News 24 May 2018
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle plan to launch themselves on the international stage with a major tour to New Zealand, Australia, Fiji and Tonga later this year.
A high-profile trip is being discussed at the highest level and aides are promising that the second half of this year will be "incredibly busy" with official visits, the Daily Mail reports.
The couple have already announced that they are delaying their honeymoon to return to work the week after their nuptials.
It is anticipated that Markle – now the Duchess of Sussex – will join the Queen at the Chelsea Flower Show for the first time and make an appearance at one of her annual garden parties in the coming weeks.
The royals will also undertake a couple of short overseas visits before the start of the summer, including a two-day visit to Dublin.
Prince Harry, 33, is yet to visit Ireland but Markle, 36, spent time in the country as an ambassador for the One Young World summit in 2014.
But the couple plan to really showcase their work as a new royal "power couple" later in the year, starting with a visit to Australia, where Harry's inspirational Invictus Games for injured servicemen and women is being held in Sydney this October.
They will then travel onto New Zealand - a country the prince loves and where Markle has travelled before as a backpacker - followed by Fiji and Tonga.
Their visits to New Zealand and Australia are particularly important. Harry's father Prince Charles was recently nominated as the next head of the Commonwealth, and it is hoped that Harry and Meghan will boost the popularity of the royals in the Southern Hemisphere.
The prince has also wanted to visit both Fiji and Tonga. He met with the Fijian Prime Minister during March's Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London.
A spokesman for the couple said recently of their plans: "They are already planning for all the work that's happening in the second half of the year which is going to be incredibly busy."
The only major barrier to the October trip will be if the couple, who have made no secret of their desire to start a family, find themselves expecting.
Not only is long distance travel exceptionally gruelling in the early stages of pregnancy but Zika is an issue in the region and pregnant women are advised not to travel there.
The Mail also understands that in recent months Markle has been schooled in royal etiquette and traditions by royal household and diplomatic staff.
This includes how to greet dignitaries – and expect to be greeted – once she becomes a member of the royal family, how to behave on royal engagements and the intricacies of palace life.
"She is a very intelligent, elegant woman with enormous life experience, who has conducted herself impeccably. But there are a lot of pitfalls in public life, particularly as a member of the royal family, and she has been learning about what we call 'the traditions'."
Source: NZ Herald