Revealed: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle went to church with the Queen to attend unveiling of plague for fallen Afghanistan hero who was son of royal gardener
- Ben Reddy, 22, was killed under attack in Helmand province in March 2007
- Service held at Royal Chapel of All Saints in Windsor Great Park yesterday
- Marine’s death 13 years ago was remembered as a plaque was unveiled
- Marine Reddy lived with parents Liz and Phil Reddy at their home in Windsor
The Duke of Sussex attended church with his wife Meghan and the Queen yesterday to pay tribute to a Royal Marine who died in Afghanistan 13 years ago.
Ben Reddy, 22, was killed when K Company of 42 Commando came under fire from militants in the volatile Helmand province on March 6, 2007.
And Harry attended a service at the Royal Chapel of All Saints in Windsor Great Park yesterday in memory of the Marine as a plaque was unveiled in his memory.
Prince Harry and Meghan attended a service at the Royal Chapel of All Saints in Windsor Great Park yesterday (left) as a plaque was unveiled in memory of Royal Marine Ben Reddy (right)
Marine Reddy lived with his parents Liz and Phil Reddy at their home in Windsor Great Park, where Mr Reddy worked as a gardener for the Queen for many years.
Harry, who is Captain General of the Royal Marines and served in Afghanistan soon after Marine Reddy’s death, wanted to attend the service, reported The Times.
He was close to tears at the Royal Albert Hall in London on Saturday night as he received a long round of applause during his final engagement as Captain General.
Wearing a red ceremonial uniform, Harry was visibly moved and appeared to bite his lip upon receiving a standing ovation at the Mountbatten Festival of Music.
Following Marine Reddy’s death in 2007, the Queen sent a personal message of condolence to his father.
Senior royal sources said at the time that the death of Marine Reddy brought into sharp perspective for the Queen the risks of Harry’s deployment to Iraq.
He was the 51st British serviceman to die in Afghanistan since 2001 and the ninth Marine killed since they took over the main infantry fighting force from the Paras.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex joined the Queen for the church service in Windsor yesterday
Marine Reddy, who was said to have been ‘particularly close’ to his family, died as his unit launched an assault on insurgents near the strategically important Kajaki Dam.
The Marines were trying to clear a safe area around the dam, enabling engineers to upgrade a power station, when they came under fire.
Marine Reddy had served in Afghanistan for nearly six months and had been due home within weeks.
In a statement issued by the Ministry of Defence after their son’s death, they said: ‘This is the saddest day in our lives.
‘Ben’s death has left us feeling totally empty. He was, and always will be, our hero.’
His comrades in K Company said: ‘Ben’s absence will be profoundly felt within K Company. We have lost a vibrant, unique character with an irrepressible sense of loyalty to his comrades. But, most of all, we have lost a true friend.’
Marine Reddy’s commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Matt Holmes, said: ‘He was rightly very proud of his Green Beret, the outward mark of the Commando soldier.
‘However, the real display of his Commando qualities was in his daily actions with K Company, and he had acquitted himself well fighting alongside his colleagues on numerous occasions.
‘Courageous and proficient when in contact with the enemy, his fighting spirit was indomitable.’
The Queen arrives for the church service at Windsor Great Park yesterday
Meghan met the Queen for the first time yesterday since she and Harry announced they are to quit as senior royals.
The couple attended the church service in Windsor with Her Majesty as they prepare to leave the royal household in a little over three weeks.
They will take part in their final royal engagement today when they will join the Queen and other senior royals at Westminster Abbey to mark Commonwealth Day.
It will be the first time the Royal Family has come together in public since the Sussexes announced they were stepping down.
Guests of honour among the 2,000-strong congregation will include the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Commonwealth secretary-general Baroness Scotland, high commissioners, ambassadors, faith leaders and more than 800 schoolchildren.
Yesterday Harry smiled and appeared relaxed as he drove Meghan to the Royal Chapel of All Saints in Windsor Great Park.
It was the first time that the duchess has seen the Queen since the couple dramatically announced on January 6 that they would be retiring from public life.
While Harry has sat down with the Queen on several occasions since, Meghan has stayed in Canada with their son Archie.
Prince Harry (right) or just plain Captain Wales as he is known in the British Army, racing out from the VHR (very high ready-ness) tent to scramble his Apache with fellow Pilots, during his 12 hour shift at the British controlled flight-line in Camp Bastion in Afghanistan in 2012
But any hopes that she may have had of seeing her great-grandson were dashed because Archie remains on Vancouver Island.
The Sussexes are expected to return to Canada next week, and their new life away from royal duties will officially start on April 1.
Harry will remain sixth in line to the throne, despite stepping down as a senior royal.
The Duke and Duchess will not be part of the Queen’s procession through Westminster Abbey at the start of the Commonwealth Service today as they make their final official appearance as senior royals.
Harry and Meghan are joining the monarch, the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in the central London church as they carry out their last public royal duty before they walk away from the monarchy.
But, unlike last year, Harry and Meghan will be conducted to their seats, rather than waiting for the Queen’s arrival and walking through the church with the monarch and key royals as they did last year.
The move signifies their impending exit from The Firm – dubbed Megxit.
From March 31, the monarch’s grandson and American former actress Meghan will no longer use their HRH styles as they pursue a new life of personal and financial freedom, mostly in North America.
