It’s been a busy year for Prince Harry. In May millions of people around the world watched him become the Duke of Sussex as he married Meghan Markle at Windsor Castle.
A few months later in October the couple announced they are expecting their first baby and just days later they flew to the other side of the world for a 16-day tour Down Under.
But it’s not just Harry who’s been busy. The prince’s hectic schedule has made for a jam-packed 2018 for his lookalike, Rhys Whittock, too.
Rhys, 35, is almost exactly the same height as the Duke of Sussex, 34, and nearly the same age, as well as sporting the same head of red hair.
Spitting image: Rhys Whittock, 35, is pictured with one of his Meghan lookalikes Olivia Marsden posing up for the same pictures Prince Harry and Meghan Markle did at Kensington Palace on the news of their engagement in November 2017
The Welsh property developer is pictured in a replica Prince Harry groom outfit with his second Meghan lookalike Inmaculada Santisteban outside Buckingham Palace as part of the Best Harry and Meghan Lookalike in Europe competition 2018
The Royal McCoy! The new Duke and Duchess of Sussex are pictured riding through Windsor after their wedding at St George’s Chapel on May 19 this year
Friends, family and strangers have been pointing out his royal resemblance for years, but it wasn’t until Harry-and-Meghan-mania swept the country with news of their engagement in November last year that he started to take them seriously.
In just a few months the Welshman went from a quiet life as a property developer in the sleepy Kent village of Greenhithe to travelling the world as a fully-fledged Prince Harry lookalike.
He told MailOnline: ‘Since March, I’ve been on the side of a London bus, flown to Hong Kong to play Harry at a millionaire businessman’s birthday party and been on live TV. It’s surreal.
‘I never used to think much of it when people would stare at me at weddings and tell me I looked like Prince Harry.
‘Most lookalikes don’t see the resemblance between them and the person they’re impersonating.
‘But the more photo shoots I do and the more pictures I look at, sometimes I have to ask myself, is it me or is it him?’
Strutting their stuff: Harry lookalike Rhys and Meghan impersonator Olivia are pictured walking through the streets of London (left) with Harry and Meghan pictured as they leave their wedding party at Frogmore House in Windsor (right)
In character: Rhys, who lives in Kent, is pictured with his second Meghan lookalike Inma, who lives near Seville, Spain, outside Kensington Palace on her recent visit to the UK. The pair met through a European lookalike competition
While there’s only one Meghan for Harry, Rhys has worked with as many as six in his new part-time job as a Harry doppelganger.
He is signed up with six agencies in the UK, as well as ones in the USA, Germany, Belgium and Holland, which have sent him on jobs the length and breadth of Britain and overseas.
Rhys says it all started seven years ago, explaining: ‘From around 2011 people have been coming up to me in the street telling me I look like Prince Harry. My family and friends have always said it a lot as well.
‘So I decided to get in contact with a few agencies for lookalikes – but I didn’t get any response, so I thought that was the end of that.’
‘That was around the time Harry was in the Army so I think they wanted him to keep a low profile, which meant there was no demand for lookalike work.
Au natural: The lookalikes are pictured outside Kensington Palace without their Harry and Meghan outfits in casual clothes
This is Rhys’s third Meghan lookalike, Sarah Mhlanga, who he appeared with on ITV’s Loose Women in the run up to the wedding earlier this year
The Dupe and Duchess of Sussex! Rhys is pictured with Meghan impersonator Sarah in Windsor on the day of the Royal wedding (left). Harry and Meghan are pictured on November 27 at Kensington Palace for their engagement (right)
‘But in November last year when they announced the engagement one of the agents phoned me up and asked me: ‘Do you still look like Prince Harry?’
‘And I said, ‘I think so,’ so I went to their offices for a meeting.
‘They put me on their books but then that was it until about March time, which is when more and more work started coming up.’
After making a name for himself on social media, he entered a royal lookalike contest.
And it was a Spanish woman called Inmaculada Santisteban who he teamed up with to eventually be crowned the best Harry and Meghan lookalikes in Europe.
Despite not speaking the same language, Inma, 33, has struck up a firm friendship with her English Harry lookalike.
The pair insist they are just friends and will not be following in their royal counterparts’ footsteps and entering a romantic relationship.
Drinks for the Duke and Duchess! Rhys is pictured on a photoshoot with one of his Meghan lookalikes Tajah Williams
On another photoshoot with ‘Meghan’ Danielle Tottman, Rhys was accompanied by a professional harpist and food and a champagne hamper
The 35-year-old doppelganger is pictured with Ruth Johnson for a Harry and Meghan lookalike photoshoot in London
Rhys said: ‘I went to Seville on holiday recently and we met up to do some photos, but we’re just friends.’
Naturally the week of the Royal wedding was Rhys’s busiest, with him rushing to six jobs in six days.
