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Hugs and handshakes with public keep Meghan Markle’s bodyguards on their toes

The American and Prince Harry were on an away day to Birmingham.

Tactile Meghan Markle is becoming known for dishing out warm embraces to those she meets.

But the future royal’s at-ease nature is likely to be keeping her royalty protection team on their toes.

Meghan Markle meets members of the public on a walkabout in Birmingham (Victoria Jones/PA)

In Birmingham, American Ms Markle happily got up close and personal with those she encountered, giving hugs and reaching into the crowd to shake hands.

Walkabouts are the Windsors’ closest interaction with the general public, when scores of people wait in the open air to catch a glimpse of the visiting royal.

The Queen introduced the idea of the haphazard but happy meetings with people in the crowds in the early years of her reign – and has always refused to drop them despite security worries.

The Queen receives flowers during a walkabout after a church service at St Peter and St Paul West Newton in Norfolk (Gareth Fuller/PA)

But while the Queen will collect flowers, she has never been a hugger like Ms Markle.

Ms Markle was watched by her alert and serious-looking bodyguards as she carried out official duties with Prince Harry.

Meghan and Harry chatting to the crowd (Victoria Jones/PA)

In 2001, the Prince of Wales was slapped around the face with a flower during a walkabout in Latvia.

Schoolgirl Alina Lebedeva, a member of the extremist Russian nationalist National Bolshevik movement, hit Charles with a red carnation in protest at the war in Afghanistan as the prince met the crowds in Riga.

The Prince of Wales is slapped around the face with a flower by a war protester in Latvia (John Stillwell/PA)

The Princess Royal has in the past shrugged off the risks of attack, saying the royal family must live with the danger.

Anne, who survived an armed kidnap attempt in 1974, told Woman’s Hour on Radio 4 in 1994: “I think it is a permanent possibility, I am afraid. We just have to live with it.

“Just travelling around has its own risks, but then so does getting out of bed. So, life’s too short, really …”

When Ms Markle marries Harry, she will be entitled to her own personal protection officer from the Metropolitan Police’s Royalty and Specialist Protection unit, paid for by the taxpayer.

Harry has grown accustomed to the intrusion since childhood, but Ms Markle will have to adjust to a lifetime of being accompanied by a bodyguard.

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