Curtsying Meghan delights crowds as she joins Queen and Royal Family at Sandringham
- Credit: PA
Meghan Markle shared the limelight with another American bride-to-be yesterday as an unexpected marriage proposal thrilled crowds waiting to see the royal family before the traditional Christmas Day service at the Queen's Sandringham estate.
Prince Harry's fiancee Ms Markle was very much the centre of attention as she arrived at the church, accompanied by her future husband and a host of other royals.
Earlier, one of the 200-strong crowd of wellwishers received an unexpected Christmas surprise as her boyfriend proposed to her live on Sky News while they waited.
American couple Mike Metz and Ashley Millican, both aged 20 and visiting their UK-based relative from Wisconsin, were waiting to see the Queen, Prince Harry and his fiancee when Mr Metz got on one knee.
He said: 'I want to spend the rest of my Christmases with you Ashley, so I don't know if you want to marry me?'
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Putting her hand to her mouth and fighting back tears, she replied: 'Yes. Oh my God.'
Taking the ring from the little white box and weeping, she said: 'Yes, yes, yes.'
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Miss Millican, from Texas, said the proposal came as a complete surprise. 'I was definitely very surprised. I never thought he would ask me right before we were about to see the royal family for the first time.
After the service, Ms Markle demonstrated she had mastered the art of the curtsy before joining Prince Harry to speak to delighted well-wishers after the service.
Earlier, she walked arm-in-arm with the Prince as they made the short journey from Sandringham House to the church with other royals, including the 96-year-old Duke of Edinburgh.
Wearing a light brown coat and brown hat, boots and bag, Ms Markle walked arm-in-arm with fiance Prince Harry as they made the short journey from Sandringham House to St Mary Magdalene Church.
She seemed at ease as they smiled and chatted as they walked alongside William and Kate, who is pregnant with her third child.
She seemed at ease, smiling and chatting as they walked alongside William and Kate, who is pregnant with her third child.
The Queen, who was too unwell to attend last year's service after being struck down with a cold, arrived separately with the Duchess of Cornwall in a Royal Bentley and joined the group from the house, which also included the Prince of Wales.
Hundreds of well-wishers turned out to catch a glimpse of the royal family, with some arriving in the middle of the night to ensure a good view.
As they emerged from the church after the service, Ms Markle and the Duchess of Cambridge both curtsied to the Queen as the monarch chose return to Sandringham House by car as well.
Then both Ms Markle and Harry, and William and Kate stopped to chat to some of the well-wishers.
Among them was Judith Wallis, who was itting in a wheelchair and is staying at the neighbouring Park House Hotel on her first Christmas Day visit to Sandringham.
She said Harry recognised her teddy bear called Maureen, which is a mascot for Armed Forces charity SSAFA, and her hat, which bore the Gurkha regiment emblem. She said Ms Markle spoke to them too.
'She said lots of things,' said Ms Wallis, who is in her 70s and from Chesterfield. 'She was very, very lovely.'
Tess Gilder, manager of Park House, which describes itself as a unique hotel for disabled people, was with Ms Wallis.
She said of Ms Markle: 'She was just so natural, so lovely.'
Ms Markle was wearing a long, wide-collared camel wrap coat with a brown hat and brown knee-length suede boots. The coat, by luxury Canadian brand Sentaler, is made from baby alpaca wool and sells for £986 on the company's website.
She was clutching a brown leather Chloe pixie bag, which sells for £1,400.
The bag looked new but it was not known if it was a Christmas gift.
Back at Sandringham House, the royal family traditionally enjoy Sandringham-reared turkey before settling down to watch TV, including the Queen's Christmas message, which this year included a reference to welcoming new members into the royal family in 2018.Those waiting to see the royal family arrive at church included:
? Phil Longwell 46, from Wells: 'This is the first time that I have actually come to Sandringham on Christmas. I've never actually seen the Queen and living locally I thought I would treat myself to it and I got up early, did all the vegetables and came out. I have been waiting out here since 7.30am but I didn't have to come far.'
? Fawn Peralta, 35, Washington state, USAF Lakenheath: 'We have just come to wish all the royal family a merry Christmas. I'd love to wish Harry congratulations on the engagement and I'm really hoping to see little George and Charlotte.
'It will be amazing to see Kate's little bump and wish them well.'
? Ron Hatfield, 62, from Ohio: 'We are over here visiting my son who is in the US airforce. We have come from Lakenheath. I have never seen a president so to see the royal family will be something else.'