Crowds gather to see Harry and Meghan ahead of Birmingham visit

Fans of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were out in force in Birmingham ahead of the couple's arrival in the city centre.

Well-wishers began gathering hours before the prince and his bride-to-be were due to appear at Millennium Point, home to a range of tech-related organisations from Thinktank, Birmingham Science Museum to faculties of Birmingham City University.

Despite the cold and wet conditions some in the crowds were eagerly awaiting the arrival of the couple who have been touring the nation since their engagement announcement last year.

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The highly anticipated visit comes as a report claims Ms Markle has been baptised and confirmed in the Church of England at a private ceremony led by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Stephen McNally, 61, from Stourbridge, said he travelled with a group of friends with many of them carrying bouquets for Ms Markle.

Commenting on Harry's engagement to the American actress he said: "I think he's been allowed to do, really, what he wants. He is old enough now and nobody can tell him what to do - not at his age - and I just hope they will be happy.

"It will be different for her but I think they've learnt a lot from the past and that is why Meghan is doing these walkabouts and going round the country before she's getting married, I think it's really nice, rather than keeping things a secret like they used to do.

"We hope to be going to Windsor for the wedding, on the streets or in the castle precinct."

Harry and Ms Markle's trip to the Midlands falls on International Women's Day and at Millennium Point they will join female secondary school students taking part in a range of activities from speed networking opportunities with local businesses to a panel discussion.

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The visit to Birmingham will begin with the now familiar walkabout before Harry and Ms Markle chat to young women as they take part in building apps and touchpads, before hearing more about their motivations to pursue science, technology, engineering and maths (Stem) subjects.

Retired teacher Josie Weeks, 62, from Leeds, got up at 5am to travel to Birmingham for the royal visit and carried a posy of white blooms for Ms Markle.

She said: "I met the couple in Nottingham and just wanted to see them again and take some photographs. I think Harry's really coming into himself now with his charity work - he's stepped it up in the last few years.

"The main thing is if he's happy with Meghan, that's all you want for him."