Tuesday 21 November 2017

Meghan Markle makes first appearance at an official event with Prince Harry...but still doesn't sit with him

Meghan Markle (center R, wearing maroon), girlfriend of Britain's Prince Harry, watches the opening ceremony of the Invictus Games in Toronto, Ontario, Canada September 23, 2017. REUTERS/Mark Blinch
Meghan Markle (center R, wearing maroon), girlfriend of Britain's Prince Harry, watches the opening ceremony of the Invictus Games in Toronto, Ontario, Canada September 23, 2017. REUTERS/Mark Blinch
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko (first row, L) and his wife Maryna Poroshenko, U.S. first lady Melania Trump (second row, L) and Britain's Prince Harry (second row, second from L), attend during the opening ceremony for the Invictus Games in Toronto, Canada, September 23, 2017. REUTERS/Mark Blinch
Meghan Markle watches Prince Harry speak during the opening ceremony of the 2017 Invictus Games at Air Canada Centre on September 23, 2017 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images )
Meghan Markle attends the Opening Ceremony of the 2017 Invictus Games at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Canada. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday September 23, 2017. Photo credit should read: Danny Lawson/PA Wire
U.S. first lady Melania Trump meets with Britain's Prince Harry before attending the opening ceremony of the Invictus Games in Toronto, Canada September 23, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
The First Lady of the United States Melania Trump and Prince Harry attend the Opening Ceremony of the 2017 Invictus Games at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Canada. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday September 23, 2017. Photo credit should read: Danny Lawson/PA Wire
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Meghan Markle has made her long-awaited first appearance at an official engagement attended by Prince Harry.

The US actress was spotted at the opening ceremony of the Invictus Games in Toronto, the competition for wounded veterans founded by the Prince.

However the couple, who have been an item for just over a year, were not sitting together in the stands of the Air Canada Centre.

Ms Markle's seat was in a public section of the crowd, while Harry watched on around 20 places and four rows away in a VIP area.

Meghan Markle watches Prince Harry speak during the opening ceremony of the 2017 Invictus Games at Air Canada Centre on September 23, 2017 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images )
Meghan Markle watches Prince Harry speak during the opening ceremony of the 2017 Invictus Games at Air Canada Centre on September 23, 2017 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images )

Seated next to US first lady Melania Trump, Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau and Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko, the Queen's grandson rose to his feet as the UK team arrived in the stadium.

Meanwhile the Suits star, who wore a plum-coloured leather jacket and a burgundy pleated dress paired with a red velvet clutch bag, smiled and clapped as the 550 competitors from 17 nations filed in.

Meghan Markle attends the Opening Ceremony of the 2017 Invictus Games at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Canada. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday September 23, 2017. Photo credit should read: Danny Lawson/PA Wire
Meghan Markle attends the Opening Ceremony of the 2017 Invictus Games at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Canada. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday September 23, 2017. Photo credit should read: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

Ms Markle is reported to have been accompanied in the stadium by a friend, Markus Anderson, while members of the Prince's protection squad stood guard.

At least one member of the crowd is said to have been stopped as they tried to take a photograph of the actress.

The Toronto resident had not been seen since Harry's arrival ahead of the Games on Friday, although there was fevered speculation the event would be the first time the couple stepped out together.

Kensington Palace is not commenting on Ms Markle's appearance at the ceremony, which will be viewed by royal watchers as a milestone in their relationship.

Prince Harry during the Opening Ceremony of the 2017 Invictus Games at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Canada. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday September 23, 2017. Photo credit should read: Danny Lawson/PA Wire
Prince Harry during the Opening Ceremony of the 2017 Invictus Games at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Canada. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday September 23, 2017. Photo credit should read: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

The actress, 36, revealed her love for the Prince, 33, in a recent interview with Vanity Fair magazine, prompting speculation the announcement of a royal engagement was merely a formality.

She declared: ''We're two people who are really happy and in love.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko (first row, L) and his wife Maryna Poroshenko, U.S. first lady Melania Trump (second row, L) and Britain's Prince Harry (second row, second from L), attend during the opening ceremony for the Invictus Games in Toronto, Canada, September 23, 2017. REUTERS/Mark Blinch
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko (first row, L) and his wife Maryna Poroshenko, U.S. first lady Melania Trump (second row, L) and Britain's Prince Harry (second row, second from L), attend during the opening ceremony for the Invictus Games in Toronto, Canada, September 23, 2017. REUTERS/Mark Blinch

"I hope what people will understand is that this is our time. This is for us.''

Earlier on Saturday, Harry held separate bilateral meetings with the Mrs Trump and Mr Trudeau.

The first lady is in Canada to support the large American contingent taking part in the Games and sat next to the Prince during the ceremony.

Harry founded the Invictus Games, a paralympic-style competition for wounded, injured and sick former and still-serving servicemen and women, and staged the inaugural event in London in 2014.

The second tournament was held in Orlando, Florida in 2016, and the third in Toronto will see 550 competitors from 17 nations take part in 12 adaptive sports.

During the eight-day Games, Harry will visit training sessions and watch participants competing in all 12 sports, including athletics, cycling and wheelchair basketball.

In his speech during the opening ceremony, Harry, who served as a helicopter pilot in Afghanistan, told how he felt compelled to honour the example set by servicemen and women after a harrowing flight back from Afghanistan.

"The true scale of this example was brought home to me when I left Afghanistan after my first deployment there in 2008," he said.

"As I was waiting to board the plane, the coffin of a Danish soldier was loaded on by his friends.

"Once on the flight, I was confronted with three British soldiers, all in induced comas, with missing limbs, and wrapped in plastic.

"The way I viewed service and sacrifice changed forever.

"And the direction of my life changed with it.

"I knew that it was my responsibility to use the great platform that I have to help the world understand and be inspired by the spirit of those who wear the uniform."

The high-profile closing ceremony on September 30 will feature performances by Bruce Springsteen, Bryan Adams and Kelly Clarkson.

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