Friday, 15 December 2017

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle to Marry on 19 May

In fabulous Friday news, Kensington Palace confirmed Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will marry on Saturday, 19 May, at St George's Chapel at Windsor.

Kensington Palace Twitter Feed
The Telegraph reports:

'Harry and Ms Markle have gone against tradition by choosing a Saturday.
Royal weddings usually take place on a weekday. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge wed on a Friday and the Queen on a Thursday.
But Harry and his fiancee's choice avoids the issue of whether or not the royal wedding should be a Bank Holiday.
The May wedding will also have been picked to give Kate time to recover after the birth of her third child, which is due in April.

They also reported on significant events from 'May 19' over the year:

1536: Anne Boleyn, second wife of Henry VIII and mother of Queen Elizabeth I, was executed on Tower Green for alleged adultery.
1588: The Spanish Armada set sail from Lisbon.
1802: The French Legion d'Honneur was created by Napoleon.
1898: William Ewart Gladstone, four times Liberal prime minister, died at Hawarden Castle in North Wales aged 88.
1900: Britain annexed Tonga, the Friendly Islands.
1906: The 20km Simplon rail tunnel, between Switzerland and Italy, was officially opened.
1935: T. E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) died six days after a motorcycle accident in Dorset.
1982: Italian actress Sophia Loren was jailed for a month for tax evasion.
1984: Sir John Betjeman, Poet Laureate from 1972, died aged 77.

The Mail Online reports Harry and Meghan will be married by the Archbishop of Canterbury: "The Archbishop of Canterbury is expected to marry Prince Harry and divorcee Meghan Markle. In an interview on Radio 4’s Today programme yesterday, Justin Welby declined to say whether he would officiate at the service, saying only that it was ‘up to them’. But it is believed that he has, in fact, already agreed to marry the couple in St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle in May. Sources say the leader of the Church of England has even had initial discussions with the Queen’s grandson and his bride-to-be about the ceremony and apparently found them ‘delightful’ and ‘totally committed’ to each other." It is also reported he will join the couple for a series of pre-marital counselling sessions before the big day.


The Archbishop recently spoke of Harry and Meghan's 'profound sense of commitment to each other'. More from People's article:

'Most Revd and Rt Hon Justin Welby, who was named the Archbishop of Canterbury in 2013, has met Harry several times and says that the couple is not going through with a grand religious service out of a sense of tradition .
“I am very, very sure after conversations that this is no tick-box exercise of ‘We ought to get married in church,’ ” he told BBC Radio Four’s Today program. “There is a profound sense of commitment, of seriousness both about faith and about their lives together which is quite inspirational.”
“Of course it’s important because people will look at it and they’ll see a model of how two people commit their lives to one another before God, in the presence of millions of people,” Welby said. “That’s going to be wonderful, it’s always a beautiful moment. Every wedding is profoundly beautiful.”

Kensington Palace Communications Secretary Jason Knauf said the day will reflect their "characters and personalities" and added they want their wedding to be "fun and joyful" and involve the public. It is understood the wedding will be televised and broadcast all over the world. Harry and Meghan are completely in charge of planning the event and will be very busy in the coming months with preparations for what promises to be one very memorable Royal wedding. It is such an exciting time; I'm delighted for both of them.


I hope you're clearing 19 May on your calendars! :)

If you're just joining us, Meghan attended two Royal household parties this week. Read all about them here.

Meghan Gets into the Festive Spirit with Two Royal Christmas Parties This Week!

Meghan Markle has certainly been getting into the Christmas spirit with not one but two royal Christmas parties this week. Newly engaged Meghan reportedly traveled to LA for a flying visit last week to see her mother Doria Ragland and then returned to London to spend time with the Royal family. On Monday night, much to the surprise of those in attendance, Prince Harry arrived at the Royal Household Christmas Party hosted by the Lord Chamberlain at Windsor Castle with his fiancée. This is another significant milestone for Meghan as the annual event was attended by the Queen who was escorted by Prince Andrew. The Duke of Gloucester and Duke of Kent were also present.


Richard Kay exclusively broke the story which has since been confirmed by People and Hello!. Mr Kay writes:

'Step by elegant step, Meghan Markle is transforming the Royal Family. It is the manner in which Meghan is being fast-tracked into royal life long before her wedding that is so startling. For I can reveal that earlier this week the American actress had another unusual starring role — accompanying Harry and the Queen to the Royal Household Christmas party hosted by the Lord Chamberlain at Windsor Castle.
In a more intimate re-run of her first engagement, at Harry’s side in Nottingham earlier this month, Meghan plunged into a sea of welcoming faces gathered in the castle’s great reception rooms. This time they were footmen, housemaids, butlers and pages, the domestic staff and gardeners who keep Buckingham Palace and the other royal residences ticking over. While the Queen, escorted by Prince Andrew and her cousins the Dukes of Gloucester and Kent, was greeted with affection, all eyes inevitably were on the smiling figure of Meghan.
At the party, the formality was kept to a minimum with handshakes rather than curtsies. ‘She asked everyone she met their names and what they did,’ one guest told me. ‘It was very natural.'

The party was held in a set of rooms, including the Waterloo Chamber, St George’s Hall and the Grand Reception Room where Harry and Meghan's wedding reception will take place next May. Certainly, wedding planning was at the forefront of Meghan's mind, and she revealed she and Harry spent part of last weekend at Windsor looking over the State Rooms as they make preparations for the big day.


We may not have photos of Harry and Meghan but we do have images of Windsor Castle decorated for the festivities; they were released earlier this month. Take a look at the majestic tree in St George's hall.


Country Living reports: "One tradition which continues to take centre stage is the Christmas tree, which was "born" at Windsor. We know there were trees used before Victoria and Albert by Queen Charlotte, but it was Prince Albert in the 1840s who introduced the idea of the Christmas tree as we know today and they popularised it by giving trees to local schools and barracks. Each year, an 'absolutely enormous' Nordmann Fir goes on display in St George's Hall. It's grown on the nearby Windsor Estate and this year, it has been decorated entirely in gold. Embellishments include miniature crowns, pine cone ornaments and twinkling fairy lights, finished with an angel sitting on the top of the tree."


Decorations at Windsor.


Take a peek inside at the tree going up. It took thirteen hours. Such a beautiful backdrop for a Christmas party.


Richard Kay continued:

'Her presence was a surprise to staff, who laughed when the Lord Chamberlain, Earl Peel, said in his address with masterful understatement that next year would be a busy one. He didn’t have to mention the royal wedding. But it is the breath-taking speed with which the star of the TV show Suits is being absorbed into the royal world, while still not a royal, that has amazed even the most up-to-date courtiers.' 

Guests enjoyed Mumm champagne or Sandringham apple juice. Apparently Meghan didn't drink.


Hello! reports: "Harry and Meghan spent about an hour at the party and they were really friendly and went around talking to everyone. Meghan was very sweet and so beautiful." Mail Online's Rebecca English said: "One person who met her told me that she was 'charm personified'. "She held out her hand & said 'Hi, I'm Meghan'. She was unbelievably beautiful and Harry looked so proud."


Meghan wore an elegant burgundy lace dress for the evening. A great colour for a seasonal party. Naturally since we don't have photos, I did a quick search for 'burgundy lace dresses' (as you do of an evening). The Lela Rose dress below came up initially and would have been a great choice. Meghan is a fan of the designer and is seen wearing one of her gowns in the photo above. The corded lace Jonathan Simkhai dress looks 'very Meghan'.


On Wednesday evening, Meghan joined Harry and William and Kate for the annual Kensington Palace staff party. According to the Mail Online, the couple were there for a short time before leaving early. I think it's very important for Meghan to get to know the KP staff and those behind the scenes who play important roles in the day to day running of the place. She will be an important part of the royal quarter at the Palace. At the staff party next year, Meghan will be an established member of the Royal family with her own private secretary in attendance. William and Kate were photographed departing, but no photos of Harry and Meghan have emerged.


The party was held at Rococo-style bar and vaulted Modern European cellar restaurant Beach Blanket Babylon in Notting Hill. The party of sixty enjoyed champagne, caviar, traditional Christmas favourites such as corn fed duck and Christmas pudding.


It's wonderful to see Meghan attending family events and getting to know those in the Royal households. It very much sounds like Her Majesty has warmly welcomed Meghan into the family and by all accounts she was a hit with everyone she met.

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Kensington Palace Confirms Meghan Will Spend Christmas With The Royal Family!

I'm just quickly popping in with an update we've all been waiting for. As expected, Kensington Palace has confirmed Meghan Markle will spend Christmas with the Royal Family at Sandringham. A Palace spokesperson said:

"You can expect to see the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Harry and Ms Markle at Sandringham on Christmas Day."

In the past, the Palace has been notoriously reluctant to discuss Christmas plans. In a highly unusual move they revealed details for this year. I suspect given the level of media interest and number of reports on Meghan's Christmas plans, it warranted an official response. It's also the first time a royal fiancée has joined the family officially for the festivities. Indeed, in a Christmas treat for royalists, we will see the newly engaged couple make the walk to St Mary Magdalene Church on Christmas morning (I expect holding hands). Several photo agencies will be there, so we can expect an abundance of photographs.


Victoria Murphy penned an interesting piece on what Meghan's attendance means for the Royal family:

'This love match between Prince Harry and the US actress has served to continually demonstrate that the royals are not quite the sticklers for tradition or convention that many imagined.
Their upcoming marriage is making the Royal Family more multicultural, has served to demonstrate that divorce is no longer an issue for them, and has shown that royal brides need not have an aristocratic or even affluent background to be deemed 'suitable'.
And now we see that supposed 'rules' about people being married into the firm before they are welcome at Sandringham at Christmas are also either being bent or were simply never as rigid as people assumed in the first place.
This is a modern marriage in every sense - and it has served to show us that our royals really do embody modern values.'

People reports:

'It is unusual for non-married partners of senior members of the family to join the Queen for Christmas Day’s celebrations. Despite being engaged to William, in 2010 Kate spent her last Christmas as a single woman with her own family. But, unlike Kate, Meghan doesn’t have any family in the U.K. — and clearly Harry will have wanted his new fiancé by his side.
What Harry asks, the Queen is likely to grant, too. A family friend has told PEOPLE, “If Harry asks for something, the Queen would say yes as she adores him.” 

Before that, We can expect to see car arrival photos of Harry and Meghan for the Queen's pre-Christmas luncheon. I believe it takes place either next Tuesday or Wednesday. You can read our full post on Meghan's first Christmas with the Royals here.

Are you looking forward to seeing Harry and Meghan make the first of many appearances at Sandringham on Christmas Day?

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Sunday Wrap Up: Meghan in LA, When We'll see Harry and Meghan Next? & All the Latest News!

Since the engagement announcement, we have been inundated with a flurry of stories about Prince Harry and Meghan. On this chilly Sunday evening, we're wrapping up the most interesting pieces from recent updates along with updates on the couple and when we'll see them next.

Meghan is reportedly in LA... Since Harry and Meghan's day in Nottingham, there haven't been any reported sightings of the couple or of Meghan in London. Several outlets including E! News reported Meghan flew to LA early last week to spend time with her mother Doria Ragland. Doria has been papped out and about in recent days and there's no sign of Meghan with her. I imagine Meghan may be visiting friends too. Shortly after the engagement announcement, Kensington Palace confirmed Meghan would be doing quite a bit of travelling before the royal wedding. When she returns to London, the couple are expected to spend Christmas at Sandringham with the Royal family. Afterwards, it's been reported they will ring in the New Year with Doria before jetting off for a sun holiday. Harry and Meghan will be undertaking a tour of the UK encompassing a variety of engagements before the wedding. We don't know when this will get properly underway; perhaps February? Kensington Palace press secretary Jason Knauf said: "This is the country that’s going to be her home now and that means travelling around, getting to know the towns and cities and smaller communities."

Embed from Getty Images

Prince Harry is also out of London at present; he flew to Germany for a private hunting weekend.

Harry and Meghan Will Attend the Queen's Pre-Christmas Luncheon... The Sunday Express and The Sun report Meghan is expected to join the Royal family for the annual festive event held at Buckingham Palace. It's believed the luncheon will take place on either the "19 or 20 December". Camilla Tominey writes the Queen throws the traditional festive knees-up at Buckingham Palace every year to ensure she sees relatives who are not invited to Sandringham on 25 December. This year’s event, thought to be on 20 December, will be attended by at least fifty royals including the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge with Prince George and Princess Charlotte, as well as relatives lower down the pecking order such as Prince and Princess Michael of Kent. "Plus it provides the perfect opportunity for her to meet some of the Prince’s extended family, especially as she was not at the Queen and Prince Philip’s 70th anniversary dinner last month.The lunch will see Meghan renew her acquaintance with the Queen’s corgis." We will see arrival/departure photos of the royals arriving on the day. Below, Harry arriving with the Cambridges last year.

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Meghan's Toronto home for sale... Meghan's former Toronto home on leafy Yarmouth Road in the Seaton Village neighbourhood is now for sale for £800,000. The three-bedroom property was 'home' for Meghan while she filmed seven seasons of Suits, and the location where Harry and Meghan spent much of their time during their first year together.


Shall we take a peek inside?


The listing reads: "Live Well In This Stylish Designer Inspired Home. Turnkey From Top-To-Bottom. A Perfect Home For Entertaining. Spacious, Light Filled Living/Dining Space. Luxe Eat-In Kitchen With Walk-Out To Professionally Landscaped Private Garden Retreat. Three Well Proportioned Bedrooms. Decorator Baths. Fully Finished Basement Area Perfectly Suited For Family Time. Awesome Two Car Garage."


One can easily see foodie Meghan cooking in the kitchen.


I love the minimalist decor with shades of grey and white.


You can view the listing and more photos here.


Andrew Morton to pen book on Meghan... Diana's biographer Andrew Morton is to author a "comprehensive" book on the future Duchess. Meghan: A Hollywood Princess, set to be published in April one month before the royal wedding, will be published by Michael O Mara Books. According to i News, Morton said: "I was a fan of Meghan’s long before she met Prince Harry. She has star quality, what some have called ‘the Markle Sparkle’. Confident, groomed and camera ready, she is a dramatic contrast to the blushing, coy royal brides of recent history." Morton said the book would be "a comprehensive, unparalleled look at her life prior to the royal engagement", adding that Markle’s life is "a fascinating story and I can’t wait to tell it".


Royal Jewellers will not be recreating Meghan's engagement ring... Designed by Prince Harry and featuring a central diamond from Botswana and diamonds from Princess Diana's private collection, Meghan's engagement ring is one of the most famous on the planet. For jewellers Cleave and Company the attention and demand since has been "a bit of a shock". Stephen Connelly, the director of Cleave and Company told the Associated Press: "We’re not going to be making replicas of it. If you want a ring, then we’ll design you a different one."


The Meghan Markle Effect... Is officially very much underway, with pieces she wears selling out in minutes. Indeed, brands are struggling to keep up with demand for items she's worn since the engagement. These statistics shared by Max Foster offer an early insight into the potential influence Meghan may have on the British fashion industry in the years to come.

Max Foster CNN

Scottish brand Strathberry reported an increase in searches of a whopping 2044% with stock selling out in eleven minutes. It's incredible to see the impact on a small business. The tote in Burgundy/Navy/Vanilla will be restocked soon with the company taking email addresses from those who wish to be notified.

Strathberry

Kurt Geiger is also taking pre-orders for the Violet boots Meghan wore in Nottingham.

Kurt Geiger

Cover Girl... Have you noticed the sheer number of covers Meghan has featured on in the past fortnight? I believe I counted nine in my local newsagent and considerably more elsewhere.


Hello! led with 'The Magic of Meghan'.


International magazines such as Elle France used older images.


As did this weekend's Fabulous magazine.


Follow the Blog... I received several emails from readers over the past week interested in subscribing. On the sidebar, there's a 'Follow by Email' widget. If you enter your email address and click submit you will be signed up and subscribed to receive updates. For mobile users, if you cannot view the sidebar and wish to subscribe, drop me an email at hrhcatherineblog@hotmail.com and I'll add you to the list.


For those on social media you can follow the blog on Twitter here and Facebook here.

I've added a Meghan's Calendar and included the info on the sidebar of the blog.


And that's our wrap up for tonight. Thank you for reading! :)

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Meghan's First Christmas with the Royals

On a cold Christmas morning in 1997, Prince Harry and Prince William joined the Royal family for the annual walk from Sandringham House to St Mary Magdalene Church on the estate where, as always, locals gathered to exchange festive wishes, flowers and cards with the royals. Skimming through the images now, it almost looks like any other royal Christmas, steeped in tradition and familiarity. For William and Harry it was anything but; less than four months earlier they had tragically lost their mother, Diana, Princess of Wales in a car accident in Paris; a loss we now know they are still trying to come to terms with. As any of us who have lost loved ones know, Christmas can serve as a painful reminder of those not present, their absence all the more sorely felt on a day reserved for family. At 15 and 13, I cannot begin to imagine how they must have felt knowing they would never spend the occasion with their mother again. Behind the smiles and gracious greetings, they were two boys hurting and making their way through what had to be an extraordinarily difficult day...

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Leo Tolstoy famously said "the most powerful warriors are patience and time" and with the passage of twenty years, both William and Harry have now found happiness in their lives. On Christmas morning, the scene outside St Mary Magdalene Church will be in stark contrast to that sad day in 1997. Prince William was lucky enough to meet 'the one' at St Andrews University and as they approach their seventh wedding anniversary with their third child on the way, it's safe to say William has found happiness. It was a longer road for Prince Harry, who found relationships difficult because of how hard he found it to deal with the loss of his mother. Now, life has come full circle for him too, and he will make the walk to Church with his future wife, Meghan Markle, by his side.


The Sunday Times journalist Roya Nikkhah (if you're new to following the royal beat, Roya is one of the finest journalists out there) confirmed over the weekend: "Meghan Markle will join the royal family for Christmas at Sandringham in yet another break with tradition. The actress will also be the first royal fiancée to open presents with the Queen on December 24, before she officially becomes a member of the royal family. It is understood that Harry asked the Queen to make an exception for Markle over Christmas. She relocated last month from Toronto, her home for the past seven years, to London shortly before the couple announced their engagement last Monday — as predicted by The Sunday Times last weekend. The move signals how fully Markle has been welcomed into the royal family after her 16-month romance with the fifth (soon to be sixth) in line to the throne."


What prompted the change from tradition? As noted by The Times, the Queen is very close to her grandsons and I believe would have been more than happy to accommodate Harry's wish to spend Christmas with his fiancée. I believe there's a wider element to her thinking too; Her Majesty has witnessed so much throughout her reign, she's incredibly astute when it comes to reading the public and media temperature. It will not have gone unnoticed by her or her courtiers the vitriolic campaign factions of the press and social media have been vehemently running against Meghan. Disgruntled people from her past are being paid six figures sums to betray the woman they once called a 'friend'. Why, one might ask, would such people have one iota of credibility? Yet, every slight and salacious tale is being digested with relish by some. Meghan's father, Thomas Markle, has been hunted down like a wanted criminal. Labelled a "recluse" and "a man in hiding" because he wishes to support his daughter and unlike other members of the family, avoid at all costs selling her out to the press. I've observed the royals closely for a decade, and I've seen cruel stories, blatantly untrue 'exclusives', relatives of royals targeted, but I have never seen anything like this. What better way for the Queen and the Royal family to show how warmly they have welcomed Meghan than to invite her for Christmas?


Meghan will need one rather large suitcase as Christmas Day alone requires a number of outfit changes. The Duchess of York famously complained about having to change seven times. From a stylish but serviceable warm coat and hat for the church service to an elegant gown and jewels for the evening, successfully navigating the sartorial requirements of the day is no mean feat.


The festivities are a three-day affair for the Royal family, commencing on Christmas eve when immediate and extended family members descend on the leafy Norfolk Estate. The Sunday Times reports it's likely Harry and Meghan will stay at Anmer Hall, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's country pile, also located on the estate, joining the Queen and other members each day.


If true, I think it's a lovely idea and a very relaxed way for Meghan to spend her first Christmas with the royals. Indeed, they'll be there to see Prince George and Princess Charlotte opening their stockings. During the engagement, Meghan said Kate's been "wonderful". I'm sure they'll both be getting ready together before heading over to Sandringham House.


Prince Philip has been enjoying much of his retirement on the estate and nothing gives him and the Queen more pleasure than welcoming at least a twenty-five-strong crowd. At 4 pm, the family gathers in the White Drawing Room for Earl Grey tea, cakes, home-made scones and a chat.


The Queen encourages the younger royals to add decorations and finishing touches to the tree - a Norfolk spruce taken from the estate. In fact, the Queen adores Christmas trees and has one in each room. The Master of the Household then gives each member a timetable and room plan, so they know where to be and when. Below, we see Meghan decorating the tree with friends last year.


The Queen will then give the go ahead for gifts to be presented and opened. They are not opened on Christmas Day, as the Queen adheres to strict observance of the religious festival. Trestle tables are laid out in the nearby Red Drawing Room, with sections marked off showing each family member's gifts, laid out in order of precedence. When it comes to gifts, the royals love to show their humour, shunning expensive gifts in favour of items with a good dollop of fun attached. Harry is a dab hand at this already, once giving his grandmother a shower cap with the slogan 'Ain't Life a Bitch'. Royals also love to get creative, and foodie Meghan may opt to prepare edible treats. Apparently she makes a mean berry crumble!


The gifts will be accompanied with cards and notes written in her beautiful handwriting. Meghan once worked as a professional calligrapher. She wrote a special note for Santa and shared it on her Instagram page.


All that gift opening is thirsty work! Next, it's time for Martinis and cider. Then it's back to their rooms for baths and another change of clothes. After a gong at 8 pm, guests are seated for dinner. Men will be dressed in black tie, while women will be draped in full-length gowns. The candlelit three-course meal usually consists of lamb or locally sourced game. Once dinner is finished, the women move to another room for coffee, whilst the men enjoy liqueurs. Afterwards, the Cambridges and Harry and Meghan will return to Anmer for a good night's sleep.

On Christmas morning, Meghan will mark a significant royal milestone as she joins the Royal family for the annual walk to the picturesque St Mary Magdalene Church.


Upon return to the house it is yet another outfit change before they all sit down for Christmas lunch at 1.15 pm. Norfolk turkey accompanied by a selection of cold meats and a variety of side dishes is served. At precisely 3 pm the family gathers round to watch the Queen's Christmas message. The evening consists of a walk around the estate, board games, television and drinks.


The Sunday Times added that "a friend of Harry’s said: 'Now they are engaged it was unthinkable that they would be apart for Christmas. The Royal family have fully welcomed Meghan into the fold.' On Boxing Day, guests traditionally take part in a pheasant shoot on the 20,000-acre estate, although Markle, who is thought to be opposed to blood sports, is unlikely to join in".


From there, it's reported Harry and Meghan will ring in the New Year in LA with Meghan's mother Doria Ragland. Kensington Palace confirmed Meghan would be travelling for several weeks before the wedding to spend quality time with family and friends. I imagine it's quite possible the trip to California could be the beginning of the time away. January is traditionally a very quiet month on the royal calendar; perhaps Harry and Meghan will spend it abroad?


Kensington Palace is expected to confirm Meghan's attendance at Sandringham closer to the date. I for one will be delighted to see her taking her place beside Harry on the day. It will no doubt be an unforgettable Christmas for both of them - their first together - and a lovely opportunity to unwind and relax before the hustle and bustle of wedding planning in 2018!

Friday, 1 December 2017

Harry and Meghan Begin a New Chapter as They Carry Out First Official Engagements in Nottingham

Four days after their engagement announcement, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle marked a major royal milestone as they carried out their first official engagements in Nottingham today.


News of the visit was both very exciting and unexpected. I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly Meghan is diving into her new role. For anyone entering the Royal family, especially one who will have an important part to play, there is so much to learn and numerous layers to consider, given the myriad duties senior royals undertake. I understand today's engagements are the first of many around the UK which will offer Meghan invaluable experience. As Meghan's not from the UK, she's clearly keen to get to know as many places and organisations as possible before the wedding.


During the engagement interview Meghan elaborated on this point, saying: "Very early out of the gate I think we realised once you have access or a voice that people are willing to listen to, comes a lot of responsibility which I take seriously and at the same time in the beginning few months and now being boots on the ground in the UK, I'm excited just to really get to know more about the different communities here, the smaller organisations working on the same causes I've always been passionate about. And also being able to go around to the Commonwealth. I think it's just the beginning."


For their first official engagements, it was important to Prince Harry to introduce his future bride to Nottingham, a community that holds a special place in his heart. Harry has spent a significant amount of time there both publicly and privately since he first visited in 2013 when he was exploring issues surrounding youth violence. He is immensely proud of the partnerships and friendships he has built there. Kensington Palace noted: "Ms Markle cannot wait to meet many of the young people Prince Harry has told her so much about.


The day began at the National Justice Museum where the couple received a warm welcome as crowds gathered to greet them on their first walkabout.


It was the perfect way to greet members of the public for the first time and a great start to the day.


Meghan was given flowers and congratulatory cards.


Meghan told one well-wisher "I can't believe it, I've been made so welcome and I can't believe it".


At another point, she said: "I'm so happy, It's just such a thrill to be here."


This video from Victoria Murphy is priceless :)


One of my favourite royal reporters Richard Palmer received a handshake from Meghan.


Victoria Murphy described Meghan as a "natural" with the crowds.


Meghan gave one of her handwarmers to a member of the crowd.

Fiona Mackie Twitter Feed

Prince Harry greets locals.


Meghan with little royal fans :)


People reports:

'While the two were greeting the crowds, one bold fan asked what it was like to be with someone like Meghan “as a ginger. “It’s great isn’t it … unbelievable!” Harry joked in response.
Among the lucky people getting a quick chat was Caroline Cartwright, who told Meghan she and husband Andrew were big fans of Suits. “I told her Mike should be here,” Caroline told PEOPLE. “She said ‘I don’t think he would be today!’ She is just as beautiful as she is on TV. She is absolutely perfect, most wonderful and perfect for him.”
Claire Kelsall handed Harry a celebration card made by her daughter Ruby, 7. “The card had ‘Congratulations Harry and Meghan’. She drew a picture of the ring and it had a picture of the couple inside,” Kelsall, 28, tells PEOPLE. “I told him that we are really big fans and would see him at the wedding. He was very, very pleased and asked where Ruby was. She is in school. I told him we’d come and see him at the wedding. He was very pleased with the card and put it inside his coat. She adds, “They are a lovely couple. They looked lovely together.”
When the actress met people she made a point of introducing herself saying “Hi, I’m Meghan.”

Can you spot Meghan?


Today is World AIDS Day. The late Princess Diana was a passionate advocate for HIV/AIDS awareness, and her work in destigmatizing has been credited with changing attitudes of those all over the world. The cause is incredibly close to Harry's heart too, and in carrying on his mother's work, it's no surprise he chose World AIDS Day for what would already be a particularly high profile day in his life.


What did locals who met the future royal think. The Telegraph has the scoop:

'One group of mothers had brought five small children for their first encounter with royalty, with Claire Saribi saying they could not pass up the opportunity to show them history in action. Her son Idris, one, had been practising saying "congratulations" ahead of the walkabout, while Zoë and Emilia, who are three and friends from ballet class, made a card covered in star-shaped stickers.
Ms Markle crouched down to meet them and ask how old they were, and thank them for the card. Helena Bottomly, who gave a bag of Haribo to Meghan to pass to her fiance, stood with three friends who had brought red and white roses, said: "She was really pleased with the presents. We congratulated her." Asked for their assessment of Ms Markle, the friends said: "She's a little gem."
Meghan, 36, showed that she is already learning the royal rules when it comes to official visits, politely declining to pose for a selfie, telling one couple: “We’re not allowed.” Barbara Miller, 63, from Nottingham, said: “She said thank you very much for braving the cold. “I said ‘can we have a selfie?’. She said ‘we’re not allowed to do selfies’. She was so pleasant, she was lovely. She said to my husband ‘your hands are really cold’."

Harry and Meghan visited the Nottingham Contemporary which hosted a Terrence Higgins Trust World AIDS Day charity fair.


Nottingham Contemporary is a contemporary art centre in the Lace Market area of Nottingham, on a site said to be the oldest in the city. To celebrate the area's history of lace manufacture, the cladding of the building is embossed with a traditional Nottingham lace pattern.


They met representatives from Terrence Higgins Trust Nottingham, the African Institute for Social Development and Champions for Change, who each support local communities in Nottingham and do specific work around HIV/AIDS.


They also met representatives from the Food Chain and BHIVA, which support people living with HIV and works towards eradicating the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS.


Harry has worked with the Terrence Higgins Trust in the past to raise awareness. How did the organisation begin? Terry Higgins was one of the first people in the UK to die with AIDS. He died aged 37, on 4 July 1982 in St Thomas' Hospital, London. By naming the Trust after Terry, the founder members – his partner and friends – hoped to personalise and humanise AIDS in a very public way.


More on the history of the trust:

'From its small beginnings in a flat in central London, Terrence Higgins Trust has grown to become the UK's leading HIV and sexual health charity, and one of the largest in Europe. It has always been at the forefront of the fight against HIV and AIDS, and since it was formed, the needs of people living with, and affected by, HIV have been fundamental to its development.
The charity's roots were in the gay community and, for many years, the HIV epidemic in the UK affected mainly gay men. Nonetheless, we've always worked in an equal way with gay men, haemophiliacs, sex-workers and drug users from the start. As the shape of the epidemic here has changed, so has the charity. There are now nearly as many African people living in the UK diagnosed with HIV and in care as gay men now, though the majority of new infections continue to be among gay men. So existing services have been developed and new services introduced to meet ever-changing needs.'

Their campaign this year is See Red. "Today, people all over the world will wear a red ribbon with pride, without fear, shame or stigma. On World AIDS Day, the colour red represents solidarity, love, activism and remembrance. The more we See Red, the sooner we will end the HIV epidemic." If you would like to donate or find out more information please click here. £50 could help run one session at a newly diagnosed group.


The couple wore their red ribbons in support of the campaign.


Next, Harry and Meghan travelled on to Nottingham Academy where met head teachers from the Academy and local primary schools as well Full Effect staff and mentors.


Following his time in Nottingham, Prince Harry established the Full Effect programme in 2013 supported by the Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry. The programme supports children and young people in an effort to prevent their involvement in youth violence and crime through a combination of early intervention, mentorship, and training. As Meghan will become a patron of the Royal Foundation after the wedding, it was an excellent opportunity for her to see the success of one of its programmes first hand.


It is lovely to observe how tactile Harry and Meghan were with each other throughout the day.


During their visit to the Academy, Prince Harry and Ms Markle heard first-hand from staff about the positive impact Full Effect is having on the local school communities and students.


Harry and Meghan had the opportunity to meet some of the children benefiting from the programme's Friday Night Youth Club which began in September.


More from the Mail Online's story:

'Chris O'Hanlon, who is a peer mentor for Positively UK, a charity which helps people newly diagnosed with HIV, talked to them about his own diagnosis and the importance of fitness in dealing with HIV. 'I spoke to Meghan about my passion for yoga,' said Mr O'Hanlon, 40, a clinical hypnotherapist from Luton. 'I said, 'You are a big yogi and love your yoga.' She said, 'Absolutely, I love incorporating it into my life, it is something I have always done.'
He said the couple were 'so natural' together. 'They are very personable. It is very easy to talk to them because they are so open. They have a very jokey attitude. You worry that you have to be 'They seem amazingly comfortable together. You can see that it's a perfect match. 'This may have been her first official engagement, but she was a complete natural at it. She was incredibly observant about what we were talking about, and very interested. She picked up on quite a few things that I was saying, particularly in terms of my own diagnosis. She was very empathetic.'

Prince Harry and Meghan also caught up with Chantelle Stefanovic, a project coordinator for the Full Effect programme, who recently spoke about the issues facing children and young people in St Ann’s at the inaugural summit of the Obama Foundation in Chicago.


Chantelle is actually a significant part of the reason for Harry's involvement in the area.


She wrote Harry a searingly honest letter explaining her troubled background and the issues in the area. Harry revealed: "She said: 'You need to know my back story and exactly what happens in this community.' I really respected and admired that - it was exactly what I needed to know, we were in the right place." At the summit, Chantelle spoke about her life: "When you are...growing up knowing that your mum is missing her dinner to feed you, all you want to do is help, and you help by any means necessary. The solution for me when I was younger was to help in a way that was quite negative."


You can view Harry and Chantelle's participation at the Obama Summit in the video below.


The couple watched a Hip-Opera performance.


And posed with the cast for photos.


Moving on to what Meghan wore for her first official engagements.


For a very chilly morning in Nottingham, Meghan wrapped up in her Mackage Elodie Double Breasted Military Coat. The piece is described as "A broad, draping collar, epaulets and belted cuffs bring a commanding yet elegant presence to a double-breasted military jacket cut with an elongated maxi silhouette. A touch of cashmere adds softness to the dense, wool-blend fabric, while a deep midnight navy shade gives the striking piece a timeless quality that elevates any ensemble." Meghan has had the piece by the popular Canadian brand for some time. It is now available for pre-order on the Mackage website retailing at $790.

Mackage

With thanks to Meghan's Fashion, Wolford confirmed Meghan wore their Colorado Bodysuit. It is available at ShopBop and Barneys.

ShopBop

The fantastic team at Meghan's Mirror identified Meghan's skirt is the Joseph Laurel Full Midi Skirt. The beige cotton piece retails for £595 at FarFetch, Matches and Net-A-Porter where it is discounted by up to 50%. Joseph is a popular British brand which has been worn by a number of royals over the years.

FarFetch

Kurt Geiger confirmed Meghan wore their Violet Black Suede Over The Knee Boots. The £229 boots are described as "Dramatic in style and contemporary in design, these boots sit on a sleek cone-shaped heel and slope to a smart pointed toe. Padding in the sock ensures a comfortable fit so they can be worn effortlessly from desk to dinner."

Kurt Geiger

They are available in limited sizing at House of Fraser, John Lewis and Kurt Geiger.


Meghan's gorgeous handbag is the Strathberry Midi Tote in white navy and deep red (with thanks to Meghan's Mirror). The tote features a sleek design and beautiful leather construction. Strathberry is a Scottish luxury accessories brand. The tote is available at Saks Fifth Avenue for $675.


It can also be purchased in a wide selection of colours on the Strathberry website.

Strathberry

We are seeing very clear signs of The Meghan Effect taking off. The Telegraph writes: Meghan Markle boosts two British brands in Nottingham - with her bag selling out in minutes:

'Markle’s beige skirt was bought from the cult label Joseph, priced at £595. Sunderland-born creative director Louise Trotter has worked hard to reinvigorate the brand in recent years, bringing it onto the London Fashion Week schedule and making effortlessly cool pieces to covet. “It was a total surprise,” Trotter, fresh off the Eurostar, tells The Telegraph of the spotting. “I’m thrilled that Meghan chose to wear Joseph on her first public official outing with Prince Harry. The skirt is from the autumn 2017 runway collection and is a take on a classic chino military skirt that's sliced, with added pleats and volume.”
Similarly, despite a well-documented new-found passion for Somerset-made Mulberry bags, Markle kept things understated by choosing a tote by Edinburgh-based Strathberry. Ironically, Markle's tri-colour design is only sold at the department store Saks on New York’s Fifth Avenue, but the brand has confirmed to The Telegraph that they sent her the style a few weeks ago. With prices starting at £225 for their luxury leather bags, she is perhaps showing an understanding that she needs to give fans a glimpse of something they will be able to buy themselves.
"We are thrilled and honoured to see Meghan Markle carrying our Strathberry Midi Tote," a spokesperson for the brand told us this morning. "It was a fantastic surprise to see that Meghan selected one of our core Strathberry styles to carry on her first royal engagement. We are delighted at the news of her and Harry’s engagement and wish them all the best for this exciting period."

A nice video from CBC News.



During their engagement interview, Meghan spoke of beginning a new chapter of her life. That chapter successfully started today, not only for her as she prepares to become a royal, but for the Royal family in general. She must have been nervous. When they arrived initially I thought she looked a little taken aback, however, the moment she began meeting people and shaking hands she appeared completely at ease. Her excitement at the welcome she received was evident and she really took the time to talk to people.  As people who met Meghan said, she's a natural. At the engagements she was completely professional - one would think she had been doing it for years. I very much enjoyed seeing Meghan combine pieces from her own wardrobe with British brands. It was also wonderful to see how affectionate Harry and Meghan were with each other throughout the day too. These two make one terrific pairing. :)


Nottingham gave them a very warm welcome for the first of many engagements in the months ahead. I would class today as a resounding success, well done Meghan!