LONDON — Prince Harry and his fiancee, Meghan Markle, were greeted by hundreds of ecstatic fans on Tuesday as they made their first public appearance of the new year at a community radio station in the south London neighborhood of Brixton.
The couple met staff from Reprezent FM, which provides young people with training in media skills and was set up in 2011 in response to rising knife crime in London.
Brixton is a heavily multiethnic area, and many of those who braved the chilly temperatures in hopes of catching a glimpse of Harry and Markle talked about how they represent a modernization of the royal family.
“Times are changing,” said Daniel Solomon, 31, who runs a health and wellness shop in Brixton. “She’s mixed-race. Obviously, that doesn’t happen often in the royal family. It’s a good thing. That marriage supersedes the concept of royalty.”
When the couple arrived in Brixton, Markle seemed surprised and delighted by the crowd's enthusiasm.
The two spent about an hour inside the radio station, which is run by people under the age of 25. In a recent interview he conducted with President Barack Obama, Harry and the president talked about their shared passion for inspiring young people.
Shane Carey, the head of Reprezent, told the BBC that the royal visit had shone a “spotlight” on the organization, which has had more than 4,000 young people through its broadcasting-skills training program.
Inside, the couple appeared to enjoy themselves. According to the Press Association, a British wire agency, Harry was asked a question about Obama, which he jokingly tried to deflect by saying his bride-to-be was the one who “answers the questions.”
There was a large security presence outside the radio station, which is housed in colorful shipping containers in a space called Pop Brixton.
When Harry, 33, and Markle, 36, left the station, they were met by a wall of noise and a sea of camera flashes. Holding hands, they walked over to the metal security barriers and greeted people in the crowd.
“My word, she has taken to this like a duck to water,” said a BBC news anchor, referring to Markle's ease with the crowds.
Locals in nearby shops also popped out to see what the fuss was about.
Harry is “such a happy-go-lucky guy,” said Claudette Jaggon, 58, who was sipping tea in the doorway of her clothing shop. “They are so well-suited. Well, we will never know what they are really like, but they look so suited to one another.”
Shortly after the visit, Markle’s social media accounts were deleted. She was once an active user of Twitter and Instagram -- albeit not lately -- but she appears to have followed in the footsteps of senior members of the royal family in not having her own private accounts.
A palace official said: “Ms Markle is grateful to everyone who has followed her social media accounts over the years. However, as she has not used these accounts for some time, she has taken the decision to close them.”
The Brixton outing marked the couple's second official royal visit together. Shortly after their engagement in November, they visited charities in Nottingham on World Aids Day.
During their engagement interview, Markle said that she was eager to get “boots on the ground” and go out and meet as many Britons as possible.