Prince Harry’s fledgling relationship with actress Meghan Markle has been the subject of plenty of tabloid rumours, but an innocent joke about his possible upcoming nuptials has left the royal red-faced and annoyed.
The 32-year-old is currently in the Caribbean for a 14-day tour of the region, attending a welcome reception in Antigua on Tuesday night, where Prime Minister Gaston Browne teased him about his budding romance.
In front of a crowd of media and guests, Mr Browne joked the Prince and his 35-year-old girlfriend should consider the Caribbean as a honeymoon destination.
“I understand there may be a new addition to the Royal family very soon?” he said.
“I am told that there may be a princess, and I just want to say that should you make the decision to honeymoon, then Antigua and Barbuda want to welcome you.”
Prince Harry, who looked downcast and embarrassed, remained silent.
“[Antigua] has been voted consistently as the best honeymoon destination in the Caribbean, and I have to announce, one of the best in the world, so there will be no other place in the Caribbean for sure that is better to spend your upcoming honeymoon whenever that day arrives,” Mr Browne said.
According to the BBC, Mr Browne went on to joke “whatever is done here, stays here” to Harry, before introducing him to a group of beauty queens.
Watch the awkward moment
— The Today Show (@TheTodayShow) November 22, 2016
The Prince has been fiercely protective of his American girlfriend’s privacy since early rumours about their relationship made Markle the target of online backlash and racist and sexist slurs.
Earlier this month, Kensington Palace released a letter, written on Prince Harry’s behalf, expressing concern for Markle’s safety and requesting the press respect her privacy.
The letter said Prince Harry “knows that it is unusual to issue a statement like this, but hopes that fair-minded people will understand why he has felt it necessary to speak publicly”.
Markle, best known for her role on television show Suits, also recently penned an article for Elle magazine talking about her struggle to reconcile her celebrity persona with her humanitarian work.
“I’ve never wanted to be a lady who lunches; I’ve always wanted to be a woman who works,” she wrote.
‘With fame comes opportunity, but it also includes responsibility – to advocate and share, to focus less on glass slippers and more on pushing through glass ceilings.”