.

"The unprecedented official statement from Kensington Palace indicated that the two are serious and likely to marry, and that the American actress has found her Prince Charming."

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Despite these long-term plans, Markle did not make her first official appearance with the Prince at England's International Test match against South Africa at Twickenham this afternoon, as had been widely expected.

Charlene, Princess of Monaco instead stood alongside the British royal as he watched England battle to a 37-21 victory, attending in his official capacity as Vice Patron of the Rugby Football Union.

It is thought Markle instead stayed at Nottingham Cottage - located within the Kensington Palace grounds - a residence previously frequented by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, otherwise known as Prince William and Kate Middleton.