Queen Elizabeth II skips the platinum jubilee service; Harry, Megan is reunited with the British royal family

Prince Harry and his wife Meghan joined other members of the British royal family on Friday in a church service in honor 70 years on the throne of Queen Elizabeth II, for the first time in the UK since retiring from royal office two years ago.

The Queen skipped the event at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, which was held for the second of four days of the ceremony on the occasion of her platinum jubilee. The ninety-six-year-old monarch has had difficulty moving in recent months and has experienced “some discomfort” after smiling and waving to a crowd of supporters from the balcony of Buckingham Palace on Thursday afternoon.

But the royal observers quickly shifted their focus to Harry and Megan, who were holding hands as they walked down a long central aisle accompanied only by a military officer in a crimson dress. Other guests twisted their necks to watch the couple take their seats in the second row, emphasizing their minor role as non-working members of the royal family.

Prince Charles, who represented the Queen, and his wife, the Duchess of Cornwall, had special chairs in the front row on the other side of the central aisle. Prince William and his wife, the Duchess of Cambridge, sat beside them.

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Harry and Meghan caused tensions within the royal family when they moved to California and signed lucrative media contracts. The rift deepened after accusations of racism and harassment were made in the royal house. But they returned to Britain to celebrate the jubilee, bringing their son Archie and daughter Lilibet, who never met their great-grandmother queen.

“This is, again, Elizabeth II trying to set up a united front, gathering her family for the last time, probably during her reign, so that … handing over to the next monarch, it can be seen that she did at least publicly the best thing is to try to unite divisions that have opened up within the family group in recent years, ”Ed Owens, author of the book Family firm: monarchical mass media and the British public 1932-53 he said in an interview ahead of the jubilee.

The Thanksgiving service was held the day after the celebrations opened with a dazzling military parade known as Trooping the Color, an event that has been marking the state’s birthday for about 260 years.

After the event, tens of thousands of royal supporters cheered wildly as Elizabeth joined other senior members of the royal family on the balcony of the palace, and 70 military planes roared overhead in greeting.

The Queen persistently appeared later in the evening in front of her house in Windsor Castle for the last moments of the international lighthouse lighting ceremony. Moving slowly and with difficulty, she pressed the illuminated globe that sent a river of light that flooded toward Buckingham Palace, where a sculpture of living trees was illuminated.

Although the palace said it enjoyed the festivities, the Queen apparently decided that another trip from Windsor to London on Friday could be a little too much. Prince Charles has again replaced his mother in worship, as he has often done lately.

But the queen was still part of the service because the participants assumed that she was watching her on television.

Archbishop of York Stephen Cottrell addressed her directly in his sermon, playfully speaking of her love of horse racing.

“I’m afraid I don’t have great advice for tomorrow’s Derby, but since the scriptures describe life as a race ahead, let me note that your long reign reflects the distance of Aintree, not the sprints of Epsom,” he joked. “But with perseverance, through a time of change and challenge, joy and sorrow, you continue to offer yourself in the service of our country and community.”

“Your Majesty, we are sorry that you are not with us this morning, but we are so glad that you are still in the saddle,” he added. “And we’re all glad we’re still waiting.”

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