One of the drawbacks of taking a child to meet a royal is that they won’t care about protocol. And, indeed, one little mite named Walter Cullen made headlines when he grabbed Meghan Markle’s hair during an official visit to Ireland’s Croke Park. Here’s how the Duchess of Sussex and new husband Prince Harry responded to the inadvertent invasion of privacy.
Born in London in 1984 to Prince Charles and Princess Diana, Prince Harry trained as an officer at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst before serving as a Blues and Royals cornet and touring in Afghanistan with the Army Air Corps. In 2014 he founded the Invictus Games, and as of 2018 he is sixth in line to the British throne.
Meanwhile, Meghan Markle was born in Los Angeles in 1981 and first began to make her name as an actress while a student at Northwestern University. Her big break came in 2011, however, when she began starring as Rachel Zane in the popular legal series Suits. The self-professed feminist has also campaigned for various social issues and charities, and she even launched her own apparel line in 2016.
And as many know, Meghan was married before she met Harry. The actress and producer/actor Trevor Engelson walked down the aisle together at a Jamaica ceremony in 2011. Then, after the pair divorced in 2013, Meghan dated renowned chef Cory Vitiello for close to two years. Her life would change forever, though, after a friend set her up on a blind date in 2016.
Why? Well, the man Meghan met was none other than the man then fifth in line to be the head of the Royal Family. Harry had had his own dating history before that point, though, having reportedly entered into a relationship with wealthy businessman’s daughter Chelsy Davy during his twenties. He also romanced heiress Cressida Bonas for two years before encountering his future wife.
Meghan and Harry’s subsequent relationship became public towards the end of 2016. But the news wasn’t well received by all, and so Harry was subsequently forced to issue a statement in response to the harassment and abuse his new girlfriend had received. Then Meghan professed her love for the prince to the media in September 2017, shortly before they made their official debut as a couple at the Toronto Invictus Games.
And in November 2017 the couple confirmed their engagement to the press; the ring that Harry gave to his bride-to-be featured a pair of diamonds he had inherited from Princess Diana. Meghan subsequently announced that she would be giving up her acting career and instead focusing on her duties as a royal.
Finally, after a baptism from the Archbishop of Canterbury and a Church of England confirmation, Meghan married Harry at a televised ceremony at Windsor Castle’s St. George’s Chapel in 2018. As a result, she was given the official royal title of the Duchess of Sussex. The pair then enjoyed a honeymoon at an undisclosed location.
And just days after getting married, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex helped recognize Prince Charles’ charity work at his 70th birthday party. Two months later, moreover, Meghan enjoyed her first official international trip as a royal when she toured Dublin with her husband; unsurprisingly, her visit was the subject of huge interest.
On that trip to the Emerald Isle, Meghan and Harry visited Dublin’s Croke Park. Headquarters of the Gaelic Athletic Association, the stadium was viewed in all of its glory by the newlyweds. Their tour also included a walk onto the pitch, where they were greeted by several children.
However, one young boy seemed more fascinated by the sight of Meghan than anyone else. Indeed, three-year-old Walter Cullen seemingly couldn’t contain his excitement at meeting a royal. And when the duchess briefly turned around, the toddler tried to gain her attention again by grabbing her hair.
Harry quickly leapt to his wife’s defense, though – albeit in a joking manner – with the royal comically shaking his finger at the youngster to express his mock disapproval. Walter then made the whole scenario even more charming when he covered his mouth in shock.
Meanwhile, Chris Jackson, a royal photographer for Getty Images who had been assigned to cover the Croke Park visit, snapped a shot of the cheeky munchkin. Jackson was at first preparing to take a group shot before he spotted Walter being held by his father. And he was more than impressed with the manner in which Meghan dealt with the touchy-feely fan.
“I loved the sweet way [Meghan] interacted with the little boy,” Jackson told Town & Country magazine. He then added, “It’s those lovely unexpected moments that demonstrate how natural these two are on royal engagements and why they generate such a buzz wherever they visit.” Jackson also explained how the pair had taken time to speak to as many members of the Irish public as they could.
And Walter wasn’t the only one at Croke Park who expressed little regard for royal protocol. Dylan Mahon, a four-year-old from County Meath, snatched at Harry’s beard after the duke leaned in to greet him. But once again, the royals’ response was both amusing and priceless.
Indeed, Meghan had to conceal her mouth to hide her laughs. Meanwhile, Harry told the tactile boy, “You might have a beard soon – you never know.” The duke famously became the first royal to marry with a beard in 125 years, although he did require permission from his grandmother, the Queen, first.
And the cute photo opportunities during the royals’ Irish trip didn’t end there. On the same day, the pair visited Michael Higgins, the country’s president, and his spouse Sabina at their official home. There, Harry and Meghan were welcomed by the Higgins’ adorable Bernese Mountain dogs Bród and Sioda.
What’s more, the canines barely left the royals’ sides as they toured the Higgins’ home. The dogs even demanded some extra petting from the couple as the duke and duchess prepared to say their goodbyes. Harry had previously revealed that the Queen’s famous corgis had been similarly enamored with Meghan when they first met her.
Along with their memorable visits to Croke Park and the President’s home, Harry and Meghan were also given a considerable honor: they were both asked to ring the Peace Bell to commemorate two decades of the Belfast Agreement. The arrangement is widely regarded as one of the Northern Ireland peace process’ most notable developments.
And shortly before their Irish visit, news emerged that Harry and Meghan would be traveling much further afield for their next international jaunt. Indeed, the newlyweds will head Down Under for a tour of Tonga, Fiji, New Zealand and Australia in 2018. The trip coincides with the Invictus Games, which will be in the city of Sydney for that year.