Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have visited Edinburgh yesterday, where Harry nearly got bitten by a Regimental mascot at the castle, and they visited a homeless charity and met young leaders at Holyroodhouse.
At the announcement of their engagement, Meghan expressed a wish to visit as much of the UK as possible. Following their recent visit to Cardiff, the couple yesterday visited Edinburgh, ticking off a third British contingent country.
The first port of call for the soon-to-be-weds was the imposing Edinburgh Castle, that dominates the city skyline.
Greeting them at the castle was the Band of the Royal Marines and mascot of the regiment, Cruachan; Prince Harry had just been appointed Captain General of the Royal Marines, taking over from his grandfather, The Duke of Edinburgh, who stepped down from official duties last year.
Before the gun firing, Harry and his fiance were introduced to Cruachan IV, the Shetland pony mascot of The Royal Regiment of Scotland, by Pony Major Mark Wilkinson.
Cruachan famously took a nibble from a posy when meeting The Queen last year, and obviously felt that Harry should have a similar treat for him as he tried to nibble his fingers, looking for what goodies the Royal might have brought him.
Pony Major Wilkinson 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.”
Ms Markle, who was appropriately dressed in a coat of Black Watch tartan, chatted happily to some of the hundreds of onlookers who had gathered to welcome the couple to the Scottish capital.
Demonstrating that she is quickly adopting traditional British themes, Meghan told one member of the crowd: “Being I’m in the UK, all I talk about is the weather now.”
Asked by another about arrangements for her hen do, she replied: “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.”
The former actress also contributed to a great British debate – the pronunciation of the word 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).”
Meanwhile, Harry got into conversation with nine-year-old Oliver Clews from Northampton. Harry asked the youngster if he had made his journey to Edinburgh by train and if he liked trains. When Oliver conformed that he did, Harry told him: “Get on a sleeper train, if you like trains, they’re very very good.”
During their brief visit to the castle, Harry and Meghan witnessed the firing of the One O’Clock Gun, a centuries-old tradition that enables locals and ships in port to set their clocks and watches to the correct time each day.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle then moved onto visit Social Bite, a network of cafes set up to help the homeless.
Well-used to receiving high profile visitors, the charity has previously welcomed Leonardo DiCaprio, The Duchess of Cornwall and George Clooney.
The charity distributes 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.
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.”
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 points raised by the couple have even greater resonance due to the controversy from calls for beggars in Windsor to be “moved on” from the city for the royal wedding.
Moving into the kitchen, Ms Markle spoke about her own experience volunteering in a soup kitchen when she was 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 left, 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”, before joking: “Everyone apologises for the weather! It’s not that bad. I was in Toronto for six years.”
The couple’s final visit of the day took them to the Great Gallery in the Palace of Holyroodhouse, where they met 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 raised above the official Scottish royal residence. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon also joined the event.
Harry and Meghan’s next official visit has yet to be announced, but it is expected to be in Northern Ireland as they continue to cover all corners of Britain.