Monday 19 February 2018

Watch: Meghan Markle laughs as Shetland pony bites Prince Harry on Edinburgh trip

Helena Horton and Hannah Furness

She has successfully won over the corgis. But the mischievous military mascot Corporal Cruachan IV proved too much for even Meghan Markle, who yesterday made her first visit to Scotland to be greeted by the Shetland pony.

Cruachan, who famously nibbled a posy being held by the Queen last year, greeted Ms Markle in fine Royal Regiment of Scotland fashion, with a curious sniff and a matching coat.

While the former actress sensibly admired the feisty Shetland from afar, Prince Harry gave him a pat and was rewarded with an attempted nip.

The couple began their Scottish outing at Edinburgh Castle, where they were greeted by crowds armed with flags, flowers and toys.

Ms Markle, who wore a tartan coat by Burberry in Black Watch colours, showed she has already settled in to British life by chatting about the weather, discussing her hen do and entering the debate over the pronunciation of “scone”.

The day of engagements included a trip to cafe Social Bite and meeting young leaders at the Palace of Holyroodhouse, for the next stage of Ms Markle’s promised tour of the UK.

The former actress is currently undergoing to process to become a British citizen, following her wedding to Prince Harry on May 19th.

Meeting one local, she joked: “Being I’m in the UK, all I talk about is the weather now.”

She also appears to have settled in to British doing traditions: asked about her hen do, she told one well wisher is is “sorted”.

“We asked them what they were doing for their stag and hen dos,” said Tom Martin, 30, who was waiting in the crowd. “Meghan said ‘I'm not sure — it’s sorted but it will be fun.’ Harry said he didn’t know.

“I’m sure William’s got something up his sleeve.”

Ms Markle also, no doubt unintentionally entered into a classic British debate, over the pronunciation of scone.

Carolyn Chisholm, from Airdrie, gave her some heart-shaped potato scones from the bakery she runs with her husband, explaining: “I just thought for Valentine’s the scones were a wee gift of Scottishness.”

Lynda Clark, her mother, added: “She gave them to her aide, saying they were scones,” pronouncing the word to rhyme with “gone”.

“The correct pronunciation is ‘Scone’ [to rhyme with bone].”

Moving to their formal duties at the castle, Pony Major Mark Wilkinson introduced Ms Markle and Prince Harry to Cruachan IV who has his own Twitter account and seemed intent on nibbling Prince Harry's fingers in the hope of a treat.

He said: "They were asking about him, saying he's a wee star, he knows he's on parade and is showing off - they said it was lovely to meet him."

Inside the castle at the historic Edinburgh Garrison, which looks out across the city, the Prince and Ms Markle accepted ear defenders for the firing of the  One O'Clock  Gun.

As the formalities were completed, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’ whirlwind introduction to Scotland moved them to Social Bite, a network of cafes set up to help the homeless. They distribute 100,000 items of food and drink to homeless people in Scotland each year, with one in four staff members having their own experience of homelessness, with previous high profile visitors including Leonardo DiCaprio, the Duchess of Cornwall and George Clooney.

As co-founders Josh Littlejohn and Alice Thompson told the couple about their “Housing First” policy, which sees homeless people given a house as the foundation to tackle other problems such as addiction, unemployment and mental health issues, Prince Harry asked: “When are you bringing it down south?

“When you've proved it really works, it needs to be across the UK as soon as possible."

“It’s about dignity,” Ms Markle said. “We’re all humanity. When you come into a space like this, and you can have a choice about what you eat, it’s important.”

The conversation has particular resonance following calls for beggars in Windsor to be “moved on” from the city for the royal wedding.

Prince Harry said: “Everyone can be so focused on the wrong things, looking at your phone or work. But look up, lift your head up and look around you.

“Walk around your city, see how many people are on the streets and do something to help them.”

The couple then moved to the kitchen, where Ms Markle spoke about her own experience volunteering in a soup kitchen as a teenager.

Telling the group their work looked like fun, shop manager Mimi Guery joked she was welcome to have a job there as long as she played good music in the kitchen.

“I can vouch for that,” said Prince Harry. “She does have good tunes.”

As they made their exit, the couple were introduced to major supporters of the social enterprise.

“It means a lot to both of us to be here,” said Ms Markle. “It’s my first time in Scotland.”

As the group apologised for the weather, she joked: “Everyone apologises for the weather! It’s not that bad. I was in Toronto for six years.”

The couple’s final visit took them to the Great Gallery in the Palace of Holyroodhouse, to meet 50 young people aged eight to 26 from the Scottish Government’s Year of Young People 2018.

It was the first official public event inside a palace for Ms Markle with Prince Harry’s Royal Standard was raised up the flag pole above.

Kensington Palace have not yet announced the next joint trip for the couple. It is widely expected to be a day of engagements in Northern Ireland.

Telegraph.co.uk

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