Prince Harry has spent the last week in Canada staying with his new girlfriend Meghan Markle as news of their relationship went around the world, it has emerged.
The 32-year-old Prince arrived in Toronto last Friday, unaware that news of their unlikely pairing was about to break.
He has remained in Canada, reportedly staying in Miss Markle’s house, as the 35-year-old actress has come under intense scrutiny, including criticism of her character by her own half-sister.
The Prince had hoped to keep the relationship a secret for as long as possible to allow Miss Markle time to prepare for the level of interest she would inevitably generate.
And while he is said to be disappointed that the news leaked, he is at least on hand to give his girlfriend the benefit of his considerable experience when it comes to handling such attention.
The Prince, who is said to be desperate to make the relationship with Miss Markle work, could stay in Canada until next week, as he has no official engagements until this year’s Remembrance ceremonies begin.
The magazine Us Weekly reported that the Prince arrived at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport on a commercial flight on October 28, with just one police protection officer accompanying him.
A car was waiting for them at the airport to take the Prince to Miss Markle’s home near the centre of the city where she has lived since landing a starring role in the US legal drama Suits, which is filmed there.
The couple have largely remained indoors, cooking together and playing with Miss Markle’s two dogs, Bogart and Guy, the magazine reports.
Until now, it has been divorcee Miss Markle who has done the travelling, spending time in London in July, September and October and being introduced to the Prince of Wales, confirming earlier reports that Prince Harry regards the relationship as “serious”. She has visited Kensington Palace, Prince Harry’s home, on several occasions.
Miss Markle has also been introduced to Prince Harry’s cousin Princess Eugenie, though suggestions that she has met the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are understood to be wide of the mark.
The Prince began seeing Miss Markle in June after meeting her through mutual friends and sending her text messages asking for a date.
She is understood to have been in two minds at first, as she had split from her previous boyfriend of two years, celebrity chef Cory Vitiello, only the previous month.
But by August the romance had developed to the extent that the Prince told his staff about Miss Markle so they would not be wrong-footed if word got out.
Miss Markle married the film producer Trevor Engelson in 2011, but they divorced in 2013, citing irreconcilable differences. Divorce papers published online show that she waived her right to any financial support from her ex-husband.
Her half sister Samantha Grant, 51, who shares the same father, has accused the actress of failing to support her family when her divorced parents separately filed for bankruptcy in recent years. She suggested Miss Markle was driven by “social climbing”.
Neither Miss Markle nor her representatives have made any comment since she was linked with the Prince.
However she conducted a round of interviews last week to promote a range of clothing she has helped design for a Canadian clothing store. She made no reference to the Prince, but described herself as “the luckiest girl in the world”.
During the Prince’s stay, Miss Markle has posted teasingly cryptic daily photographs on the social media site Instagram, including a photograph of two bananas “cuddling” with the message “sleep tight”.
Yesterday she posted a picture of a cup of tea and a jigsaw puzzle, perhaps suggesting how she and the Prince are whiling away their time.