'Is this actually happening?': Prince Harry and Meghan Markle help Victoria couple struggling with selfie stick
VICTORIA -- A young Victoria couple out for a New Year's Day picnic and a hike were treated to the surprise of a lifetime yesterday.
Iliya Pavlovic and Asymina Kantorowicz had just finished eating in Vancouver Island's Horth Hill Regional Park on Wednesday afternoon when they started taking photos of themselves with their selfie stick among the natural scenery.
"We noticed a group was standing nearby and they had two dogs, one of which was approaching us," said Kantorowicz, who happens to be a producer for CTV News Vancouver Island.
They were checking the pictures they had just taken when a woman from the group approached them.
"She starts asking if we want her to take a photo for us," Kantorowicz said. "We said sure. I didn't see who she was at that time."
Kantorowicz did recognize another member of the group as Abigail Spencer, an actress from the television show Suits.
"I thought she looked familiar, but didn't think it could actually be her," Kantorowicz added.
The realization sparked a chain reaction and it soon dawned on Kantorowicz that the woman who was asking to take their photo was none other than Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex and fellow Suits actress.
"I froze up. I actually couldn’t believe who it was. Then I looked over to the side and that’s when I realized Prince Harry was standing there," Kantorowicz said. "I kept looking back and forth like, 'Is this actually happening?'"
Pavlovic and Kantorowicz graciously accepted the royal's offer to photograph the pair.
"In that moment the only thing I could think to say, 'There's only so much that selfie sticks can do,'" Kantorowicz said. "She laughed and responded with something like, 'We'll have to do better,' and then Harry said, 'No pressure.'"
Markle took three photos of the star-struck couple before the royals left with the black dog and a beagle.
"She handed the phone back and said, 'Happy New Year!' and we said, 'Thanks and happy New Year!" the Victoria woman said. "Then we kind of turned to each other laughed and said, 'Did that just happen?' I still can't believe it. It feels like a dream."
The Victoria woman says Markle was "super friendly" during the encounter and she appreciates that the royal took the time to stop to help them out. "We didn't want to make a big deal of it. We hope they're enjoying their family trip to the island."
It wasn't the first time the royal couple was spotted hiking at Horth Hill over the holidays.
Since before Christmas, Vancouver Island residents have reported encounters with the duke and duchess on the trails in the area.
"The park seems much busier since that news item came out," said resident Steve Kumpf, walking the park in the rain on Thursday.
"It's a nice spot that we have here and them coming here just reinforces that for everyone living on the island."
"I'd love to meet them," said fellow park-goer Donna Jean, adding that a friend of hers bumped into the royals in the area nearly two weeks ago. "I think they're lovely," she added.
"We really appreciated that she stopped to take a photo for us. We would not have recognized them had they not approached us," Kantorowicz said. "I was in shock and I didn’t want to make it a big deal. But then we both called our moms to tell them."