Prince Harry and bride-to-be Meghan Markle began their public life together with a whirlwind of handshakes and smiles as the crowd chanted their names during their first walkabout.

Hundreds of well-wishers had gathered in Nottingham to greet the couple and were not disappointed as the prince and his fiancee appeared determined to meet almost everyone on their first joint engagement.

In scenes reminiscent of the early days of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's married life, a sea of camera phones greeted their arrival along with chants of "Harry, Harry" and "Meghan, Meghan".

The American former actress appeared to take the outpouring of affection and interest from the well-wishers in her stride, looking confident as she greeted the crowds with a smile and handshake.

Harry chose Nottingham, a city and its people who are close to his heart, as the place to introduce his bride-to-be to the UK.

During the walkabout, which lasted just over 20 minutes, Ms Markle was wrapped up against the cold in a long dark blue coat by Mackage, and boots, and was handed armfuls of flowers, chocolates and other gifts.

She was without gloves, so her engagement ring was on display, and carried a handbag - something Kate rarely does.

Megan posed for photographs when she arrived with Harry. Credit: PA

Avid fan Irene Hardman, who is well-known for handing bags of Haribo sweets to Harry, and first presented his father, the Prince of Wales, with two bags - the other for brother William - 20 years ago, was a familiar face in the crowd.

The 81-year-old handed Ms Markle a goody bag containing fridge magnets and other gifts.

She said afterwards that the meeting was "very emotional".

Through tears of joy, she said: "I cried - she's wonderful, and it's fantastic. They're so genuine."

The prince and his fiancee appeared eager to meet the public with Harry at one point asking someone "can I shake your hand?".

The couple are on their first official engagement. Credit: PA

He then smiled when a well-wisher shouted, from three or four rows back behind a crash barrier: "How does it feel being a ginger with Meghan?"The former Army officer replied with a grin "It's great, isn't it?", when the man said the word "unbelievable?", Harry responded "unbelievable".

As the walkabout progressed a woman asked the former actress how she felt about being in Nottingham and she replied: "I'm so happy, it's real good to be here".

One of the stranger sights during the meet-and-greet with the public was well-wisher Frank Shelton who had brought his barn owl Kim to meet the couple.

At points during the walkabout, Ms Markle put a reassuring hand on Harry's back and early on she was given a bunch of cream coloured flowers.

Crowds outside the Nottingham Contemporary Arts Centre. Credit: PA

The couple also visited a World Aids Day fair organised by the Terrence Higgins Trust at the Nottingham Contemporary, with both wearing red ribbons to show their solidarity.

Chris O'Hanlon, who is a peer mentor for Positively UK, a charity which helps people newly diagnosed with HIV, talked to the couple about his own diagnosis and the importance of fitness in dealing with illness.

Dr Laura Waters a Terrence Higgins trustee praised the pair for helping to tackle the stigma attached to HIV/Aids.

"What they're doing today and coming and supporting an event like this and HIV testing is really helping address stigma," she said.

"Stigma is still an issue, and what they've done today will really help address that even further, so they're admirable."

During the event the prince and Ms Markle were also shown a UK Aids Memorial Quilt, one of 48 nationally whose different patchwork panels have been made by friends and lovers to pay tribute to those lost to HIV/Aids.

The appearance by the former Suits actress dazzled Amdani Juma, the project coordinator for the organisation Champions For Change.

He said: "She is beautiful. Only a prince can have a lady like that!"

The pair look at a UK Aids Memorial Quilt. Credit: PA

The couple also visited Nottingham Academy, a local school, to meet headteachers taking part in the Full Effect programme which aims to provide early intervention and training to children and young people in the St Ann's area of the city to stop them becoming involved in youth crime and violence.

Harry and Ms Markle chatted with mentor Chantelle Stefanovic, 30, who recently spoke about the issues facing children and young people in St Ann's at the inaugural summit of the Obama Foundation in Chicago attended by the 33-year-old prince.

She was presented with a framed picture of herself, Prince Harry and Barack Obama, taken at the summit, by the couple.

Ms Stefanovic said: "Meeting Meghan today was absolutely wonderful, the girls really took to her and their support is just fantastic for us.''