Prince Harry and his royal -bride-to-be, American Meghan Markle, touched down in Wales Thursday to be greeted by enchanted crowds — some with U.S. flags — in the latest stop on the "Meet Meghan" prewedding tour of Britain.
With an iconic castle as a backdrop, the couple's visit to Cardiff is their third public appearance since they announced their engagement in November and their second of the new year, four months before the May 19 wedding at Windsor Castle.
As an American, Markle, 36, is a stranger in most of the United Kingdom, and she is still getting to know her new country as well. Thus, the current campaign to visit key areas of Britain to introduce her to a curious nation.
She's also getting on-the-job training in how to be royal during a public engagement, no easy lesson for a non-royal Brit, let alone an American. So far, the crowds have been adoring.
Even before they arrived, some in the crowd waiting behind rope lines held up a large American flag for Markle, the first Yankee to be welcomed into the British royal family.
Markle is an unprecedented royal bride, as the first actress (Suits), biracial and divorced American to marry someone high up in the line of succession (Harry, 33, will be sixth after the third child for brother Prince William and Duchess Kate is born in April.)
The couple has already visited Nottingham and the multi-ethnic Brixton district of London but Wales is especially important given that Markle's fiancé is Prince Harry of Wales and the second son of Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales. A visit to Scotland and possibly even Northern Ireland might be expected before the wedding.
Cardiff is the capital and largest city in Wales; they're spending a day there to showcase the culture and heritage of Wales, and to learn more about community social organizations in the country, according to Kensington Palace.
The couple started out at visiting a Welsh Culture festival at Cardiff Castle, the Gothic Revival gem with a history dating back 2,000 years. During their tour, they heard performances from musicians and poets, met leading sports figures and saw how cultural groups are working to promote Welsh cultural identity, including its notoriously difficult language.
First, they plunged into a walkabout, greeting a crowd of well-wishers, many of them children, many waving Welsh flags. Two children, Harry Smith and Megan Taylor, from a local primary school, presented them with a wedding gift in a red box, a traditional Celtic love spoon, according to Kensington Palace.
Markle, whose style choices are of keen interest, wore a long black Stella McCartney coat cinched at the waist with a wide ribbon-style belt, plus tall black boots. She also carried a mini-saddlebag-shaped purse in forest green by the British brand Demellier, according to the blogs that track her fashion.
As during the Brixton visit, her hair was pulled back in a low bun with escaped tendrils of hair framing her face. Harry was dressed casually in a black overcoat with a bright blue sweater over a white shirt.
One sure sign of Markle's growing popularity: The London Zoo announced Thursday that a newborn okapi has been named Meghan in honor of Harry's fiancée and to call more attention to the endangered species.
The cute critters, native to the Democratic Republic of Congo, are related to giraffes but have striped hindquarters like zebras so they're called either a forest giraffe or zebra giraffe.