Earlier today Prince Harry and his new fiancée, Meghan Markle, undertook their first engagements together at an away day in Nottingham. This marked Meghan’s first formal introduction to the British public since the couple’s engagement was announced on Monday, and it’s expected that the two will carry out more between now and their planned wedding at Windsor this coming May.
The first thing I thought when seeing the photos and going through the coverage was a comment made by Harry in some interview a while ago in which he said how much he wished there was someone for him to take with him on engagements and share those experiences. Well, he’s found that someone and the two of them looked incredibly happy today – with each other and with the overwhelming joy they were shown by the members of the public who lined up in the streets of Nottingham to wish them well.
Today’s engagements were focused on HIV/Aids awareness and the prevention of youth crime, two issue areas close to Harry’s heart. But, unsurprisingly, the real focus of today was the walkabout – Meghan’s first – as she walked the lines, shaking hands and chatting with people. Starting off with Harry, she soon segued to greet people on her ownIt was jarring to hear an American accent during a royal event, but in a good way – I think her informality and directness will be assets throughout her career. For one, she went up to people and introduced herself by way of saying, “Hi, I’m Meghan,” which is rather adorable. I’m trying to recall if the Duchess of Cambridge took that route during her engagement, but honestly can’t remember and Google isn’t helping.
One thing I do remember from those days, however, was that everyone was pleasantly surprised by how calmly Kate took to her new role. She appeared unruffled and confident during walkabouts, gamely shaking hands and making small talk. I have a very distinct memory of her flipping a small pancake for some food demonstration going on, which when you consider how many cameras she knew were trained on her is all the more impressive. (I definitely would have dropped it.)
Harry and Meghan turned up to wild cheers and royal reporter Rebecca English captured video of them in the first moments, noting that Meghan is even more beautiful in person:
And this one, in which Harry is called out for landing Meghan as a “ginger,” again courtesy of English:
You get a good sense from both of the atmosphere and how daunting that could feel – people shouting your name, phones stuck in your face and all the noise. A happy atmosphere, certainly, but it’s still a lot when you take a step back and consider the reality of these events for the uninitiated.
On that note, one onlooker asked Meghan to take a photo with her on her phone and Meghan responded, “I’m sorry. We’re not allowed to do selfies.” That’s interesting, because I have definitely seen video footage of Kate posing for selfies in the past – I think during her engagement or her newlywed days, so it’s definitely been a minute, but it’s happened. And I want to say Harry at least has also done so, but I can’t think of a specific example. In subsequent years Kate has turned down such requests, which I always assumed was a matter of preference not a guideline from above. But there you go: the Royal family is not allowed to pose for selfies. Fair enough.
Harry and Meghan met with the Terrence Higgins Trust, a charitable organization working on behalf of those affected by HIV/Aids. This, of course, was an issue once championed by Harry’s mother, the late Princess of Wales, and one which he has taken up the baton and run with. This particular engagement was focused on destigmatizing the disease and encouraging the public to get tested.
From there, the couple moved to Nottingham Academy to meet with the staff of Full Effect, a group focused on the prevention of youth crime via early intervention, mentoring and education.
And that was it, Harry and Meghan returned to their adoring public waiting outside to say goodbye and the two headed back to London.
Now for a few other asides: Meghan was wearing a black Wolford turtleneck with a tan Joseph skirt and tall black suede boots by Kurt Geiger. When outside, the outfit was topped by a long navy blue coat by Mackage and she carried a purple and blue handbag by Lane Crawford.
Today the fashion was very much overshadowed by the excitement of Meghan’s first engagement and happiness over this week’s announcement, but I’ll weigh in briefly anyway. I…didn’t love this. I think there were some newbie mistakes, but they may be personal preferences – time will tell. I like the coat, but it didn’t match the outfit worn underneath it and it would have all gelled a bit more had it been black or another neutral color.
As for the ensemble itself, I’m personally not a fan of the tall boots and long skirts combo, so this was a miss for me basically by default. That said, once Meghan removed her jacket, I do think she looked put together and professional, which is what’s most important.
Now for the handbag – as a bag to personally own, sure. But it looked cumbersome today and there’s a reason why Kate chooses to carry clutches when she’s out and about. Having something to hold is useful in these circumstances, but lugging around a full-sized bag just looked strange.
All of this made me think of Kate and her fashion choices over the years, which we sort of take for granted at this point. A lot of time, when I’m gauging Kate’s clothes, I try to consider it in a non-royal context because there is a costume element to what she wears in public. There are definitely times when she’s wearing her coat dresses or incredibly matchy outfits that she can look a bit fussy or old-fashioned, but she always looks intentional and, well, royal. This is a quality that has developed over time, however, and I think Meghan’s sartorial choices as she grows into her new role will evolve.
As for other news, there’s been a lot of speculation over what date Kensington Palace will set for the wedding, with the 18th, 25th and 26th being thrown out as contenders. The fact of the matter is, we simply won’t know until the Palace announces it so I’m not going to wade too far into the issue. Like the engagement itself, we’ll know when we know.
While all of this was going on, Kate was spotted at King’s Cross station. My guess is she figured she might be able to get through without being getting noticed thanks to all eyes being on Nottingham. The consensus seems to be that she was headed for Norfolk for a long weekend at Anmer Hall. William, apparently, went straight there yesterday evening after arriving back from Helsinki, and given that Kate wasn’t with their children, they’re probably already in Norfolk with their nanny and father. With William and Kate not expected to be in public again until this coming Wednesday, they’re probably looking for a few days out in the country after all the recent flurry of activity. You can see all the photos here – the coat, which we saw a glimpse of earlier this week, is Zara.
With that, I think we can all take a deep breath. There’s nothing on the books before Wednesday, which for us here means a few days of history. I’m looking forward to a little palate cleanser in the middle of royal wedding fever!