Meghan and Harry joined the Queen and other senior royals at the annual Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey!
The Commonwealth Day service comes at the end of a busy roster of final duties for Meghan and Harry, both individually and as a couple. Harry attended a summit for his sustainable tourism project, Travalyst, in Edinburgh, collaborated with Jon Bon Jovi on a charity single for the Invictus Games and joined Lewis Hamilton at Silverstone racing circuit. Meghan, after arriving in the UK last week, has made visits to the National Theatre and to a school in Dagenham to mark International Women’s Day. As a duo, the pair made their public debut together since January at the Endeavour Fund Awards last week, before attending the annual Mountbatten Festival of Music at the Royal Albert Hall on Saturday night.
With the Sussexes stepping down from royal life after 29 March, today marks the couple’s last public engagement as official working members of the Royal Family.
Commonwealth Day is an event that has been the subject of some controversy, considering the difficult legacy of Britain’s colonial past. With its roots in Empire Day, established after Queen Victoria’s death in 1901, the event was renamed Commonwealth Day under Prime Minister Harold MacMillan in 1958. It was originally celebrated on Victoria’s birthday, 24 May, but in 1973 the Royal Commonwealth Society made the decision to move the date to the second Monday of March each year. In its current modern incarnation, Commonwealth Day is intended as a celebration of cultural exchange and the shared values of Commonwealth nations.
Commonwealth Day Theme this year was centered around the theme ‘Delivering a Common Future’. This was the achievement of a common future that has highlighted how the 54 member countries in the Commonwealth family will be ‘innovating, connecting and transforming’.
In her Commonwealth Day message released today, the Queen said that ‘Such a blend of traditions serves to make us stronger, individually and collectively, by providing the ingredients needed for social, political and economic resilience.’ She gestured to the climate crisis, referencing ‘how the countries of the Commonwealth continue to devise new ways of working together to achieve prosperity, whilst protecting our planet.’ She ended with a message of positivity, concluding: ‘As members of this very special community, on this Commonwealth Day, I hope that the people and countries of the Commonwealth will be inspired by all that we share, and move forward with fresh resolve to enhance the Commonwealth’s influence for good in our world.’
Today’s event constitutes the first time that the Royal Family has appeared in public a group of this size since the Sussexes announced their departure. Harry and Meghan did, however, join the Queen to attend church in Windsor yesterday, and Harry reportedly met with his grandmother for a lengthy discussion last Sunday. Having completed their final engagement, the couple is expected to return to Canada soon to embark on their new life.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arriving
A video from the arrivals of the royals:
Last-minute changes meant the Cambridges and the Sussexes were led straight to their seats – rather than waiting for the Queen and taking part in the procession as they did in 2019.
Meghan and Harry greeted the Cambridges as they arrived
The 2,000 strong congregations included the British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson; the Commonwealth Secretary-General, Baroness Scotland; High Commissioners and Ambassadors; senior politicians from across the UK and the Commonwealth; faith leaders; and more than 800 school children and young people.
Anthony Joshua OBE, British world heavyweight boxing champion and Olympic gold medallist, read a reflection in and which he spoke of his Commonwealth heritage:
I am proudly British and Nigerian and I join a long line – perhaps too long to count – of UK citizens of Commonwealth origin who’ve made enormous contributions to this great, multi-cultural society of ours.
The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, gave a reading from Luke 10.
The service was sung by The Choir of Westminster Abbey, conducted by James O’Donnell, Organist and Master of the Choristers. The organ was played by Peter Holder, Sub-Organist, and before the service by Matthew Jorysz, Assistant Organist.
A picture of the royals on their way to meet some of the performers
Meghan had a chat with Anthony Joshua after the Commonwealth Day service – he gave a speech during the service.
Meghan also met The X Factor winner Alexandra Burke who was hugged by Meghan! Alexandra said afterwards:
Meghan is the nicest person ever. When we met at the Commonwealth Service, she said wasn’t allowed to hug me because it was at the start of coronavirus — but it was right at the start, before everyone really knew what was going on. So she said, “I’ve been advised not to hug or touch anyone, but I’m going to hug you anyway”, and then she squeezed me. She was going through a lot, and thanked me for my support.’
Watch the sweet moment below
Meghan crouched down to speak to one schoolgirl, who presented her with a bouquet of flowers before departing!
A departure video
Meghan leaving Commonwealth Day – her last engagement as a senior royal
Meghan went for a bold and bright statement look for her and Harry’s appearance for Commonwealth Day services today. She stunned in a bespoke monochromatic green striking, emerald-green Emilia Wickstead cape dress!
Her hat was by William Chambers. The milliner shared: “We were honored to make this custom hat for the Duchess of Sussex to wear today at the Commonwealth Service.”
She styled it with some Aquazzura Nude Pumps
She carried Gabriela Hearst Demi bag.
And accessorized with her Birks Snowflake Snowstorm earrings.
And like the prom date from your dreams, Prince Harry subtly coordinated his look, wearing a suit lined in the same shade of green. Photographers caught the details when a gust of wind blew Harry’s coat back, exposing the inside of his suit. It is undeniable proof he will always support his wife, even in fashion. (His patterned tie was also a complementary hue of pale green.)
I will of course continue to follow Harry and Meghan’s journey, and I can’t wait to see what they´re up to next!