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Watch: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle carry out first public engagement in Nottingham

PRINCE HARRY and bride-to-be Meghan Markle today began their public life together in Nottingham.

Hundreds of well-wishers had gathered to greet the couple and were not disappointed as the prince and his fiancee appeared determined to meet almost everyone on their first joint engagement.

A sea of camera phones greeted their arrival along with chants of “Harry, Harry” and “Meghan, Meghan”.

The American former actress appeared to take the outpouring of affection and interest from the well-wishers in her stride, looking confident as she greeted the crowds with a smile and handshake.

A cashmere coat kept Ms Markle warm on her first royal engagement (Jeremy Selwyn/Evening Standard/PA)
A cashmere coat kept Ms Markle warm on her first royal engagement (Jeremy Selwyn/Evening Standard/PA)

During the walkabout, which lasted just over 20 minutes, Ms Markle was wrapped up against the cold in a long dark blue coat by Mackage, and boots, and was handed armfuls of flowers, chocolates and other gifts.

She was without gloves, so her engagement ring was on display, and carried a handbag – something Kate rarely does.

Avid fan Irene Hardman, who is well-known for handing bags of Haribo sweets to Harry, and first presented his father, the Prince of Wales, with two bags – the other for brother William – 20 years ago, was a familiar face in the crowd.

The 81-year-old handed Ms Markle a goody bag containing fridge magnets and other gifts. She said afterwards that the meeting was “very emotional”.

Through tears of joy, she said: “I cried – she’s wonderful, and it’s fantastic. They’re so genuine.”

The visit aims to raise awareness of HIV/Aids and efforts to tackle youth crime.

The couple, who arrived by train, began their tour with a civic welcome at the National Justice Museum in Nottingham’s historic Lace Market district.

They walked towards a group of dignitaries with one arm around each other’s backs and then moved along the seemingly endless line of well-wishers.

Harry and Meghan were wrapped up warmly (PA)
Harry and Meghan were wrapped up warmly (PA)

The prince and his fiancee appeared eager to meet the public with Harry at one point asking someone “can I shake your hand?”.

He then smiled when a well-wisher shouted, from three or four rows back behind a crash barrier: “How does it feel being a ginger with Meghan?”

The former Army officer replied with a grin “It’s great, isn’t it?”, when the man said the word “unbelievable?”, Harry responded “unbelievable”.

One of the stranger sights during the meet-and-greet with the public was well-wisher Frank Shelton who had brought his barn owl Kim to meet the couple.

At points during the walkabout, Ms Markle put a reassuring hand on Harry’s back and early on she was given a bunch of cream coloured flowers.