During the years that Harry Potter was living with the Dursleys, before his fateful eleventh birthday, some wizards and witches spotted Harry — and were spotted by him.

Yet sometimes he thought (or maybe hoped) that strangers in the street seemed to know him. Very strange strangers they were, too. A tiny man in a violet top hat had bowed to him once while out shopping with Aunt Petunia and Dudley. [...] A wild-looking old woman dressed all in green had waved merrily at him once on a bus. A bald man in a very long purple coat had actually shaken his hand in the street the other day and then walked away without a word. The weirdest thing about all these people was the way they seemed to vanish the second Harry tried to get a closer look.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, chapter 2 – "The Vanishing Glass"

We know the first of those was Dedalus Diggle.

"I've seen you before!" said Harry, as Dedalus Diggle’s top hat fell off in his excitement. "You bowed to me once in a shop."

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, chapter 5 – "Diagon Alley"

Who were the other two, the "wild-looking woman dressed all in green" and the "bald man in a very long purple coat"?

  • 5
    Lexicon has guesses for Emmeline Vance and Kingsley Shacklebolt, respectively (following the theory that Harry is being tailed by Order members, and they’re the closest who fit the bill: hp-lexicon.org/source/the-harry-potter-novels/ps/ps2. Not sure I agree – I think Order members might be more discreet. – alexwlchan Jun 22 '17 at 19:43
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    While Kingsley was my first though too (I know he at least wore purple in the movies, and probably in the books), I feel like Harry would have remembered Kingsley and Vance. He remembered Dedalus Diggle, after all. – Adamant Jun 22 '17 at 19:45
  • JKR once said (on Pottermore?) that purple and green, mainly purple, are colors used by witches and wizards to recognize one another in the Muggle world. So I wouldn't take the witch's green clothes as a sign that she is Emmeline Vance. (Notice how both Diggle and the other wizard are seen wearing purple). I agree with the answers and comments below that say Order members probably would have been more discreet. =) – Pwassonne Nov 21 '17 at 20:00

Aunt Petunia always tried to cover up Harry's scar, so they must have been people who already knew who he was, probably in the Order of the Phoenix. (They could also have been Death Eaters spying for Voldemort, but this is unlikely because they all thought he was dead forever.)

But if they were in the Order, Harry might have seen them when they came for meetings. So either they were killed, away on missions, in hiding, or my favorite solution, it's possible that they were using Polyjuice Potion for various reasons, for instance:

  • They were worried about Death Eaters recognizing them
  • They used different people each time so Harry wouldn't recognize them
  • They were well-known wizards and were trying to blend in

So, in conclusion, they were most likely members of the Order.

  • 4
    not likely the OotP members would make such a noticeable / memorable scene if they were intended to keep an eye on / protect Harry when he was out and about and Death Eaters would have killed him on sight if they had the chance - especially if out and about in the Muggle world – NKCampbell Aug 17 '17 at 19:27
  • The feels like it's trying to answer a similar question set during OotP. – amflare Aug 17 '17 at 19:33
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    Where does "Aunt Petunia always covered up Harry's scar" come from? That's not based on anything that I'm aware of. – Anthony Grist Aug 17 '17 at 20:24
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    Any "scar-covering" that Petunia might have done didn't stop Dedalus Diggle recognising Harry, so I don't think that is a reason to assume that only the Order (or Death Eaters) would know who he was. – Blackwood Aug 17 '17 at 23:55
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    Harry was also recognized instantly by nearly everyone present as he walked into the Leaky Cauldron the very first time (likely due to his resemblance to his father, in addition to his scar), so it stands to reason that ordinary witches and wizards walking around the Muggle world would recognize him just as easily. – Adam V Nov 21 '17 at 21:02

The books never specify who it is. Likely, the witch and wizard who spotted Harry knew who he was, which pretty much narrows it down to every witch or wizard in the UK. The Harry Potter Lexicon believes the two to be Emmeline Vance and Kingsley Shacklebolt.

A wild-looking old woman dressed all in green had waved merrily at him once on a bus.

Since we can identify Diggle, it's fun to try to do the same with the other magical folk Harry encounters at this point in his life. It seems probable that when Harry goes out, he and his Aunt are shadowed by members of the Order, so we'll look to their ranks for possible matches.

"Dressed all in green" sounds like Emmeline Vance of the Order of the Phoenix, who favors an emerald shawl, but she looks stately, not wild.

A bald man in a very long purple coat had actually shaken his hand in the street the other day and then walked away without a word.

This might have been Kingsley Shacklebolt, although we don't know enough about how Kingsley dresses or what this particular bald man looked like to tell for sure.

Considering that the Order is always following Harry around, it is likely that the witch and wizard were part of the OoTP. Emmeline was on the Advance Guard, and the first and second Order of the Phoenix, which makes her a likely suspect. Kingsley Shacklebolt, also a member of the Order, is known for wearing purple, and was initiated to the Order in 1995, a perfect time to meet Harry.

  • 2
    You'd think the order would be under strict orders to never interact with the boy though? Kingsley at least would take that very seriously. – GordonBennett Dec 2 '19 at 8:23

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