All eyes on Prince Harry’s relationship

All eyes on Prince Harry’s relationship

Attention intensifies around Prince Harry and Meghan Markle at Invictus Games

The appearance of Prince Harry’s girlfriend over the weekend at the opening ceremonies of the Invictus Games in Toronto continues to be scrutinized by royal watchers, who have commented on everything from how far they sat from each other to where the American actress purchased her outfit.

“This is just part of the fabric of modern-day living for the Royal Family,” says Damian Radcliffe, a British media researcher who teaches journalism at the University of Oregon.

“There’s always been a huge amount of column inches about nothing much in particular. It’s just that now we have a great proliferation of media outlets willing to talk about that, which is why there’s so much coverage of this on both sides of the Atlantic.”

Meghan Markle, who films the hit legal drama “Suits” in Toronto, cheered on the athletes from around the world Saturday while Harry, who founded the Games in 2014, sat a few rows away next to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. first lady Melania Trump.

By Sunday morning, tabloids such as the Daily Mail were reporting how different Markle’s burgundy dress and leather jacket was from the demure outfit Kate Middleton — now the Duchess of Cambridge — wore at her first public outing with Harry’s brother and second in line to the throne, Prince William.

Prince Harry opens The Invictus Games in Toronto

‘Invictus is about the dedication of men and women who serve their countries, confronted hardship, and refuse to be defined by their injuries.’

Watch Prince Harry’s speech at the Invictus Games Toronto 2017 opening ceremony here:

Posted by The Royal Family on Sunday, September 24, 2017

Since this year’s Invictus Games are taking place where Markle lives and shoots “Suits,” there has been intense speculation about if and when the couple will make a public appearance together. They have publicly acknowledged their relationship but have not been seen together, except for long-lens photos taken without their knowledge and from a great distance.

“Everyone is expecting Meghan Markle and Prince Harry to appear together at some point this week,” says Chris Ship, Royal Editor for ITV News in the U.K. “The common-held view among the British royal press is that there will be an official outing, their first outing as a couple, as it were.”

Ship says it’s likely the two didn’t sit together at the opening ceremonies because it might have distracted from the Games themselves. In attending the same event but doing so separately, he says the couple is taking ”baby steps.”

“She appears at the Invictus Games opening ceremonies because she knows how much the Games mean to her boyfriend, and yet they didn’t want to sit her next to him because they knew that would overshadow the opening ceremonies,” he says. ”So the choreography has actually been very clever.”

Competition is high among freelance and tabloid photographers, for whom the first photos of the couple would be very profitable.

“I don’t doubt that there are probably paparazzi photographers in and around Toronto hanging out in hedges, trying to find Harry and Meghan Markle out together in the evening, because they know that there’s a lot of money if they could capture that picture and they could sell it around the world,” Ship says.

He says he’s made an effort to keep the focus of his coverage on the inspiring stories of athletes competing at the Invictus Games.

“There is a balance to be struck between public interest in Harry and Meghan’s romance, set against (the fact that) he does have the right to a private life, and he shouldn’t have cameras hanging out of bushes and trees in order to get a picture of him,” Ship says.

Related: Engaging people with disabilities in sport key to better health, says UBCO prof

Radcliffe agrees.

“It’s kind of a non-story,” he says. ”The story is arguably more the Games, rather than how far they sat away from one another, and what she was wearing.”

Royal historian Carolyn Harris, author of “Raising Royalty: A Thousand Years of Royal Parenting,” says there are several reasons for the intense interest in Markle and Prince Harry’s relationship at this moment.

Interest in the Royal Family spiked at the beginning of September when Kensington Palace officials announced that Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, and Prince William are expecting their third child, she says. The 20th anniversary of Princess Diana’s death has also led to many retrospectives about her legacy, and about her sons.

Harris says the modernity of Harry and Markle’s relationship is another factor that makes them interesting to the public.

“When we look at previous generations in the Royal Family, often the courtship was comparatively short before an engagement,” she says. ”Charles and Diana, for instance, spent very little time together before becoming engaged. But in William and Harry’s generation, that has changed.”

