Hundreds of well-wishers greeted Meghan and Harry upon arrival at their first official joint engagement in Nottingham to mark World Aids Day. Today marks only four days since the announcement of their engagement.
Harry has visited Nottingham many times before and “was delighted to be introducing the city to Ms. Markle.” According to Kensington Palace.
Today’s visit will herald what Kensington Palace has described as “an intensive six-month ‘tour’ of the UK, in order to get to know her adopted country, its communities and its people.”
During their official engagement interview on Monday, Meghan said: ‘Now being boots on the ground in the UK I’m excited to just really get to know more about the different communities here, smaller organizations who are working on the same causes that I’ve always been passionate about….and also being able to go round the Commonwealth, I think it’s just the beginning.’
Kensington Palace said she had made clear she wanted to start her life with Harry “with a clean slate” and devote herself to the issues that matter in the UK, a decision Harry has supported her in.
Her first formal charity role will be as the fourth patron of William, Kate, and Harry’s own charity, The Royal Foundation.
A royal spokesman said:
‘Miss Markle is incredibly grateful for the opportunities she has had with World Vision Canada and with UN women. She has through those organizations had the chance to meet incredible organizations right around the world, people doing great grassroots work.
But she has made the decision that she wants to start with a clean slate and focus on the UK and getting to know this country, travelling around the Commonwealth, and so the only role she will begin her royal life with is the Royal Foundation and that has been a decision that she has taken.
Miss Markle has talked in the past about the issues she cares about and I am sure that those themes will continue in the future.
But she has been very clear with us that her priority is getting around this country, learning about communities right around the UK and any particular themes she will pick up I’ll leave her to talk about in her own time.’
Harry and Meghan spent around half an hour meeting the people of Nottingham who had been waiting for hours despite the cold weather. Meghan appeared very comfortable and completely at ease. As said before – this is her first official royal engagement and if she was nervous at all it did not show. She smiled, she chatted, at one point she even picked up someone’s glove and handed it back to them.
At one point, Meghan and Harry split up in Nottingham to cover both parts of the pavement and meet the maximum number of people.
At one point, Meghan said: ‘I’m so happy,’ adding: ‘It’s just such a thrill to be here. I can’t believe it’. During the walkabout, she introduced herself to people with a cheery: ‘Hi, I’m Meghan’.
Just before Meghan and Harry headed inside to the Nottingham Contemporary gallery, Harry spotted a familiar face in the crowd – Ms. Hardman who has been a keen supporter of Harry throughout the years. She is well-known for her way of greeting Harry on his trips to the city.
Ms. Hardman met Prince Charles more than 16 years ago when he opened Age Concern in Shakespeare Street. It was during this visit to the city that she handed him two bags of Haribo for William and Harry, who were youngsters at the time. And it is a tradition that has stuck ever since, making sure she battles the crowd on every visit to hand the prince his sweets.
During their meeting, she laughed and chatted with the couple. She said afterward that the meeting was ‘very emotional’ adding about Meghan ‘I cried – she’s wonderful, and it’s fantastic. They’re so genuine.’
University of Nottingham students Raushana and Jenn, set their alarms for 6 o’clock in the morning to get a nice spot to try to meet Harry and Meghan.
“It’s such an honor to see the royals,” Raushana said adding: “I’m also a fan of suits, so it’s the chance to see a star of that too.!
A very nice video from Meghan and Harry’s walkabout in Nottingham:
After the walkabout, Meghan and Harry went to the Nottingham Contemporary Exhibition Centre for an event to mark World Aids Day.
The Executive Director of Digital and Marketing at the Terrence Higgins Trust, Dominic Edwards, told the BBC that they were “thrilled” the couple had chosen to visit Nottingham and said: “I think it really underlines his great support for HIV as a cause.”
The visit represented a link with the legacy of Princess Diana’s influential work on HIV 30 years ago and was “no coincidence” according to a royal commentator.
As one of the largest galleries of contemporary art in the UK, Nottingham Contemporary hosts regularly changing exhibitions of international art. The gallery is set in an iconic building, designed by the award-winning architect Caruso St John, in the heart of the city center.
Meghan and Harry visited the Nottingham Contemporary art gallery which is hosting a charity fair to mark World Aids Day. They met staff from the HIV charity, the Terence Higgins Trust along with members of the African Institute for Social Development and Champions for Change, who carry out work involving HIV and AIDS.
A football team of young black African men from Nottingham spoke to Meghan and Harry about their work with Terrence Higgins Trust to tackle stigma among their community, which is disproportionately affected by HIV. The football team is sponsored by Terrence Higgins Trust’s Champions of Change project, which works with ‘champions in local black African communities to tackle stigma, encourage testing and talk about the realities of HIV.”
