Less than a week after their engagement was announced Meghan Markle joined Prince Harry for their first official appearance as a couple.
Hundreds of royal fans, some carrying flags, lined the streets of Nottingham today in hopes of catching a glimpse and photographs of the Prince and his actress/activist bride-to-be.
The trip to Nottingham is the first official engagement ahead of their planned tour of Britain in the next six months to give Markle an opportunity to learn about the country before their wedding at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle.
Today, couple traveled to the east Midlands in England to visit to a youth project and to raise AIDS awareness. Their fans followed, including Irene Hardman, 81, who has handed bags of Haribo to both Princes William and Harry and their father, Prince Charles.
‘It is absolutely wonderful and fantastic, and we privileged they’ve chosen Nottingham to be their first official engagement,’ she said, adding that she had another goodie bag ready to hand over. This one has two fridge magnets ‘so they don’t fight over it.’
It is Prince Harry’s third visit to Nottingham since October last year. The prince has long championed AIDS charities, following in the footsteps of his mother, Princess Diana.
The prince and his fiancee appeared eager to meet the public with Harry at one point asking someone ‘can I shake your hand?’.
He then smiled when a well-wisher shouted, from three or four rows back behind a crash barrier: ‘How does it feel being a ginger with Meghan?’
The former Army officer replied with a grin: ‘It’s great, isn’t it?’, when the man said the word ‘unbelievable?’, Harry responded ‘unbelievable’.
As the walkabout progressed a woman asked Ms Markle how she felt about being in Nottingham and she replied: ‘I’m so happy, it’s real good to be here’.
One of the stranger sights during the meet-and-greet with the public was well-wisher Frank Shelton who had brought his barn owl Kim to meet the couple.
At points during the walkabout, Ms Markle put a reassuring hand on Harry’s back and early on she was given a bunch of cream coloured flowers.
With no private secretary yet, she had to hold the bouquet and her handbag in the same hand but carried on greeting well-wishers. A little while later one of Harry’s aide took the flowers from her.
Ms Markle soon left her fiance’s side and walked to the other side of the road to greet hundreds of fans who were crowded behind crash barriers.
The couple then travelled to the nearby Nottingham Academy, in the Mapperley area of the city.
They were greeted by the school’s principal, Henry Kulaya, deputy principals Helen Foulger and Nicola Quinton, and staff from Full Effect, a programme working to mentor young people at risk of and affected by youth violence.
The Full Effect project has been supported by The Royal Foundation of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry since 2013.
During their visit to the academy, they heard first-hand from staff about the positive impact Full Effect is having on local school communities and students.