The fact that they have publicly acknowledged their relationship is also ”unusual in many ways,” Harris says. In November, Harry issued a statement condemning media harassment of Markle, who he identified as his girlfriend, and earlier this month she spoke to Vanity Fair about their relationship.

“It’s interesting, over the course of the Queen’s reign, there’s been changing views in terms of who are suitable spouses for royalty,” Harris says. When Queen Victoria’s eldest son was preparing to marry, his choices were quite limited: his wife had to be royal, and she had to be a Protestant.

“It was determined there were about seven eligible women he could marry,” Harris says.

Related: Princes William and Harry speak candidly about Diana’s death

“Now, with members of the Royal Family going to university and having the opportunity to have some degree of a private life and dating before getting married, we’re seeing a much wider pool of potential spouses for royalty.”

Radcliffe says the intense interest in royal relationships is nothing new — it’s just the way audiences consume that news that has changed.

“This is just the start of a whole new media circus for this couple, in this iteration of how the lives of the Royal Family play out in the social media age,” he says. “We’re going to see a lot more of this, I’m sure.”

Maija Kappler, The Canadian Press

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Ally Thomas, 12, seen in an undated family handout photo, died on April 14 from a suspected overdose. Her family says they are frustrated more public supports weren't available when they tried to get her help. THE CANADIAN PRESS
Minister says suspected overdose death of 12-year-old pushes B.C. government to ‘do better’

Minister Sheila Malcolmson of Mental Health and Addictions says the government is working ‘as hard as we can’ to build a system of care for youths

Work is progressing on the new student housing building at the University of Victoria. The building will be home to 398 students when complete in September 2022. (Photo courtesy of UVic)
VIDEO: Mass timber installation begins at UVic student housing project

Green technology plays key role in building that will be home to 398 University of Victoria students

Sharon McNeill (right) was among the first batch of residents to pick up free seeds and seedlings from Ali Rivers, Central Saanich’s climate action specialist, during Thursday’s Seed Giveaway. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Central Saanich plants seeds in the fight against climate change

Seed Giveaway promotes environmental stewardship

Protesters attempt to stop clear-cutting of old-growth trees in Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew. (Will O’Connell photo)
VIDEO: Workers, activists clash at site of Vancouver Island logging operation

Forest license holders asking for independent investigation into incident

Amazon is pausing its Prime Day marketing event in Canada this year amid ongoing COVID-19 outbreaks at its facilities in Ontario. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Amazon Prime Day halted in Canada due to COVID-19 outbreaks in warehouses

The postponement of the event was put in place to protect the health and safety of employees and customers, the company says

At this Highway 3 check point, police officers will be asking for identification from drivers, documentation regarding the driver’s name and address, and the purpose for the driver’s travel. (RCMP)
No fines handed out at 1st COVID-19 roadblock as checks move across B.C.

Cpl. Chris Manseau says a total of 127 vehicles were stopped at a roadblock in the Manning Park area

A spectator looks on as the Olympic Caldron is relit in downtown Vancouver, Wednesday, February 12, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Small majority of B.C. residents in favour of a Vancouver 2030 Olympic bid: survey

A new survey shows a split over the possibility of public money being spent to organize and host the winter games

Jasmine Francoeur from Comox is an aviation technician for the Snowbirds air demonstration team. Photo by Canadian Forces/submitted
Island woman’s career comes full circle as she flies home with the Snowbirds

Jasmine Francoeur: “To fly out here, fly into my hometown, it’s very special and I feel very lucky”

Junior A team Coquitlam Express is offering all Tri-City residents who get vaccinated against COVID-19 a free ticket to one of their games. (Facebook/Coquitlam Express)
B.C. hockey team offering free tickets to hometown fans who get the COVID-19 vaccine

‘We know the only way to get fans back is people getting vaccinated,’ says Express’ general manager Tali Campbell

Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon speaks in the B.C. legislature, describing work underway to make a small business and tourism aid package less restrictive, Dec. 10, 2020. (Hansard TV)
B.C.’s latest COVID-19 restrictions cost thousands of service jobs

Part-time workers set back again by spike in virus spread

A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Leaked report shows detailed B.C. COVID-19 data not being released to public

Documents obtained by the Vancouver Sun show cases broken down by neighbourhoods

Most Read