Rupert Thorpe’s editors had some terse words for him before he left for the Invictus Games in Toronto, Prince Harry’s Olympic-style event for wounded soilders: “Get that f-ing picture.”
That picture — the money shot as Thorpe calls it — is the first one of the prince and his Toronto-based girlfriend Meghan Markle side by side, in their first fully public outing as a couple.
“I’m not sure when it’s going to happen, but we’re all here waiting for it to happen at some point,” said Thorpe, a British photographer for the Mail on Sunday. “I just hope we’re not past deadline.”
There’s a lot at stake: if Thorpe doesn’t get the photo, he might not get his expenses paid.
Grainy, long-lens pictures of the pair do exist. And the couple came close Saturday night at the Invictus opening ceremonies, sitting in two different sections of the Air Canada Centre, not far apart. But there’s no straight-on, high-quality picture of the two.
‘They’re very careful’
Thorpe figures the photo would sell to magazines for somewhere between $60,000 and $123,000, double that if it was an exclusive, which he’d love.
Some speculated Markle would come to the opening ceremony, which she did — but not with Harry. Others thought she might show up in the stands at one of the Invictus events, so as not to overshadow the athletes.
“They’re very careful. They sort of sneak in the back of the hotel. You’re not going to see them together I don’t think in the hotel bar enjoying a bloody mary,” Thorpe said.
Cathy Brazier, a video journalist covering the Games for British Forces TV, is happy for Harry, and said Markle will show up with him on her own pace.
“I think she’ll turn up at some point but she might want to do it when a lot of the press have gone home.”
Rumours about a potential royal engagement have been rampant.
And Toronto-based royal historian Carolyn Harris said that could happen soon, particularly if there’s a public appearance together.
“Because they’ve spoken so openly about their relationship, there’s already a great speculation,” said Harris, a history teacher at the University of Toronto’s school of continuing studies. “When Prince Harry was in Antigua for instance, the Prime Minister joked that Antigua is a great place for a honeymoon.”
Harris said photographers and the public alike are hungry for the “spontaneous moments” in Harry’s and Markle’s life.
“The public will be very interested if there are spontaneous moments like the couple being seen out in a restaurant or walking Meghan’s dogs or otherwise just enjoying their time in Toronto.”
Harry the Gorilla?
All this buzz has died down in Markle’s neighbourhood. They’ve been living with it for about a year now, since the pair started dating. Markle detailed that romance in the latest issue of Vanity Fair.
Paparazzi have staked out her place before but neighbours don’t want talk about it. And many others don’t even know she lives there.
There is gossip, though. Janny Nguyen hears all about it from the neighbourhood women when she’s waxing their brows at a nearby salon.
“They’ve seen paparazzi just outside the house. Last year, I think Harry was in town for Halloween and he was actually handing out candy in a gorilla costume or something like that,” she said. “I don’t think I’m obsessed or anything. I think Harry’s kind of cute.”
Nguyen has yet to spot Markle in person, let alone the Prince. But with Harry in town, she’s keeping her eyes peeled.
“She’s definitely been to the Starbucks, the Loblaws,” she said. “I wish I could snag her as a client.”