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As many go ga-ga over royal engagement, China asks: Harry who?

By AFP   November 30, 2017 | 12:15 am PT
The vast majority of Chinese are better acquainted with Harry Potter than Prince Harry.

Prince Harry's marriage to U.S. actress Meghan Markle next May promises to be the wedding of the year and this week's engagement news made headlines around the world -- but not in China.

The vast majority of Chinese are better acquainted with Harry Potter than Prince Harry and news of his engagement made barely a ripple in the country.

AFP hit the streets of Shanghai -- China's most cosmopolitan city -- armed with a color photograph of the happy couple to ask people if they recognized Harry or Markle, who played a lawyer in the hit U.S. television show "Suits".

Of 10 passersby, just three were able to recognize one of the most famous men alive and none could name his fiancée.

"President, right? President and his wife?" asked Hu Jie, the boss of a jewellery shop, two white dogs peeping out of her handbag, one at each end.

Two people thought the photo depicted the AFP reporter.

"Congratulations, congratulations, congratulations," said software salesman Fang Cheng, going to shake the reporter's hand, before his error was pointed out.

Another said he only knew one member of the British royal family -- named David Beckham.

But it was not all bad news for the glamour couple.

"Oh, I know. Should be Prince Harry. He is engaged," chimed in Gu Jinjun, a hotel manager, and her school teacher friend Huang Ye.

"She is an American actress. I don't know her name, sorry.

"They look quite matched, look at their smiles."

State media was a bit more enthused and the Xinhua news agency's English service published nine paragraphs after the news broke on Monday that the 33-year-old prince and Markle, 36, had become engaged.

The same day -- as much of the western world went potty for the couple -- Xinhua published an article that was three times longer on Chinese President Xi Jinping's calls to improve the country's toilets.

Harry's brother Prince William is slightly better known -- but mostly because of his wife Kate and his receding hairline.

Indeed, online there was some debate as to whether Harry would go the same way as his balding brother and father, Prince Charles.

"Is losing hair a tradition of the royal family?" asked one user on China's Twitter-like Weibo.

"Bless them, just a bit worried about the prince's hairline," fretted another.

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