Harry’s girl now a royal-in-wait­ing

Hol­ly­wood star Meghan Markle and Prince Harry have made their first of­fi­cial pub­lic ap­pear­ance to­gether, in what is be­ing seen as an im­por­tant step to­wards her be­com­ing a mem­ber of the royal fam­ily, writes Rhian Deutrom

The Courier-Mail - - NEWS - rhian.deutrom@news.com.au

PRINCE Harry and Hol­ly­wood ac­tor Meghan Markle made their first of­fi­cial pub­lic ap­pear­ance to­gether at the In­vic­tus Games in Toronto this week, prompt­ing spec­u­la­tion a royal en­gage­ment is draw­ing near.

In what ap­peared to be a care­fully or­ches­trated ap­pear­ance, Markle ar­rived at the open­ing cer­e­mony of the sports event Prince Harry founded for in­jured de­fence per­son­nel, but she kept a dis­creet dis­tance, sit­ting sev­eral rows away from her boyfriend.

In a ma­roon, pleated dress and match­ing leather bomber jacket by Cana­dian de­signer Mack­age, the star looked ef­fort­lessly chic as she joined the cheers for Harry in the Toronto Air Canada Cen­tre after his open­ing speech.

Later, to the de­light of royal watch­ers, the Amer­i­can ac­tor and hu­man­i­tar­ian at­tended sev­eral sport­ing events handin-hand with her prince charm­ing, in­clud­ing a cosy en­counter on the side­lines of a wheel­chair ten­nis match be­tween Aus­tralia and New Zealand on Mon­day.

The cou­ple, who have been dat­ing for more than a year, were seen hold­ing hands and gig­gling to­gether, sur­rounded at all times by a royal se­cu­rity de­tail.

Markle ap­peared com­pletely at ease in the royal spot­light, a role she may have to get used to if she plans to marry 33-year-old Harry. T he Bri­tish press seem to have given the cou­ple the thumbs up, with re­ports say­ing Markle, who is cur­rently based in Toronto for her work on the tele­vi­sion le­gal drama Suits, was a wel­come ad­di­tion to the 4th an­nual In­vic­tus Games, and that she pulled off her pub­lic de­but in style. The pair’s ob­vi­ous and nat­u­ral af­fec­tion for one an­other is feed­ing spec­u­la­tion an en­gage­ment is just around the cor­ner. Markle would be the first Amer­i­can di­vorcee to marry into the Bri­tish royal fam­ily since twice-di­vorced Wal­lis Simp­son’s mar­riage to then-King Ed­ward VIII 80 years ago.

But, un­like her pre­de­ces­sor, whose hus­band gave up the throne to marry the woman he pub­licly pro­fessed to love when an­nounc­ing his ab­di­ca­tion, Markle won’t cause a con­sti­tu­tional cri­sis.

And nor will she, it seems, fall prey to the re­lent­less me­dia storm sur­round­ing her – un­like some of Harry’s for­mer girl­friends.

While Markle has un­doubt­edly also felt the pres­sure of dat­ing the most pop­u­lar Bri­tish royal, she seems to have taken the un­wanted at­ten­tion more in her stride than pre­vi­ous girl­friends, per­haps be­cause, as an ac­tor, she is more ac­cus­tomed to life in the spot­light. M arkle was born and raised in Los Angeles and be­gan dat­ing Harry in July last year after be­ing in­tro­duced by friends.

As their re­la­tion­ship de­vel­oped, Markle, who started her screen ca­reer as a “briefcase girl” on the game show Deal or

No Deal, was also learn­ing to cope with her ris­ing pop­u­lar­ity as an ac­tor, and for her hu­man­i­tar­ian work.

Over the past 12 months, the young cou­ple has been hounded by pa­parazzi ea­ger to sat­isfy the pub­lic’s ap­petite for royal gos­sip.

De­spite the at­ten­tion, which of­ten left the pair un­der siege, Harry whisked Markle to Botswana for her 36th birthday in Au­gust, and the pair cel­e­brate his 33rd birthday to­gether in Lon­don this month.

Cur­rent leg­is­la­tion dic­tates that the first six peo­ple in the royal line of suc­ces­sion must seek the per­mis­sion of the monarch to marry.

As sixth in line to the throne – be­hind the un­born third child of brother Wil­liam and his wife, Kate – Harry will still need to seek the per­mis­sion of his gran, the Queen, to marry. Markle split

from her for­mer hus­band, film pro­ducer Trevor En­gel­son, in 2013 after just two years of mar­riage.

The Queen has shown le­niency in the past, per­mit­ting the 2005 wed­ding of her own son, Prince Charles, to Camilla Parker Bowles fol­low­ing her di­vorce from her first hus­band, An­drew Parker Bowles, in 1995. I n an in­ter­view with Van­ity

Fair this month, Markle dis­cusses her re­la­tion­ship briefly, say­ing that be­ing in the pub­lic eye “has its chal­lenges, and it comes in waves”.

“Some days it can feel more chal­leng­ing than oth­ers,” she says. “We’re two peo­ple who are re­ally happy and in love.

“We were very qui­etly dat­ing for about six months be­fore it be­came news. I was work­ing dur­ing that whole time and the only thing that changed was peo­ple’s per­cep­tion.”

Prince Harry’s some­times controversial per­sonal life has long been a source of pub­lic in­ter­est.

In Novem­ber last year, the grow­ing cu­rios­ity sur­round­ing Markle be­came so in­tense, it prompted the prince to re­lease a state­ment say­ing Markle had been “sub­ject to a wave of abuse and harassment”, that he was “wor­ried about” her safety, and that it was “not right” that she should be sub­jected to such a me­dia storm.

“Some of this has been very pub­lic – the smear on the front page of a na­tional news­pa­per, the racial un­der­tones of com­ment pieces, and the out­right sexism and racism of so­cial me­dia trolls and web ar­ti­cle com­ments,” the prince’s state­ment said.

It went on to say there had been “nightly le­gal bat­tles” with me­dia out­lets to keep in­ac­cu­rate and defam­a­tory sto­ries out of the pa­pers, and that Markle’s fam­ily and friends had been ha­rassed.

It wasn’t un­til sev­eral months after the state­ment was is­sued that the pair qui­etly ap­peared to­gether at Pippa Mid­dle­ton’s lav­ish wed­ding re­cep­tion in coun­try Eng­land in May.

TO­GETHER: Prince Harry meets In­vic­tus Games ath­letes (top left); Harry and Meghan Markle at­tend a wheel­chair ten­nis match dur­ing the Games (top cen­tre); Meghan in Africa with char­ity World Vi­sion (top right); Harry and Meghan in the crowd at the In­vic­tus Games (main). Pic­tures: AFP/Getty

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