(LONDON) — Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, attended their first royal event Friday in two years.
The Sussexes attended Friday’s National Service of Thanksgiving for Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee, marking the first time the couple has appeared publicly with Britain’s royal family since stepping down from their senior royal roles.
Meghan, wearing a white, belted coat and hat, and Harry, dressed in a suit adorned with his military medals, were greeted by cheers from the crowd as they climbed the steps of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, walking in several minutes ahead of Harry’s father, Prince Charles, and his wife, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, and brother, Prince William, and his wife, Kate, Duchess of Cambridge.
Harry and Meghan’s last official engagement as senior working royals was in March 2020.
Since then, the couple, now the parents of two children, have moved to California and launched their own careers, starting the Archewell Foundation, their nonprofit, and Archewell Productions, their production company, through which they have launched deals with companies including Spotify and Netflix.
The last time Harry appeared publicly with his family was last July, when he traveled to the U.K. and joined his brother, Prince William, for the unveiling of a statue of their late mother, Princess Diana.
Meghan was not believed to have returned to the U.K. until earlier this year, in April, when she and Harry made a private visit to the queen on their way to the Netherlands for the Invictus Games.
While at the Invictus Games, Harry made headlines when he said in an interview that he was focused on making sure his 96-year-old grandmother, the queen, has “the right people around her.”
“I’m just making sure that she’s, you know, protected and got the right people around her,” said Harry, who described his relationship with his grandmother as “really special,” adding, “We talk about things that she can’t talk about with anybody else.”
Harry’s comments drew some backlash from the British press and raised questions about who he believes he is protecting her from. The royal family did not issue a response to Harry’s comments.
Last year, Harry and Meghan also made headlines when they sat down for an in-depth interview with Oprah Winfrey. During the interview, the couple revealed Meghan’s serious mental health struggles as a royal, made an allegation of racism within the royal family and claimed they were cut off financially and denied security protection after stepping down from their royal roles.
Buckingham Palace issued a statement after the interview on behalf of the queen, saying the Sussexes “will always be much loved family members.”
“The whole family is saddened to learn the full extent of how challenging the last few years have been for Harry and Meghan,” the statement read. “The issues raised, particularly that of race, are concerning. While some recollections may vary, they are taken very seriously and will be addressed by the family privately.”
Harry has seemed to maintain a close relationship with the queen even after his departure from the U.K. and his royal role. He and Meghan named their youngest child, daughter Lilibet “Lili” Diana Mountbatten-Windsor, after Elizabeth, whose family nickname is Lilibet.
The queen is believed to have met Lili on Thursday in Windsor. The Sussexes confirmed last month they would bring Lili, who turns 1 on Saturday, and her older brother, 3-year-old Archie, with them to the U.K.
“Yesterday, after Trooping the Color, would have been the first opportunity for the queen to meet Lilibet, as they both returned to Windsor following the parade,” said Omid Scobie, ABC News royal contributor. “Despite everything that has happened, the relationship between the Sussexes and the queen has remained warm and close.”
He continued, “Introducing her to Lilibet will no doubt be one of the highlights of the Sussexes’ time here in England and a moment the queen has been looking forward to.”
Friday’s service of thanksgiving is the first jubilee event Harry and Meghan have attended publicly, but they did gather with royal family members one day prior.
The Sussexes watched the Trooping the Color parade and the military flypast Thursday from an office in Buckingham Palace, along with other members of the royal family. Only family members who are active working royals appeared on the balcony of Buckingham Palace with the queen at the annual event.
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