Terrence Higgins Trust is the UK’s leading HIV and sexual health charity. They support people living with HIV and amplify their voices and help the people using our services to achieve good sexual health. The charity was founded by Terry Higgins who was one of the first people in the UK to die with AIDS. He died aged 37, on 4 July 1982.
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 color red represents solidarity, love, activism, and remembrance. The more we See Red, the sooner we will end the HIV epidemic.”
Meghan and Harry met with a number of people from different organizations during their visit.
Daily Mail reported:
“Sandra Spence, centre manager for the Terrence Higgins Trust, said: ‘They were very relaxed. They fed off each other, which is unusual in a couple but nice to see. It was refreshing to see two people who actually gelled, as opposed to two people who needed to be together.’
Her colleague Liz Waters, a health promotion specialist for MSM (Men who have sex with men), said: “They have a lovely glow about them.”
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. Not only will she make a good addition to the royal family, she will make an excellent ambassador to any of the causes she puts her heart and her mind to.’
As she met Lorraine Dube, 29, a volunteer with the African Institute for Social Development, and her son Ezekiel Wong, two, Ms Markle tried valiantly to coax him out of his shyness, stroking his arm and chatting to him. ‘She is absolutely lovely,’ said Ms Dube. ‘You can tell that she loves kids. Ezekiel was very shy. She was trying to get him to say something. In the end he said thank you as she walked off, which I thought was really cute. She said he was a cute little boy.’
As she left, she passed another small child in their mother’s arms, reached out and said: ‘So sweet!’
Meghan and Harry’s visit to the Nottingham Contemporary, was followed by a visit to Nottingham Academy where they learned more about the work being done with young people in the area and watched a performance of a ‘hip hop opera’.
The ´hip hop opera’. performers included rap artists, and four actors taking part in a short sketch which started with a couple arguing over whether to spread news of their relationship.
After the performances – organized with the help of Full Effect and the Community Recording Studio – the couple took to the stage to chat with the actors and singers. A group photo was taken.
“Nottingham Academy pupils Nico Ricci and Freddie Taylor, both 11, were among the kickboxers who shook hands with the couple.
Year 7 pupil Nico, from Mapperley, told reporters: ‘I know that we had to show them our skills and I shook their hands, but I can’t remember what they said. It was nerve-racking.’
Freddie, who carried on sparring with Nico as Harry and Ms Markle chatted to their classmates, said: ‘They said ‘keep on practicing your skills’ and they were both really nice.’
Ms Stefanovic was presented with a framed picture of herself, Harry, and Barack Obama – taken at the Chicago summit – by the couple.Praising the prince’s commitment to help people in the local area, the 30-year-old mentor said: ‘He really is an amazing inspirational person. ‘Meeting Meghan today was absolutely wonderful – the girls really took to her and their support is just fantastic for us.’
Fellow Full Effect mentor Cain Thomas, a ex-pupil of the school from nearby St Ann’s, also praised the interest and support the Royal Foundation has provided in the area.”
Meghan and Harry also heard first-hand from staff about the positive impact Full Effect is having on the local school communities and students. The program is led by Prince Harry and was launched in his role as a patron of The Royal Foundation.
“Full Effect’s focus is driven by a passion to improve the lives and prospects of young people from disadvantaged backgrounds. It’s an initiative close to Prince Harry’s heart, as he first thought of the idea after privately visiting the St Ann’s area of Nottingham in 2013.”
For her first engagement ever in the UK Meghan stunned a very casual outfit!
Stepping out to meet the crowd, she wore her Mackage Elodie Double Breasted Military Coat. The coat is described on the website as a “warm double-breasted trench made in luxurious wool. The semi-fitted silhouette features menswear-inspired detailing, such as shoulder and sleeve tabs and an overlapping shirt collar with button. With leather welt pockets and a back collar stand, ELODIE will take you from work to evening events with simplicity and style.”
Underneath the coat, Meghan wore the Colorado Bodysuit by Wolford.
… and the Joseph Laurel Full Midi Skirt.
Meghan carried the Strathberry Midi Tote
Strathberry is based in Edinburgh and was founded just four years ago in 2013.
A Strathberry spokeswoman said: “We are thrilled and honoured to see Meghan Markle carrying our Strathberry midi tote in tri-colour burgundy/navy/vanilla.We are delighted at the news of her and Prince Harry’s engagement, and wish them all the best for this exciting period. “It was a fantastic surprise to see that Meghan selected one of our core Strathberry styles to carry on her first royal engagement.
A very nice video from today’s engagement
A lovely, lovely day!