Prince Harry sits in his position on a Spartan armoured vehicle in the Helmand province of southern Afghanistan in February 2008
The Sussexes will arrive after the Earl and Countess of Wessex, who will also be escorted to their seats.
The procession will include Charles and Camilla, William and Kate, clergy, Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the Commonwealth Secretary General, among others, according to the Order of Service.
In 2019, Harry and Meghan waited alongside William, Kate, Charles and Camilla for the Queen to arrive, before taking part in The Procession of The Queen.
The ceremony – the Sussexes’ final public outing in their UK farewell tour – is a poignant milestone as they prepare to embark on their future away from the royal family.
On March 31, Meghan will bow out of royal life just one year, 10 months and 12 days – or 682 days – after marrying into the family.
She spent almost five years longer appearing on screen in the US drama Suits.
The duchess, then Meghan Markle, starred as paralegal Rachel Zane between June 23 2011 and April 25 2018, totalling six years, 10 months and three days, or 2,499 days.
Prince Harry meets band members as they attend the Mountbatten Music Festival at the Royal Albert Hall in London on Saturday evening
The televised service at the Abbey is a key annual event in the calendar for the Queen, who is head of the Commonwealth.
But this year’s ceremony is likely to be remembered for being Harry and Meghan’s royal swansong.
Meghan spent more time in Suits than as a senior royal
Just one year, 10 months and 12 days – or 682 days – after marrying into The Firm, the Duchess of Sussex will be bowing out of royal life completely at the end of the month.
The American former actress spent almost five years longer appearing on screen in the US drama Suits.
Meghan Markle starred as paralegal Rachel Zane between June 23 2011 and April 25 2018, totalling six years, 10 months and three days, or 2,499 days.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are making their final official public appearance as senior royals at the Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey on Monday.
Meghan will have carried out a total of 185 official royal engagements as an HRH.
Figures are taken from the Court Circular, but also include her final run of public appearances and a known private engagement in the UK in 2020, which were not listed in the daily record of royal engagements, up until Megxit on March 31.
The duchess’s time as a senior royal included a period of maternity leave.
When the Duke of Edinburgh retired at the age of 96, he had amassed 22,219 solo official engagements since 1952, not including thousands of appearances with the Queen.
But Philip is married to the monarch, and Meghan’s husband Harry is only sixth in line.
A spokeswoman for the couple said, after their appearance at the Abbey, that the Sussexes will hold some private meetings, but there will be no further engagements.
Their role supporting the Queen and the monarchy through official appearances will be at an end.
The Queen has reportedly told her grandson that the couple are much loved by the royals and would be welcomed back into their roles if they change their minds.
Harry and Meghan are heading off to North America to earn their own money, where they are predicted to make millions through ventures such as acting, film or television, brand partnerships, public speaking, and perhaps even book deals.
Since their wedding, the Sussexes have carried out four joint overseas tours to Ireland, then Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and Tonga, followed by Morocco, and then South Africa.
Born a prince, Harry has spent his whole life as an HRH, but, after 35 years, six months and 16 days, from March 31, he will no longer use the style.
Their goodbye tour – a flurry of appearances in the UK – has including the Endeavour Fund Awards, a military musical festival at the Royal Albert Hall and Meghan’s secret visit to a school in Dagenham, east London, to celebrate International Women’s Day.
Tradition dictates that Harry, who is not a future king, sits with Meghan in the second row of seats behind the Queen, Charles, Camilla, William and Kate during the service.
The Commonwealth event will be the first time the duke and duchess have appeared with the royal family since their bombshell ‘Megxit’ announcement in January.
All eyes will be on how the Windsors, particularly the Cambridges and the Sussexes, interact, and the royals will all make their way to the Great West Door together at the end of the service.
William and Harry have faced a turbulent time following a rift that began ahead of Harry’s wedding to Meghan.
Harry said in an ITV documentary filmed during his Africa tour that he and his brother are on ‘different paths’ and have good and bad days in their relationship.
The Duke of York was at the service in 2019, accompanying the Queen as she arrived.
But he will be absent this year, having stepped down from public life following his disastrous Newsnight appearance over his friendship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.
Harry and Meghan last appeared alongside the royals four months ago on Remembrance Sunday at the Cenotaph in November.
Coverage of the service will be broadcast live on BBC One from 2.15pm, and across the BBC World Service.
The Queen in her Commonwealth Day message has praised the diversity of the family of nations whose blend of traditions ‘serves to make us stronger’.
In her annual message, the head of state highlighted how global connectivity makes people aware their ‘choices and actions’ can affect the ‘well-being of people and communities living far away’ – and inspires many to be more careful with natural resources.
International boxing champion and Olympic gold medallist Anthony Joshua will deliver a reflection, while singers Alexandra Burke and Craig David will perform.
Ahead of their wedding, Harry and Meghan highlighted the Commonwealth as a priority for their royal duties.
Harry said: ‘Both of us have passions for wanting to make change, change for good, and with lots of young people running around the Commonwealth, that’s where we’re going to spend most of our time hopefully.’
Stepping down as a working royal means Harry must leave his role as Commonwealth Youth Ambassador.
But he will remain president of the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust and Meghan will still be the Trust’s vice-president.
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