Meghan Markle skipped Pippa Middleton's wedding ceremony amid fears she would upstage the bride – as boyfriend Prince Harry left the afternoon reception early to collect her in London and bring her back for the evening festivities.

The gallant prince personally drove 50 miles back and forth from the event at St Mark's Church in Berkshire to bring her from Kensington Palace to the evening reception.

Pippa, 33, the younger sister of Dutchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton, married hedge-fund manager James Matthews – the brother of ex-Made in Chelsea star Spencer Matthews – on a private estate in the village of Bucklebury.

A number of high profile guests attended, including tennis superstar Roger Federer, as well as Princess Eugenie and Donna Air.

Markle, who rose to fame whilst appearing on TV show "Suits", was widely expected to attend the wedding, which is believed to have cost £500,000. Royal expert Richard Fitzwilliams, however, had previously told IBTimes UK that she may have wanted to avoid the "tidal wave of publicity" that would greet her arrival.

"The tidal wave of publicity that would greet Harry and Meghan appearing together may mean that it was not what either of them or Pippa wanted. This has so far been a very private event with press access only at a distance."

He added: "It certainly does not mean either Harry or Meghan are less committed to each other, this is a serious relationship which will be a year old in August."

Since the revelation that Markle had started a relationship with Prince Harry in November 2016, there has been a resulting media storm that has caused concern within the royal family – with the Prince himself later being forced to release a statement expressing his concern for her safety amid growing paparazzi presence.

In that statement, he added he was "worried about Ms. Markle's safety and is deeply disappointed that he has not been able to protect her", pleading with the media to give them space and respect.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle confirmed their relationship in November 2016. Getty Images