Prince Harry and his wife Meghan joined the royal family on Friday for their first public appearance in Britain, at a platinum jubilee service to mark the 70th anniversary of the enthronement of Queen Elizabeth II.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, as they are officially known, mostly came to cheer from the crowd outside St. Paul’s Cathedral.
Former British Army Captain Harry, 37, wore a morning suit, complete with military medals, while Meghan, 40, wore an off-white dress and matching hat.
They took their seats in the 2,000-strong congregation for Church of England service, culminating in the trumpet blast and the national anthem “God Save the Queen” and a rare pill from the Great Paul, the country’s largest bell.
The family was expected to reunite publicly after Harry’s grandmother withdrew from the Queen’s service after suffering “some discomfort” at the start of Thursday’s four-day celebration.
The 96-year-old king, who has reportedly seen the service on television, has had difficulty standing and walking which has forced him to cancel several engagements since last year.
On Thursday, he made two public appearances on the porch of Buckingham Palace in front of a large crowd after the Trooping the Color Military Parade.
In the evening, he led a nationwide illuminated beacon ceremony at Windsor Castle and led the Commonwealth to 54 countries.
His withdrawal, which the palace said he took “with great reluctance”, cast doubt on his presence at the showpiece flat-racing event The Derby at Epsom Racecourse on Saturday.
The Queen has missed the Derby only three times in her reign, most recently in 2020 when visitors were interrupted by Kovid.
Stephen Cottrell, Archbishop of York, the second-highest ranking clergyman in the Church of England, thanked the Queen for “having a course” in her sermon.
Referring to the Grand National Jump course near Liverpool, he said: “Your long reign reflects the distance to the entry point rather than the sprint to Epsom.”
“We’re sorry you weren’t here with us this morning but we’re glad you’re still in Saddle and … that much more to come.”
Outside the domed 17th-century cathedral, royal fan Stephanie Street, 35, said she was “a little” disappointed that the queen had withdrawn.
But the event manager added: “It’s understandable because he’s 96.”
The Queen’s humiliated second son, Prince Andrew, missed out on the service after a positive test for Covid, despite being removed from royal duties due to his links to two convicted sex offenders.
The queen’s successor, the future King Prince Charles, 73, was again the most senior-ranking royal. He stood in the procession on Thursday to greet the soldiers on horseback.
The congregation consisted of about 400 health and social care workers, who were invited to give thanks for their work during the Kovid epidemic.
The Bible was designed to reflect lessons, prayers, and hymns, and what the palace said was a “lifetime service” to the queen.
The queen has received congratulations for her record-breaking reign from world leaders, including North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, US President Joe Biden and France’s Emanuel Macron.
Harry, Megan is unpleasant
Overnight, the UK government confirmed plans to return the crown mark to pint glasses instead of the post-Brexit EU quality control sign, saying it was an “honorable tribute” to the king.
It also introduced a proposal to allow the sale of goods in the imperialist system after the EU law gave precedence to metrics.
The anniversary marks the end of an era, and the focus shifts to the long-term future of legacy and monarchy.
Harry and US television actress Megan, who are of mixed race, were once hailed as the modern face of the ancient institution after their marriage in 2018.
But less than two years later, they left the royal life and moved to the United States, launching a series of harmful broadsides, including racism.
The couple set up a charitable foundation but in a bombastic television interview angered royal supporters to lift the lid of royal life.
A recent YouGov poll indicates that almost two-thirds (63 per cent) of the British public have a negative view of them – the lowest ever.
‘Not about them’
“I think they should probably be in the background,” said Surgeon Roger Nagy, 51, who flew from Denver, Colorado to celebrate.
“They can do whatever they want with their lives but they probably shouldn’t say anything. It’s about the queen, it’s not about them,” he added.
All eyes will be on the couple and the signs of excitement between Harry’s older brother William, 39, and his wife Kate, 40.
Harry said in October 2019 that he and William were “on a different path”, apparently confirming a rift that he opened after he started dating Meghan.
The couple was last seen in public in July 2021 during the unveiling of a statue of their late mother, Princess Diana, and in April at the funeral of their grandfather, the Queen’s husband, Prince Philip.
(Except for the title, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and was published from a syndicated feed.)