'Get that effing picture': Photogs jockey for glimpse of Prince Harry, Meghan Markle at Invictus

His Invictus Games just started, but Prince Harry has been popping up all over Toronto, and with each stop, anticipation builds: Will his girlfriend, Meghan Markle, show up, too?

'I'm not sure when it's going to happen, but we're all here waiting for it to happen'

Many photographers take pictures from behind a gate.
Press photographers turn their cameras on Meghan Markle as she joins Prince Harry for a walkabout on the esplanade at Edinburgh Castle in February 2018. Before the two announced their engagement in November 2017, photographers were in fierce competition to get the first image of the couple together out in public. (James Glossop/Reuters/Pool)

Since this story was published, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle made their first official public appearance together as a couple at an Invictus event at Toronto's City Hall. Many photos were captured.

Rupert Thorpe's editors had some terse words for him before he left for Prince Harry's Invictus Games in Toronto: "Get that effing picture."

That picture — the money shot, as Thorpe calls it — is the first one of the prince and his Toronto-based girlfriend, Meghan Markle, side by side, in their first official public outing as a couple. The games, started by Harry in 2014, are an Olympic-style event for wounded soldiers.

"I'm not sure when it's going to happen, but we're all here waiting for it to happen at some point," said Thorpe, a British photographer for the Daily Mail on Sunday tabloid. "I just hope we're not past deadline."

There's a lot at stake: if Thorpe doesn't get the photo, he might not get his expenses covered.

Grainy, long-lens pictures of the pair do exist. And the couple came close Saturday night at the Invictus opening ceremonies, sitting in two different sections of the Air Canada Centre, not far apart. But there's no straight-on, high-quality picture of the two.

'They're very careful'

Thorpe figures the photo would sell to magazines for somewhere between $60,000 and $123,000, double that if it was an exclusive, which he'd love.

Some speculated Markle, an American actress who stars in the TV series Suits, which is filmed in Toronto, would come to the opening ceremony, which she did — but not with Harry. Others thought she might show up in the stands at one of the Invictus events, so as not to overshadow the athletes.

"They're very careful," Thorpe said. "They sort of sneak in the back of the hotel. You're not going to see them together I don't think in the hotel bar enjoying a bloody mary."

Cathy Brazier, a video journalist covering the games for British Forces TV, said she is happy for Harry and thinks Markle will show up with him in public when she's ready.

"I think she'll turn up at some point, but she might want to do it when a lot of the press have gone home," Brazier said.

There's speculation Prince Harry could make his first official public appearance with his girlfriend, Toronto-based American actress Meghan Markle, during the Invictus Games. (Chris Jackson/Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

In a break from royal tradition, Markle detailed the romance in the latest issue of Vanity Fair, telling the magazine the pair are "really happy and in love." Rumours about a potential royal engagement have been rampant.

Toronto-based royal historian Carolyn Harris said the engagement could happen soon, particularly if there's a public appearance together.

"Because they've spoken so openly about their relationship, there's already a great speculation," said Harris, a history teacher at the University of Toronto's School of Continuing Studies. "When Prince Harry was in Antigua, for instance, the prime minister joked that Antigua is a great place for a honeymoon."

Prince Harry has appeared alongside a few notable names during his trip to Toronto so far, including Melania Trump, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and outgoing Gov. Gen. David Johnston and wife, Sharon. But he has not been seen with his girlfriend... yet. (Chris Jackson/Getty Images for the Invictus Games Foundation)

Harris said photographers and the public are hungry for the "spontaneous moments" in Harry and Markle's life.

"The public will be very interested if there are spontaneous moments like the couple being seen out in a restaurant or walking Meghan's dogs or otherwise just enjoying their time in Toronto."

Harry the Gorilla?

Meanwhie, in Markle's neighbourhood, the buzz about the relationship has died down. Her neighbours have been living with it since the pair started dating about a year ago. 

Paparazzi have staked out her place before, but residents don't want to talk about it, and some don't even know the actress lives there.

Markle, looking up, applauds as Prince Harry addresses the crowd at the opening ceremony for the Invictus Games in Toronto on Saturday. Markle sat in a different section of the stands from Harry at the event. (Mark Blinch/Reuters)

There is gossip, though. Janny Nguyen hears all about it from the neighbourhood women when she's waxing their eyebrows at a nearby salon.

"They've seen paparazzi just outside the house. Last year, I think Harry was in town for Halloween, and he was actually handing out candy in a gorilla costume or something like that," Nguyen said. "I don't think I'm obsessed or anything. I think Harry's kind of cute."

Nguyen has yet to spot Markle in person, let alone the prince. But with Harry in town, she's keeping her eyes peeled.

"She's definitely been to the Starbucks, the Loblaws," she said. "I wish I could snag her as a client."

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Haydn Watters is a roving reporter in Ontario, mostly serving the province's local CBC Radio shows. He has worked for the CBC in Halifax, Yellowknife, Ottawa and Toronto, with stints at the politics bureau and entertainment unit. He ran an experimental one-person pop-up bureau for the CBC in Barrie, Ont. You can get in touch at haydn.watters@cbc.ca.