Meghan Markle and Prince Harry arrive at Sandringham Church after crowd treated to a shock marriage proposal
PUBLISHED: 11:57 25 December 2017 | UPDATED: 16:06 25 December 2017
Meghan Markle joined the royal family for their traditional Christmas Day service at the Queen’s Sandringham estate after an unexpected marriage proposal warmed the hearts of the waiting crowd.
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.
The Queen arrived in a car and joined the group from the house which also included the Duke of Edinburgh and the Prince of Wales.
Hundreds of well-wishers turned out to catch a glimpse of the royal family, with some calling out “Merry Christmas” as they walked past.
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 attend St Mary Magdalene Church on the Queen’s Sandringham Estate for the Christmas Day service when Mike got on one knee.
Asked by Sky News royal correspondent Rhiannon Mills why it was so important for them to come and see the royals on Christmas morning, Mr Metz got on one knee and said: “I want to spend the rest of my Christmases with you Ashley, so I don’t know if you want to marry me?”
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.”
Mills, who had been tipped off about the proposal, asked how them both how they were feeling, to which Mr Metz said: “I’m feeling great, excited.”
Ashley, who said she was not expecting it, replied: “Good, it’s my grandmother’s ring, it’s very pretty.”
Presenter Kay Burley, in the studio, said: “Unbelievable, fantastic and thank goodness she said ‘yes’.”
Mr Metz said the couple planned to tie the knot in around 18 months’ time and would “absolutely” watch the royal wedding.
Burley ended the item saying: “That’s amazing, and thank goodness she had her nails done as well.”
Miss Millican, from Texas, told the Press Association the proposal came as a complete surprise.
“I had no idea,” she said, adding: “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.
“It was a big surprise.”
She said she did not hesitate to say yes.
It is her first holiday outside America and she said they had a two-week trip planned in which they would visit London.
Mr Metz, of Wisconsin, said he started to plan the proposal in August, asked Miss Millican’s parents in September and was nervous ahead of the day.
“It was pretty tough to keep secret as I was so excited,” he said.
He added: “It’s memories to cherish forever.”
The Queen, who was wearing a flowery dress and an orange coat, arrived with the Duchess of Cornwall by car as Prince Charles and Prince Andrew led the family down from the gates.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle smiled and waved to well wishers as many visiting Americans congratulated them on their engagement.
Prince William was joined by the Duchess of Cambridge who is expecting her third child next year. But their children, Prince George and Princess Charlotte, were not with them.
The crowds lining the road shouted Christmas greetings as they passed by.
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.”