Newly engaged Prince Harry and Meghan Markle arrived in Nottingham on Friday, December 1, for their first official joint visit. The Prince and the actress were met by huge crowds, including royal watchers and press, who came to the city to catch a glimpse of the happy couple. The 33-year-old royal and Meghan, 36, who announced their engagement earlier this week, smiled and waved to cheering members of the public as they exited their car, taking the time to shake hands and speak to a few lucky locals, before heading to the National Justice Museum.
VIEW GALLERY Meghan and Harry made their first joint visit in Nottingham Photo: Getty Images
Meghan looked beautiful for her first public engagement with Harry, dressed in a navy blue winter coat by Mackage and black heeled boots with her striking trilogy diamond engagement ring on display. The couple spent around 25 minutes meeting the crowds in Nottingham, with Meghan charming members of the public as she introduced herself with a cheery "Hi, I'm Meghan." At one point she was also heard saying, "I'm so happy. It's just such a thrill to be here."
Some people had been waiting since 6 a.m. to meet the couple, braving the cold with gifts including flowers, Haribo — Harry's favorite sweet — and homemade cards. Meghan appeared to make a beeline for children, dogs, and seemed thrilled to meet the many American students who had turned up to see her. Accepting congratulations from hundreds of wellwishers, she showed her engagement ring to interested admirers and smiled at the many compliments about Prince Harry.
VIEW GALLERY Meghan charmed the crowds during her first royal appearance with Prince Harry Photo: Getty Images
After spending time in the museum, the couple then made the short journey to the Nottingham Contemporary to attend the Terrence Higgins Trust charity fair, in honor of World Aids Day — a cause very close to Princess Diana's heart. Dominic Edwards, from the Terrence Higgins Trust, told the BBC the charity was "thrilled" they had chosen to visit Nottingham, and said: "I think it really underlines his great support for HIV as a cause." The couple also visited the Nottingham Academy during their time in the city, where they met with staff and students from the 3,600-pupil school.
Prince Harry has become a regular visitor to Nottingham over the last four years, meeting up with youth workers and young people helped by the Full Effect project. The community group, which is backed by the Prince's Royal Foundation, works in the St. Ann's area of the city to stop youth violence and crime through a variety of projects, from rapping workshops to film production and sports programs.
VIEW GALLERY The actress stunned as she matched her fiancé in a sleek navy coat Photo: Getty Images
His communication's secretary, Jason Knauf, said the Prince was looking forward to introducing Meghan to a community that had "become very special to him", adding that the Suits star "could not wait" to meet people she had heard so much about. The couple's visit is expected to benefit the local economy by hundreds of thousands of pounds with huge crowds attracted to the city center hoping for a glimpse of Harry and Meghan. Tourism bosses say Harry and Meghan's visit will showcase Nottingham on a global scale with the event being covered by television and media from around the world.
On Tuesday, it was confirmed that Meghan — an actress who until her engagement had been a UN women's advocate and worked for World Vision — was to start royal life with a "clean slate." Mr. Knauf said she planned to focus her attention on the UK and Commonwealth. "This is the country that's going to be her home now and that means traveling around, getting to know the towns and cities and smaller communities," he said. She will also become the fourth patron of the Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry.