Prince Harry and Meghan Markle begin first joint royal visit


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Media captionPrince Harry and Meghan Markle met crowds as they arrived in Nottingham

Prince Harry and his bride-to-be Meghan Markle have begun their first joint official public engagement in Nottingham.

Crowds cheered as the couple greeted well-wishers, ahead of a visit to a World Aids Day charity fair, hosted by the Terrence Higgins Trust.

The morning will be spent at the fair and they will then meet head teachers at a nearby school.

The couple announced their engagement on Monday.

They are due to marry at Windsor Castle in May.

Prince Harry has spent time in Nottingham both publicly and privately since he first met young people there in 2013, when he was exploring issues around youth violence.

A year later, he established the Full Effect programme, which aims to stop youth violence in the city.

At Nottingham Academy, the couple will watch a “hip hopera” and meet students.

The prince’s communication’s secretary, Jason Knauf, said the prince was looking forward to introducing Ms Markle to a community that had “become very special to him”.

He said Ms Markle could not wait to meet people she had heard so much about.

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Meghan Markle was given flowers by a member of the public

Dickie Arbiter, former royal spokesman, told the BBC: “They’ve taken their time, they’re talking to as many people as possible – it has been the best part of half an hour.

“It is important that they meet as many people as possible.

“They are standing out there, they’re cold, they’ve been waiting a long time, and the feeling is if they have waited for us, then we can spend as much time as possible with them.”

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Prince Harry and Meghan Markle greeted the crowds as they arrived in Nottingham

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The couple’s engagement was announced on Monday

Well-wishers gathered in Nottingham to catch a glimpse of the couple, including Helena Bottomley, Zoe Scott and Carole Bingham, from East and West Bridgford.

Ms Scott said: “We love the royals. We are genuinely happy for Harry.”

“We all had our children at the same time as Diana [Princess of Wales] so we feel a real allegiance. She would be so thrilled,” said Ms Bottomley.

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The crowd in Nottingham was ready to welcome the couple

University of Nottingham students Raushana Nurzhubalina, from Kazakhstan, and Jenn Garandy, from Canada, set their alarms for 06:00 GMT to get a prime spot to try to see Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.

“It is such an honour to see the royals,” Ms Nurzhubalina said.

“I’m also a fan of Suits, so it is a chance to see a star of that too.”

Royal fan Irene Hardman has a goody bag ready to hand over to the couple, including copies of the local paper and two fridge magnets “so they don’t fight over it”.

“We privileged they’ve chosen Nottingham to be their first official engagement,” the 81-year-old said.

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It was an early start for students Raushana Nurzhubalina and Jenn Garandy

Dominic Edwards, from the Terrence Higgins Trust, told the BBC the charity was “thrilled” the couple had chosen to visit Nottingham, and said: “I think it really underlines his great support for HIV as a cause.”

Royal Life magazine editor Allan Bryce said: “It was obvious she (Megan) would hit the ground running.

“Now she’s got to get to know Britain, her adopted country.”

On Tuesday, the couple’s spokesman said Ms Markle would not be continuing her work on gender with the United Nations or with other organisations and instead would start new charity work as a full-time royal.

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 travelling 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.

The foundation is behind Prince Harry’s Invictus Games – the Paralympic-style competition for injured servicemen and women and veterans – and also the mental health charity Heads Together.

It has also been announced that Ms Markle intends to become a British citizen and will work towards it in the coming years.

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