Meghan sparkles in walkabout with Harry on first public outing

Prince Harry and bride-to-be Meghan Markle began their public life together with a whirlwind of handshakes and smiles as the crowd chanted their names during their first walkabout.

Friday, 1st December 2017, 1:54 pm
Updated Tuesday, 12th December 2017, 7:58 am
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle visit Nottingham

Hundreds of well-wishers had gathered in Nottingham to greet the couple and were not disappointed as the prince and his fiancee appeared determined to meet almost everyone on their first joint engagement.

In scenes reminiscent of the early days of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's married life, a sea of camera phones greeted their arrival along with chants of "Harry, Harry" and "Meghan, Meghan".

The American former actress appeared to take the outpouring of affection and interest from the well-wishers in her stride, looking confident as she greeted the crowds with a smile and handshake.

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Prince Harry and Meghan Markle visit Nottingham

Harry chose Nottingham, a city and its people who are close to his heart, as the place to introduce his bride-to-be to the UK.

During the walkabout, which lasted just over 20 minutes, Ms Markle was wrapped up against the cold in a long dark blue coat by Mackage, and boots, and was handed armfuls of flowers, chocolates and other gifts.

She was without gloves, so her engagement ring was on display, and carried a handbag - something Kate rarely does.

Avid fan Irene Hardman, who is well-known for handing bags of Haribo sweets to Harry, and first presented his father, the Prince of Wales, with two bags - the other for brother William - 20 years ago, was a familiar face in the crowd.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle visit Nottingham

The 81-year-old handed Ms Markle a goody bag containing fridge magnets and other gifts.

She said afterwards that the meeting was "very emotional".

Through tears of joy, she said: "I cried - she's wonderful, and it's fantastic. They're so genuine."

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 the former actress 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 blooms from her.

The former actress 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.

She brushed her long hair from her face and smiled broadly as she shook hand after hand before rejoining the prince a little later.

The love they have for each other was clear to see in the way they continually touched each other, held hands and glanced into each other's eyes.

They also were tactile with the crowds stopping to touch people on the arm and Ms Markle even rubbed someone's wrist - as if to warm them up on the cold day - as she shook their hand.

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.

Ms Markle met some of the children benefiting from the programme's Friday Night Youth Club, which began in September.

The couple also chatted with Full Effect mentor Chantelle Stefanovic, who recently spoke about the issues facing children and young people in the St Ann's area of Nottingham at the inaugural summit of the Obama Foundation in Chicago.

Harry, paying his third visit to the school, and Ms Markle also witnessed a kickboxing session involving eight youngsters being overseen by Full Effect mentor Cain Thomas.