Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have stepped out for their first official public engagement as a couple, travelling to Nottingham about 125 miles north of London. The visit comes just days after news of their engagement made headlines the world over.
Meghan looked every bit the royal for her first walkabout opting for an ankle-length navy coat by Mackage. She accented the look with over-the-knee boots and -- of course -- her stunning three-stone diamond engagement ring.
The successful actress spent around 25 minutes meeting with waiting crowds alongside her husband-to-be, charming members of the public as she introduced herself with a chipper "Hi, I'm Meghan."
"I'm so happy," she said at one point. "It's just such a thrill to be here."
The duchess-to-be also showed off her engagement ring to interested admirers -- set on a gold band, the ring features a diamond from Botswana (a treasured destination for the couple) and two side stones which were taken from Harry's mother, Diana's, personal collection.
A crowd of hundreds gathered to catch a glimpse of the newly-engaged couple, with many beginning to line security barriers well before six in the morning. They braved rather chilly conditions to share their well wishes and handover gifts of congratulations including bunches of flowers, Haribo - Harry's favourite lollies - and homemade cards.
Harry, 33, and Meghan, 36, could barely keep their hands off each other at the event. They were snapped holding hands, cuddling and wrapping their arms affectionately one another. And while there’s no hard and fast rule that says royals must refrain from public displays of affection, it’s a departure from what we’ve come to expect -- after all, Prince William and Duchess Catherine have been pictured holding hands less than a dozen times in their royal careers.
“While Prince Harry and Megan holding hands is atypical for royal engagements, it is a seemingly welcomed gesture to show unity and celebration of their engagement period,” royal etiquette expert Myka Meier, founder and director of Beaumont Etiquette, explained to People. “There is no protocol that says they can not show affection on official engagements, and this gesture makes them relatable and lovable to the public.”
“Megan and Prince Harry holding hands at a royal engagement is a refreshingly modern approach to their new role both as a couple and as representatives of the royal family,” she continued.
We do love it when the royals let their guard down!
Harry and Meghan’s first stop was the Nottingham Contemporary, an art centre hosting a celebration for World AIDS Day.
During the event, the couple spoke with Chris O’Hanlon -- a peer mentor for Positively UK, a charity that helps people newly diagnosed with HIV.
“They are very personable. It is very easy to talk to them because they are so open,” he told People about the encounter. They have a very jokey attitude. They seem amazingly comfortable together. You can see that it’s a perfect match.”
Chris, who spoke with the pair about his own diagnosis and the importance of fitness in dealing with HIV, dubbed the duchess-to-be a natural.
“This may have been her first official engagement, but she was a complete natural at it,” he told the publication. “She was incredibly observant about what we were talking about, and very interested. She picked up on quite a few things that I was saying, particularly in terms of my own diagnosis. She was very empathetic.”
He added: “Not only will she make a good addition to the royal family, she will make an excellent ambassador to any of the causes she puts her heart and her mind to.”
We can’t wait to see more from the beautiful couple!