It was the start of a rollercoaster ride for the Royals! We look back at Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s first public appearance together on this day six years ago…

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It was the start of a rollercoaster ride for the Royals! We look back at Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s first public appearance together on this day six years ago…

It's been six years since Meghan Markle and Prince Harry made their first public appearance together at a Wheelchair Tennis match at the 2017&nbs

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It’s been six years since Meghan Markle and Prince Harry made their first public appearance together at a Wheelchair Tennis match at the 2017  Invictus Games in Toronto.

The joint outing in front of the world’s media came after weeks of build-up and would prove to be the effective start of an extraordinary and often turbulent period for the Royal Family.  

The couple arrived hand-in-hand, laughing and smiling with one another, clearly besotted.

It was more than three years later at the Commonwealth Service in March 2020 that Harry and Meghan, by not the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, would make their final front-line appearance, having already announced their decision pursue a new life of personal and financial freedom in north America.

They might have gone – but no one can pretend they’ve been forgotten. 

Here, we look back at September 25, 2017 and how we reported on the occasion…

Prince Harry abandoned royal formality, kissing Meghan on the head  and holding hands as they made their way to their seat at the wheelchair tennis during the Invictus Games in Toronto

Prince Harry abandoned royal formality, kissing Meghan on the head  and holding hands as they made their way to their seat at the wheelchair tennis during the Invictus Games in Toronto

Meghan and Harry put on a display of togetherness, leaning in to talk to each other

Meghan and Harry put on a display of togetherness, leaning in to talk to each other

They both got caught up in the emotion on the court

They both got caught up in the emotion on the court

Harry appears to be giving Meghan the inside track

Harry appears to be giving Meghan the inside track

By Rebecca English and Siofra Brennan 

Hand in hand, Prince Harry proudly brought his girlfriend Meghan Markle to a highly public tennis match today – their first official appearance together as a couple.

And the Suits star, 36, made an intriguing outfit choice, sporting a a £221 (retailing for $185 in the States) white shirt named The Husband, designed by her friend Misha Nonoo whose former spouse went to Eton with William and Harry, along with sunglasses and ripped blue jeans.

Their appearance is the surest sign yet that an engagement is on the cards for the couple, and within hours of the couple stepping out together bookies Ladbrokes suspended betting on an engagement announcement. 

The love birds arrived, fingers entwined, to the Invictus Games semi-final, in full view of members of the public and photographers.

The couple sat at the side of the court together whispering and laughing as well as cheering on the players from Australia and New Zealand in full view of members of the public and photographers.

Meghan looked cool despite the 30 degree heat, sporting shades by Finlay & Co, a range loved by Pippa Middleton and Zara Tindall, while proud as punch Harry was in an Invictus branded shirt and sunglasses too.

And the actress proved that she’s ready to fit seamlessly into the royal fold by practicing her first royal handshake as she greeted children who were seated nearby.

While Meghan attended the Invictus opening ceremony on Saturday, she sat several feet away from her royal beau who was positioned in the VIP area with US First Lady Melania Trump and the couple took care not to be pictured together. 

Meghan seemed happy to shake hands with a young fan at the wheelchair tennis

Meghan seemed happy to shake hands with a young fan at the wheelchair tennis

Harry and Meghan surprise some young supporters at the Invictus games

Harry and Meghan surprise some young supporters at the Invictus games

Harry and Meghan's excitement seemed to be genuine as the game progressed

Harry and Meghan’s excitement seemed to be genuine as the game progressed

Meghan seemed to show no nerves at all, despite knowing that the eyes of the world were upon her

Meghan seemed to show no nerves at all, despite knowing that the eyes of the world were upon her

This afternoon, word that the couple were attending together swept the arena when the prince’s private secretary, Ed Lane Fox, was seen busily preparing two seats and looking agitated.

The couple swept in at 1.55pm local time amid minimal fanfare and took their seats quietly.

Olivia Kornal, 16, from Christchurch New Zealand, gave the couple a New Zealand pin as a gift as she cheered on her stepdad Glenn Barnes.

The teenager said she’d overheard Harry explaining the Invictus tennis rules – which differ to sport’s usual laws – to Meghan as they clapped on the sidelines.

Olivia, a huge Suits fan, said: ‘It was amazing, really amazing. 

‘They were watching the game and cheering on my stepdad.

‘They kept laughing because the contestants know each other so there was banter between them, they were laughing at that.

‘The rules are different to normal tennis as well so they were talking about that. Harry was explaining it to her.

‘They were absolutely lovely, they asked me if I enjoyed the game and who I was cheering on.

‘We knew he was coming, we’d got told about but we didn’t know about Meghan.

‘It was amazing because I’m a huge Suits fan!’

‘I gave them a pin, it was a I Am Kiwi and one of a rugby ball. Harry took them because Meghan had her hands full so he took it for them.’

