It’s not always easy being a redhead: you may turn out to be the butt of a joke or two, for example. And, as it turns out, you’re not immune to gentle ribbing of this nature even if you’re fifth in line to the British throne. A brave heckler proved as much when, in December 2017, he asked a rather impertinent question of Prince Harry. Luckily, though, the royal took the inquiry in good humor and even had a snappy answer all ready to go.
And that run-in took place when the prince was in the British city of Nottingham with new fiancée Meghan Markle. The couple’s engagement had been announced just a few days prior to their trip together, in fact. However, a few eyebrows may have been raised at the news – not least because the American is a divorcée.
Indeed, divorce has proved somewhat of a thorny issue for the British royal family. For instance, from the 16th century onwards, the British king or queen has also been the Supreme Governor of the Church of England – an institution that frowns on the dissolution of marriage. Then there’s also the matter of the abdication crisis of 1936, which was brought about because King Edward VIII wished to marry divorced American Wallis Simpson. In the end, the monarch chose to relinquish the throne in order to wed Simpson instead.
Meghan Markle’s identity as a biracial woman was also the subject of some media scrutiny, not least because she would become the first non-white person to marry into the British royal family for a long time. “When Meghan weds Harry, Britain’s relationship with race will change for ever,” read the title of an article on a U.K. newspaper’s website, published on the same day that the engagement was announced.
Markle’s ethnicity was even brought up in the official BBC engagement interview. There, the actress was asked what she had thought when the media had started focusing on her skin color. “It’s a shame that that is the climate in this world,” Markle answered. “But I think, you know, at the end of the day, I’m really just proud of who I am and where I come from.”
And, in addition, Markle was cast in some quarters as being lucky to have landed a prince. One piece, published in the Financial Times in 2017, even used the term “fairy tale” to describe the star’s romance. This was despite the fact that she is hardly a Cinderella figure, going from rags to riches; Markle actually comes from a middle-class Hollywood family and had attended private schools while young.
What’s more, the idea that Harry, by contrast, thought himself to be lucky to be engaged to Markle was one that was markedly less considered in the press. However, when the prince journeyed to Nottingham with his new wife-to-be and chatted to the people there, it became clear that he did indeed feel this way.
The royal and his fiancée chose Nottingham for their first official appearance as an engaged couple because it is a place near and dear to Harry’s heart. “Prince Harry has spent a significant amount of private and public time in the city and is looking forward to introducing Ms. Markle to a community that is very special to him,” a spokesperson for the pair said at the time.
And while in the British city, Harry and Meghan visited the National Justice Museum, the Nottingham Academy and the Terrence Higgins Trust World AIDS Day charity fair – HIV awareness being a cause that was championed by Harry’s late mother Diana, of course. The Princess of Wales would, then, surely have been proud if she’d been alive to see her son with his future bride that day. As the couple walked around, huge crowds lined the streets to catch a glimpse of them.
However, one person in the throng decided to tease the prince just a little bit. Specifically, as Harry got close to him, the man – also a redhead – asked the prince, “How does it feel being a ginger with Meghan?” And, as it happens, Harry’s response was caught on camera.
“It’s great, isn’t it?” Harry replied, apparently unfazed by the personal question. “Unbelievable,” the man in the crowd said. “Unbelievable!” Harry responded, laughing. And that remark may well have left listeners with no doubt as to how Harry was feeling about being engaged to Markle.
Markle herself didn’t hear the question, however, as she was on the far side of the road meeting other well-wishers. But had she been there, she may well have stated her appreciation for Harry’s famously red hair. After all, the couple seem to completely adore each other – as their responses during their official engagement interview suggest.
Indeed, Harry certainly gushed over his bride-to-be when talking to the BBC on the day of the engagement announcement. “The fact that I fell in love with Meghan so incredibly quickly was sort of confirmation to me that all the stars were aligned. Everything was just perfect,” the prince remarked. “It was this beautiful woman just sort of literally tripped and fell into my life, [and] I fell into her life,” he added.
And their relationship did actually move fairly swiftly. The two first encountered each other in summer 2016, when a mutual friend organized a blind date for the pair. And Harry and Meghan hit it off; in October 2016, in fact, it was revealed that they were now a fully-fledged item. Then, barely a year after news of the new couple had come to light, they announced their intention to marry.
Meanwhile, Harry’s locks have long been commented on. Sometimes, it’s in a more benign manner. In 2014, for example, he was named the hottest red-haired man on the planet in a survey carried out by charity the British Heart Foundation. On the other hand, a rumor has long persisted that the color of Harry’s hair is “proof” that he is not a legitimate member of the British royal family. Princess Diana, it’s been suggested in some circles, actually had an affair with a redheaded man.
Indeed, conspiracy theorists claim that Harry’s real father is not Prince Charles but rather Diana’s one-time lover James Hewitt. That’s principally down to the fact that Hewitt, a one-time British Army cavalry officer, is also a redhead. Hewitt, however, vehemently denies that he’s the prince’s dad. He only had a relationship with Diana, he has always maintained, after Harry had been born.
Furthermore, it’s been pointed out that while it is true that Harry doesn’t look much like either his mother or his father, he does somewhat resemble his maternal uncle. And Diana’s brother Charles Spencer also had red hair, as did her older sisters; so it’s possible that Harry inherited that trait from his mom.
Reportedly, though, Prince Charles wasn’t taken at first with the shade of his newborn son’s locks. And according to Andrew Morton’s 1992 book Diana: Her True Story, Charles was even disappointed about his child’s gender. Apparently, the Prince of Wales’ first words upon seeing Harry were “Oh God, it’s a boy,”; and then, he remarked, “And he’s even got red hair.”
Even Prince William, Harry’s brother, is prone to occasionally ribbing his younger sibling about his hair colour. In 2009, for instance, when both royals were speaking to reporters at RAF Shawbury, William joked that Harry is “a ginger… but a good-looking ginger, so that’s alright.”
As for the man who asked Harry that bold question in Nottingham? Well, he later talked to the Daily Mail about the incident and gave his name as Niall Reason. “There always has been and always will be a joking mentality towards ginger hair,” he explained to the newspaper. He added, though, “I myself am a proud ginger.” And if Harry himself wasn’t proud before, he certainly should be now. After all, he’s netted a gorgeous, accomplished wife-to-be.