He knew she was The One the moment he saw her: ROBERT HARDMAN witnesses an (understandably) nervous moment for the happy couple at Kensington Palace
He knew she was 'The One' from the moment he clapped eyes on her. So said a supremely happy, faintly bashful and very cold Prince Harry as he formally introduced Britain's next Princess to the world yesterday afternoon.?
The feeling was entirely mutual, judging by a blinding smile which will certainly make British dentistry raise its game once Meghan Markle has traded in her US passport for a UK royal title.
Even for these two famously confident young people, both naturals in front of a crowd, their first official appearance together in front of the cameras was (understandably) a nervous moment.
Each seemed endearingly protective of the other as they greeted the press in the Sunken Garden of Kensington Palace. There were plenty of 'you can do it' hand squeezes and reassuring looks.
Even for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, both naturals in front of a crowd, their first official appearance together in front of the cameras was a nervous moment, writes Robert Hardman
Harry, 33, Queen Elizabeth's grandson and fifth-in-line to the British throne, and Markle, 36, best known for her role in the U.S. TV legal drama 'Suits', got engaged this month in London, announcing the news on Monday
When a reporter asked for details of the proposal, it was Miss Markle who got there first. 'Save that,' she said. 'That will come later,' added the Prince.
These two are a team already. Last night's fluent, candid, surprisingly relaxed and, at times, downright jokey television interview was proof of that.
Their relationship might have been public knowledge for over a year. Their engagement might have been widely anticipated for months. Yet even though they knew and we knew where this was heading, there was still a palpable sense of surprise across the globe yesterday morning as a proud Prince of Wales released an official announcement at 10am. News bulletins from Brisbane to Berlin were instantly rearranged. Such is the eternal appeal and the enduring power of the royal fairytale, even in the 21st century.
So why the wait? Quite simply, Prince Harry and Miss Markle were determined not to distract attention from last week's great royal milestone. The Prince dotes on his grandparents and the 70th wedding anniversary of the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh – the first platinum wedding anniversary in royal history – was an event which could be neither moved nor eclipsed. It was very much the decision of the Prince and his fiancee, according to one royal official, to wait a week before announcing their news.
They had also required the Queen's permission. Though the 2015 reform of the Royal Marriages Act has lifted the rules governing most royal unions, the law still demands that the Sovereign approves the weddings of the first six in line to the Throne. And Prince Harry remains in fifth place (he will drop to sixth when the Duchess of Cambridge gives birth to her third child in the Spring).
Harry and Markle, who is a divorcee, met in July 2016 after they were introduced through a friend who set them up on a blind date. But it was not until September that they made their first public appearance together at the Invictus Games in Toronto, a sports event for wounded veterans
The prince, the younger son of heir-to-the-throne Prince Charles and his first wife Diana, publicly confirmed their relationship months later in a rebuke to the media over its alleged intrusion into Markle's private life
The Queen and the Duke issued a statement saying they were both 'delighted'.
There were several reminders of Diana, Princess of Wales yesterday. The photocalls for all previous royal engagements had been at Buckingham Palace or St James's Palace. Prince Harry and his bride-to-be had chosen the gardens of Kensington for their event.
These had been something of a sanctuary for Diana in her final years.
Just this summer, Prince Harry had come here with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to see the very same Sunken Garden transformed in to 'the White Garden' in her memory.
He had also chosen to wear a black tie with his immaculately cut blue suit and white shirt, a most unusual combination. You did not need a royal or fashion expert to explain the message in that.
Though Palace officials were able to provide full details of Miss Markle's ensemble – Italian dress by PAROSH plus a coat from the Commonwealth courtesy of Canada's Line The Label. Last night it was reported that Line The Label's website had crashed, such was the surge in interest in the brand.
Prince Harry and Miss Markle, pictured after their engagement announcement at Kensington Palace on Monday, are due to be married in the spring
More than 100 members of the media had been admitted to see the Prince introduce his girl from across the pond – now, literally, across the pond. For the Palace had parked the press on one side of the rectangular pool while the couple stood on the other.
A handful of passers-by and dog-walkers in Kensington Gardens, having found a gap in a leafless hedge, could not believe their luck. They shrieked and clapped as the couple appeared and were rewarded with what can now officially be recorded as the future Princess's first royal wave.
Above the chunter of news helicopters and the rattle of camera lenses, reporters lobbed congratulations and questions over the water. How were they feeling? 'Thrilled,' they both replied. When did he realise that he had met 'The One'? 'The very first time we met!' he said with a big smile and a reassuring look at his bride-to-be.
It was over in little more than a minute. The couple walked off arm in arm, virtually glowing with relief that this ordeal was out of the way.
Whereupon the public then poured in to take photos of where it had all happened. 'It's so lovely to hear some good news for a change – and I got engaged this summer, too,' said Mandy Bullock, 24, a nursery assistant from Sleaford, Lincolnshire, on a trip to London with fiance Richard Dutton.
Above us, on her pedestal overlooking the gardens, stood Prince Harry's great, great, great, great grandmother, looking as regal and unamused as ever.
It was at Kensington Palace that Queen Victoria first met her foreign-born future spouse. It would turn into one of the greatest royal love stories of all time.
FEMAIL FASHION VERDICT
We've?become so accustomed to the slightly awkward, eyes downcast, royal engagement photocall that yesterday’s appearance of Harry and Meghan came as something of a shock.
But what a pleasant shock it was.
Meghan radiated so much confidence, good health and natural style, it was like a ray of Californian sunshine had lit up Kensington Gardens.
Her skin positively sparkled, her nails were trimmed short and her teeth were that particular shade of Hollywood white which only comes with a lot of expensive dentistry.
Even her make-up was pitch-perfect, a study in that West Coast American ‘no make-up, make-up look’. Meghan’s hair, as always, was blow dried in a very modern, smooth style (no crispy corkscrew curls for this fashionable girl).
But what of the outfit? A bottle-green dress by little-known Italian label PAROSH and an wrap-coat by Canadian brand Line The Label suggests she may not feel obliged to support British fashion just yet.
While the exact price of the coat isn’t known, a similar style is retailing for ￡450. The outfit was not unlike something her future sister-in-law the Duchess of Cambridge would wear.
It could be the first indication that the LA girl, who was once wedded to her ripped jeans, may feel under pressure to present a more grown-up image.
But what Meghan chose to wear for the photocall was less interesting than how she wore it – with barn-storming confidence. Did you see how she managed the five-inch stiletto heels on those ￡552 Aquazzura nude suede shoes? She spun around on them as if they were merely trainers. Meghan also chose to support Canadian fine jewellery brand Birks for the photocall, wearing a pair of ￡850 18 carat yellow gold and opal earrings.
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