Joker Harry threw royal formality aside and made sure he kept his actress love amused during their afternoon outing

Joker Harry threw royal formality aside and made sure he kept his actress love amused during their afternoon outing

They appeared completely wrapped up in each other's company

They appeared completely wrapped up in each other’s company

 

Meghan kept it casual , wearing ripped jeans believed to be from J Crew and Sarah Flint 'Stella' flats

Meghan kept it casual , wearing ripped jeans believed to be from J Crew and Sarah Flint ‘Stella’ flats

Today’s outing may have been a big moment for Meghan as she appeared publicly with her royal boyfriend for the first time, but the actress looked completely at ease and gave no hint of nerves.

Gentlemanly Harry was clearly eager to make sure the occasion went smoothly, placing a protective arm on his girlfriend’s back as he guided her to her seat.  

Earlier the royal gave a moving speech in which he lauded servicemen and women as ‘role models for society’. 

Speaking at the Canadian Institute for Military and Veterans Mental Research (CIMVHR) Conference in Toronto, the Queen’s grandson, who himself was in the army for ten years and undertook two tours of duty to Afghanistan, praised the sense of ‘respect, discipline and leadership’ of those who wear a uniform and serve their country.

He said: ‘Now I have long believed that individuals who wear the uniform are role models for society. 

Their families understand the true meaning of teamwork, respect, discipline and leadership. 

‘And in a world where this is often lacking, I bet the values by which service families live their lives and the example they set for others through these [Invictus] Games, is having a profound effect on their communities and far beyond. Wouldn’t it be great if we could prove that too!’

The fifth in line to the throne is currently in Toronto for the third Invictus Games, a Paralympic-style event he founded for injured military personnel in 2014.

 

She's a natural! It was a big moment for Meghan but she showed no hint of nerves as she made her first official appearance alongside her royal boyfriend

She’s a natural! It was a big moment for Meghan but she showed no hint of nerves as she made her first official appearance alongside her royal boyfriend

This year is the biggest event yet with some 550 competitors from 17 nations taking part in 12 adaptive spots, such as swimming, athletics and tennis.

The Invictus Games Toronto 2017 organising committee has funded a research study by Dalhousie University examining the importance of the role of adaptive sport in the rehabilitation of wounded, injured and sick military personnel and their families.

This has involved a comprehensive evaluation of the competitors competing in Toronto.

Harry was attending the opening session of the conference and leaning more about those findings.

In his speech to the conference he said: ‘I am sure it will come as no surprise to anyone in this room that I am hugely passionate about the Invictus Games. 

‘I am passionate about the role which sport can play in the recovery of body and mind. 

‘I am passionate about the men and women of our Armed Forces who have served their countries. And, I am passionate in my support and admiration for the families of those men and women, because they too have served.’ 

Sweet nothings: The pair looked at ease as they put on a loved up display, despite the attention of the world's media 

Sweet nothings: The pair looked at ease as they put on a loved up display, despite the attention of the world’s media 

Something to tell us Meghan? The actress wore a shirt called The Husband designed by her close pal Mish Nonoo whose ex-husband went to Eton with William and Harry

Something to tell us Meghan? The actress wore a shirt called The Husband designed by her close pal Mish Nonoo whose ex-husband went to Eton with William and Harry

Prince Harry speaks at the CIMVHR Conference during the Invictus Games 2017 at the Beanfield Centre

Prince Harry speaks at the CIMVHR Conference during the Invictus Games 2017 at the Beanfield Centre

The prince will later make appearances at a number of the sporting events being held across the city.

His girlfriend Meghan joined Harry for the first time at an official event on Saturday, while he’s reportedly been to visit her on the set of her legal drama Suits. 

But the royal, 33, was flying solo today and looked relaxed in a grey suit jacket, open necked shirt and his trademark navy chinos as he was welcomed to the event.  

Every year CIMVHR invites thought leaders from the armed forces, reservists, military families and veterans organisations to present new research, exchange ideas and share insight.

This year’s event is being held in conjunction with Harry’s Invictus Games, which was first held in London in 2014. 

Among the performers at the opening ceremony at the Air Canada Centre on Saturday were English Soprano Laura Wright, The Tenors and Canadian singer-songwriter Alessia Cara.

Meghan was sat just a few feet away from the Queen’s grandson, who was accompanied by US First Lady Melania Trump. 

The star was escorted by her close friend Markus Anderson, who introduced her to Prince Harry last year. 

Her low key presence marks the first time she has joined the Royal for an official event and will intensify speculation that an engagement announcement is imminent.

Harry, seated a quarter of a stadium away, occupied a VIP box alongside Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, US First Lady Melania Trump and Ukraine’s President Poroshenko.

Harry and Meghan make their last official appearance for the Commonwealth Day Service at Westminster Abbey in March 2020

Harry and Meghan make their last official appearance for the Commonwealth Day Service at Westminster Abbey in March 2020

Because they are not engaged, royal protocol dictates that Harry and Meghan cannot sit next to one another at official events.

The distance – 18 seats and four rows – did nothing to dampen the actress’s excitement or pride. 

She beamed as Harry gave an inspiring and humble speech on stage during which he told the 550 athletes gathered: ‘You are all winners. You are Invictus.’

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