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
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