But it has proven lucrative, with some appointments earning him more than £1,000 an hour.
Rhys, pictured with Inma, has been mistaken for Harry in and around Kensington (pictured) where the royal couple live
On the day of the wedding, Rhys got up at the crack of dawn to get the train to Windsor.
He said: ‘The week of the wedding was really crazy. I was doing at least one if not two jobs a day. I was exhausted.
‘On the day when I got to Paddington to get the train someone shouted at me ‘Don’t be late for the wedding Harry!
‘I do get people staring at me on the Underground, but they soon remember Harry would never take public transport, so it couldn’t be him.’
The impersonator did some TV interviews and was meant to have a spot inside the castle grounds with one of his many Meghans, but the crowds were too big by the time he arrived.
He said: ‘I managed to see the carriage go down the High Street.
‘When it was finished I went back to London in the evening to do a Thames boat cruise with William and Kate lookalikes.’
Rhys’s family, who are originally from Cardiff, are very pleased with his new life as a Harry double and are big fans of the royal family.
His sister met the Queen when she visited her during her school years at Cheltenham Ladies College and his father was at the University of Aberystwyth at the same time as Prince Charles and often caught glimpses of him around campus.
But although he impersonates him, he says his son Prince Harry isn’t his hero.
He said: ‘I like him, but I’m not an obsessive. I’m pleased he’s found someone he can settle down with, after all the trouble he’s had in his life, with his mum and everything. And Meghan seems really nice, she has a lovely smile.’
The furthest Rhys has been sent for a job is the Chinese gambling haven of Macau for the 75th birthday of billionaire businessman Quek Leng Chan. He is pictured with fellow lookalikes who impersonate the Queen, Prince William and Prince George
Malaysian tycoon Quek Leng Chan is worth $7.2billion and is a fan of all things British, asking for Royal lookalikes to attend his special day at a luxury casino. His wedding cake, in the shape of the royal carriage, is pictured
With Harry’s popularity, Rhys says his royal act is usually well-received.
He added: ‘Some lookalikes play bad guys. But everybody universally adores Harry, so I’m pleased with that. I usually get a good response from people.’
The 35-year-old says he hasn’t had to make too much of an effort to maintain his ‘Harry look’ as his wardrobe isn’t as varied as his wife’s.
But having the same features as the prince is more rare, he claims.
‘There aren’t very many of us. There are only about six in the whole country.
‘But there are a lot more Meghans – more like 20. It’s easy to look like her I think. Anyone can have long black hair and look pretty, but with Harry you have to be tall with red hair. I think it’s harder.
There’s no place like home! Rhys Whittock is pictured outside the gates of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s home at Kensington Palace in central London. They will move to Frogmore Cottage at Windsor Castle in the New Year
Visiting granny! Rhys is pictured in his best Prince Harry blue suit outside the gates of Buckingham Palace on a trip to London
‘I have to keep up to date with what he’s wearing and whether he has facial hair or not.
‘But clothes-wise it’s pretty easy, I’ve been given the wedding outfit to wear and I just have his blue coat.’
While being on TV on ITV’s Loose Women was daunting, he adds that the strangest experience he’s had is having his picture taken with Prince William, Charles and the Queen lookalikes in his swimming costume.
He said: ‘The weirdest job I’ve been asked to do was sit in a hot tub on top of a canal boat in London with lookalikes for the Queen, Prince William and Prince Charles.
‘I had to wear Union Jack Speedos and it was freezing. It was bizarre.’
The furthest Rhys has been sent for a job is the Chinese gambling haven of Macau for the 75th birthday of billionaire businessman Quek Leng Chan.
The Malaysian tycoon, worth $7.2billion is a fan of all things British and asked for Royal lookalikes to attend his special day at a luxury casino.
Rhys and Inma (circled, right) battled it out with other Harry and Meghan lookalikes to be crowned the best in Europe this year
Judges preside over which couple (Rhys and Inma circled) should be crowned the best Harry and Meghan lookalikes in Europe on a London rooftop
Rhys and other royal lookalikeswere joined by Elton John and Adele tribute acts, as guests drank champagne and and tucked into a jaw-dropping birthday cake.
While the security guards at Meghan and Harry’s home at Kensington Palace have got used to seeing him posing for photos – they were nearly fooled by his Harry impression once.
He said: ‘One day I was doing some promotional shots for my social media pages when I decided to go to Harry’s gym.
‘The bodyguards started to let me in because they thought it was him. But they quickly realised I had no security team, so it couldn’t be. It was quite funny.’
Rhys says there is not quite enough demand for him to give up his day job, but with Harry and Meghan’s baby expected next year, that could change and he might consider it.
Rhys is pictured (left) with fellow lookalikes for Prince William (centre) and Kate Middleton (right) on a River Thames cruise on the day of Harry and Meghan’s wedding in May this year