Two years ago, he spoke wistfully of hoping to find someone to sit next to him and share the pressure of royal life. On Monday, Prince Harry’s dream came true, as he was joined by girlfriend Meghan Markle for a picture perfect first official appearance side-by-side.
Prince Harry and Ms Markle held hands as they made their debut on the world stage, making an affectionate appearance at the Invictus Games.
In a remarkably low-key event, meticulously planned by Prince Harry’s team, they joined the families of Australian and New Zealand wheelchair tennis players to watch the semi-final from the sidelines.
Spending time with the wives and children of tennis players, the US actress chatted happily with everyone around her, accepting small gifts from her new admirers. The relaxed couple sat side by side, leaning their heads closely together to talk between points and laughing at private jokes.
Ms Markle wore a loose white blouse by Misha Nonoo, named - perhaps fittingly - the "Husband shirt", paired with jeans with a rip in the knee and camel-coloured £370 Sarah Flint pumps, with an oversized handbag.
The Prince guided her towards her seat with a hand on her back, and appeared to talk her through the rules of wheelchair tennis, pointing around the court and explaining the differences from the tennis she is more used to watching.
Observers noted their casual affection, holding hands and standing speaking to those around them as a couple.
Others praised the actress’s natural approach to her first informal public appearance with the Prince, as she charmed members of the public with ease. The couple were not shy of physical contact, and as they left the court, Ms Markle absentmindedly stroked the Prince's arm.
If she had any nerves about the big moment, the actress did not show it and was nevertheless in the safe hands of her boyfriend. When they were handed a bottle of water each in front of the cameras, eagle-eyed observers described how Ms Markle followed the Prince's lead in placing it on the floor, avoiding a potentially awkward photograph of her mid-gulp.
It is the culmination of a carefully-planned campaign to welcome Ms Markle into the royal fold, in a gradual introduction centred around the Invictus Games.
After more than a year of fighting for their privacy, in a period Ms Markle has described as "our time", she broke her silence earlier this month with an extensive Vanity Fair interview in which she proclaimed: "We're two people who are really happy and in love."
By the time the Invictus Games came around, she was widely expected to make an appearance at his side.
While Kensington Palace has remained emphatically tight-lipped about plans for the week, the actress made her first public appearance at the opening ceremony, sitting apart from the Prince.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle make first public appearance, in pictures
After showing her support for his passionate opening address on the stage, she was watched over by Royal protection officers and slipped away discreetly before the end of the night.
Her appearance at the tennis was unexpected by most, and remained unpublicised until she arrived. As several hundred people turned up to the outdoor tennis court in downtown Toronto, they may have hoped to catch a glimpse of Prince Harry.
Instead, suspicions were raised after Prince Harry’s private secretary was spotted making arrangements on site in person. Shortly before 2pm, onlookers were heard to gasp as Prince Harry emerged from the side of court, hand in hand with his girlfriend.
They spent half an hour together in public, before they retreated for the Prince to fulfil a promised BBC interview about Invictus.
A Royal source said of the appearance: "It was a calm, fun atmosphere for the competitors and their families which is the most important thing."
The appearance will naturally confirm speculation that the relationship is heading in one direction: an engagement announcement in the weeks to come.
Ms Markle is expected to attend further events in Toronto, her home town, fit in between her filming commitments at legal drama Suits.
The pair's unmistakable happiness will thrill the Prince's admirers, after a candid interview in 2015 in which he admitted: "It would be great to have someone else next to me to share the pressure, but you know, time will come and whatever happens, happens."
Kylie Lawler, whose husband Sean played for the Australian team, said she too had learned they would be joined by the Prince just half an hour before the couple appeared on court, sending her son to change his shirt so he would look smart in front of the world’s cameras.
She said: “She was excited to be here and lovely. They seemed really relaxed as a couple.” Asked about her memories of the game, which New Zealand won, she said: “I missed half the game because we were chitting-chatting. I don’t think my husband will forgive me.”
Prince Harry later attended a power lifting event without Ms Markle.
Timeline Prince Harry and Meghan Markle