Prince Harry and his wife Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, attended their last event as senior members of the British royal family on Monday afternoon, CNN reported. The couple joined Queen Elizabeth, Prince Charles, Prince William and his wife, the Duchess of Cambridge Kate, at the annual Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey in Central London. The couple will officially step down as royals on March 31.
This was the first time the couple was seen alongside other members of the royal family since they announced their decision to step back from royal duties in January, BBC reported. After the service, Harry and Meghan walked out holding hands. Meghan was seen talking to children who were standing outside the church holding flowers for her.
The couple will now return to their current base in Canada, where their son, Archie, has stayed during the UK trip.
Harry and Meghan had announced in January that they were stepping back as senior members of the royal family and will work towards becoming financially independent. They said that the decision will enable them to raise their son Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor with appreciation for the royal tradition and provide the family with the “space to focus on the next chapter.” Harry had hinted that the pressures of excessive media scrutiny had led to their decision.
Buckingham Palace was reportedly not consulted by the couple when they took the decision, and reportedly left family members feeling “disappointed” and “hurt”.
Senior royals had met to discuss the couple’s shock announcement. In her official statement after the meeting, the Queen had expressed support for Harry and Meghan’s decision. “These are complex matters for my family to resolve, and there is some more work to be done,” she had said.
Harry and Meghan will not use His or Her Royal Highness titles and will not receive public funds for royal duties. The couple will also no longer formally represent the Queen. They will also try to repay £2.4m of taxpayer money for the refurbishment of Frogmore Cottage, which will remain their UK family home.