Prince Harry and his wife Meghan joined the royal family on Friday in their first public appearance in Britain in two years, on a platinum jubilee in a record 70 years on the throne of Queen Elizabeth II.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, as they are formally known, arrived mostly to cheer the crowd in front of St. Paul’s Cathedral.
Former British Army Captain Harry, 37, was dressed in a morning suit, along with military medals, while Meghan, 40, was in an almost white dress and hat accordingly.
They took their seats inside among a congregation of 2,000 people, at a service in the Church of England, which ended with trumpet fanfare and the national anthem “God save the Queen” plus the rare sound of the largest bell in the country, St. Paul.
Hopes that the family would publicly reunite were dashed after Harry’s grandmother, who the queen withdrew from service after suffering “some discomfort” at the start of a four-day celebration on Thursday.
The ninety-six-year-old monarch, who is said to have watched the service on television, followed the difficulties in standing and walking that forced her to cancel through last year’s engagements.
She appeared in public twice on Thursday on the balcony of Buckingham Palace in front of a huge crowd after the Trooping the Color military parade.
In the evening, she was at Windsor Castle for a lighthouse-lighting ceremony across the country and the Commonwealth of 54 nations she heads.
Her resignation, which the palace said she accepted with “great reluctance”, calls into question her appearance at the top Derby racing event in Epsom on Saturday.
The Queen has missed the Derby only three times in her reign, the last time in 2020 when spectators were barred from access due to Covid.
The second-ranked priest of the Church of England, Archbishop of York Stephen Cottrell, thanked the Queen in her sermon for “holding the course”.
“Your long reign reflects the distance of Aintree, not the sprints of Epsom,” he said, referring to the Grand National track near Liverpool.
“We’re sorry you’re not here with us this morning, but we’re so glad you’re still in the saddle and … still waiting for us.”
In front of a 17th-century domed cathedral, royal admirer Stephanie Stitt, 35, said she was “a little” disappointed that the queen had retired.
But the event manager added, “That’s understandable because she’s 96.”
The Queen’s embarrassed second son, Prince Andrew, who has been removed from royal duties because of his connections to two convicted sex offenders, also missed the service after being positive on Covid.
The Queen’s successor, the future King Prince Charles, 73, was again the highest member of the royal family. He took part in a parade on Thursday to greet troops on horseback.
The congregation included about 400 health and social staff, invited to thank for their work during the Covid pandemic.
Bible readings, prayers and hymns are designed to reflect and recognize what the palace said was the Queen’s “lifelong ministry.”
The Queen received congratulations for her record reign from leaders around the world, including North Korean Kim Jong Un, US President Joe Biden and Frenchman Emmanuel Macron.
Harry, Meghan unpopular
The UK government confirmed overnight plans after Brexit to return the crown symbol to pie glasses instead of the EU’s quality control label, which she said was a “fitting tribute” to the monarch.
He also launched consultations to allow the sale of goods in imperial measures after EU law gave metric primacy.
The Jubilee has a sense of the end of an era, and the focus is on succession and the long-term future of the monarchy.
Harry and American television actress Meghan, who is a mixed race, were once praised as the modern face of an ancient institution after they got married in 2018.
But less than two years later, they left royal life and moved to the United States, launching a series of harmful propaganda acts, including racism.
The couple founded a charity foundation, but angered the royal supporters because they lifted the lid on the royal life in a big television interview.
A recent YouGov poll found that almost two-thirds (63 per cent) of the British public has a negative view of them – an all-time record.
‘Not about them’
“I think we should probably stay in the background,” said surgeon Roger Nagy, 51, who flew in for the celebrations from Denver, Colorado.
“They can do what they want with their lives, but they probably shouldn’t say anything. This is about the queen, not them,” he added.
All eyes will be on the signs of tension between the couple and Harry’s older brother William (39) and his wife Kate (40).
Harry said in October 2019 that he and William were on “different paths”, apparently confirming the rift that had opened up after he started dating Megan.
The couple was last seen in public at the unveiling of a statue of their late mother Princess Diana in July 2021 and at the funeral of their grandfather, the Queen’s husband Prince Philip, that April.
(Apart from the headline, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and was published on a syndicated feed.)