After more than a year of dating, Prince Harry and his girlfriend Meghan Markle finally went public with their romance at the weekend, when Meghan joined the Prince for the Invictus Games opening ceremony in Toronto. Just two days later, the couple enjoyed a second outing together, this time arriving hand-in-hand for the wheelchair tennis. Their very public displays of affection have led royal watchers to believe that an engagement announcement is imminent – and also recalled the early days of another high-profile royal romance, between Harry's big brother Prince William and his wife Kate.
Despite the obvious comparisons that can be made between the two relationships, Kate, 35, and Meghan, 36, have taken different approaches to their early public outings with their Princes. One of Kate's first low-key public dates with William took place in February 2007, when the fledgling couple joined Prince Harry at Twickenham to watch an RBS Six Nations match between England and Italy. It was one of the first opportunities to see William and Kate interacting as a couple, and it was clear even then that they were very much in love. Both appeared relaxed in the informal environment, cheering for the home nation together, and giggling and whispering together as they watched the action on the pitch.
Another early outing came the following month, in March 2007, when Kate joined William for the first day of the annual Cheltenham Race Festival. A decidedly more high-profile event in comparison to the rugby, Kate was appropriately dressed in a demure tweed skirt suit which she teamed with a blue shirt and brown knee-high boots.
Meghan, meanwhile, took a very relaxed approach to her wardrobe when it came to her first two outings with Harry. For her appearance at the opening ceremony on Saturday night, she opted for a plum-coloured maxi dress which she teamed with an edgy matching leather jacket, worn around her shoulders. And on Monday's outing, the Suits actress proved herself to be the master of casual-chic dressing, stepping out with Harry in a classic white button-down shirt, named 'The Husband Shirt', from designer and close friend Misha Nonoo, which she teamed with distressed Mother Denim Jeans and red Sarah Flint flats.
It should be noted that Kate and Meghan's respective relationships dictate different expectations and protocols. As the wife to the secon-in-line to the throne, Kate will one day be queen, and as such will need to adhere to stricter guidelines when it comes to her public appearances. Meghan, meanwhile, will face far less scrutiny; Harry will be bumped down to sixth-in-line to the throne when William and Kate welcome their third child next year, and therefore both he and Meghan have much more freedom to carve out their own path.
Of course, should Harry propose to Meghan, the couple will be expected to make more public appearances together - just as Kate did following William's proposal. In February 2011, three months after their engagement was announced, William and Kate undertook their first official engagement as a couple, with the future Duchess cracking a bottle of champagne over a new RNLI lifeboat at Trearddur Bay in Anglesey. A palace spokesperson confirmed that the couple had asked for their first joint engagement to be on the island, where they were renting a home. For her moment in the spotlight, Kate opted for a cream tailored coat with brown velvet trim, and wore her hair swept up into a pony tail, fastened with a black feathered fascinator.