Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Charles, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, and Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge attend the annual Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey in London, Britain March 9, 2020. (Reuters)
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LONDON – Britain’s top royals came together on Monday at Westminster Abbey in their last public family gathering before Prince Harry and his wife Meghan set off on a new career path devoid of official duties.
The annual Commonwealth Service was also the first time Harry and Meghan had been seen with Queen Elizabeth, his elder brother William and wife Kate, and father Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, since the couple thrashed out an exit deal from their royal roles in January.
Harry and Meghan smiled and she waved at William and Kate as they arrived at the abbey. The couple chatted and laughed with his uncle, Prince Edward, who was sitting next to them.
“I imagine everybody will be on absolutely best behaviour,” royal biographer Penny Junor told Reuters. “But goodness knows what they will all be thinking privately.”
The January agreement, which comes into force at the end of the month, will see the couple – the Duke and Duchess of Sussex – seek to carve out “a progressive new role”, mainly in North America, that they aim to finance themselves.
Harry, 35, and Meghan, 38, will stop using their HRH titles – His or Her Royal Highness, will not use “royal” in their branding and Harry, who remains a prince, will relinquish his military titles.
Their announcement that they wished to step back from some royal duties sent shockwaves through the monarchy. It led to a crisis meeting involving the 93-year-old queen, her heir Charles, William and Harry that concluded he and Meghan would have to give up all their royal duties.
The couple have since spent most of their time in Canada, but returned this month for a farewell round of engagements. Their baby son Archie has remained in Canada.
Monday’s event was their last official royal appearance and came less than two years after they married in a dazzling ceremony watched by millions. (Reuters)