The row that marred Fab Four’s final outing: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle ‘became emotional and upset’ about being dropped from Queen’s arrival party… forcing Prince William and Kate Middleton to step in to ‘defuse’ tension
- Harry and Meghan were upset to learn they would not be permitted to join the Queen, the Cornwalls and Cambridges in main VIP party, Daily Mail understands
- Instead they were told the’d have to make their own way to their seats at the front of the abbey before the arrival of other senior royals
- Fearing another highly public royal skirmish, William and Kate stepped in to defuse the situation at weekend
- Cambridges offered to join ’emotional’ Harry and Meghan as they waited for the Queen, Charles and Camilla to arrive
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s last engagement as senior royals was marred by behind-the-scenes tensions over protocol.
It had been agreed that Harry and Meghan’s attendance at yesterday’s Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey with other senior royals would be a fitting farewell.
But the Daily Mail understands the couple were upset to learn that they would not be permitted to join the Queen, the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in the main VIP party.
Instead they were told they would have to make their own way to their seats at the front of the abbey before the arrival of other senior royals, alongside the Earl and the Countess of Wessex.
Parting of the ways: The four royals at Westminster Abbey for the Commonwealth Service. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s last engagement as senior royals was marred by behind-the-scenes tensions over protocol
The cursory hello: A curt greeting for Harry and Meghan from William as he arrives with Kate. It had been agreed Harry and Meghan’s attendance at yesterday’s service with other senior royals would be a fitting farewell. But the Daily Mail understands the couple were upset to learn that they would not be permitted to join the Queen, the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in the main VIP party
Chat with Edward: William enjoys an animated conversation with his uncle as Kate and Sophie look on. Harry and Meghan were told they would have to make their own way to their seats at the front of the abbey before the arrival of other senior royals, alongside the Earl and the Countess of Wessex (above, with the Cambridges)
Fearing another highly public royal skirmish, William and Kate, it can be revealed, stepped in to defuse the situation at the weekend and offered to join ‘emotional’ Harry and Meghan as they waited for the Queen, Charles and Camilla to arrive.
But not before 2,000 orders of service had been signed off and printed which very clearly – and rather embarrassingly – placed the Cambridges firmly with the main royal party.
And it seems that their 11th-hour olive branch did not ease the ill-feeling between the feuding family.
Distant relatives: The Sussexes and Cambridges sit awkwardly apart as they await the procession. Fearing another highly public royal skirmish, William and Kate, it can be revealed, stepped in to defuse the situation at the weekend and offered to join ’emotional’ Harry and Meghan as they waited for the Queen, Charles and Camilla to arrive
Solemn: Harry appears preoccupied as the other royals wait for the Queen to arrive. Throughout yesterday’s service – one of the highlights of the Queen’s calendar – Harry, 35, appeared pensive and ill at ease. He and Meghan, who determinedly gave a mega-watt smile throughout, chatted animatedly with his uncle Prince Edward, who was seated on the same row
As the Cambridges arrived to take their seats, the duchess, 38, in a favourite red Catherine Walker coat and a matching hat, appeared to blank Harry and Meghan, while the two brothers exchanged only the most awkward of hellos. Although Harry greeted his brother William with a smile, there was little interaction between them.
Meghan, 38, dressed in an eye-catching emerald green Emelia Wickstead dress with a hat by William Chambers, bag by Gabriela Hearst and Aquazzura heels, was seen to say ‘hi’ and then ‘hello’ to William when he didn’t appear to see her the first time, with a somewhat rictus grin on her face.
The prince, 37, did greet her with a smile and a quick hello on the second occasion, however. It was not clear whether any further exchanges took place off camera.
Throughout yesterday’s service – one of the highlights of the Queen’s calendar – Harry, 35, appeared pensive and ill at ease.
He and Meghan, who determinedly gave a mega-watt smile throughout, chatted animatedly with his uncle Prince Edward, who was seated on the same row.
Camilla, 72, elegant in navy, appeared to try to ease matters when she and Charles arrived, turning to smile warmly and greet Harry and Meghan, who were on the row behind her.
(From left) The Queen; Prince Harry; Prince William; Meghan, Duchess of Sussex; Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall; Prince Edward; Prince William; Sophie, Countess of Wessex; and Kate, Duchess of Cambridge at Westminster Abbey
Prince William and Kate smile as they stand on the row in front of Meghan and Harry at the abbey
The Queen, Prince Harry, Prince Charles, the Duchess of Sussex and the Duchess of Cornwall at the service
William and Kate chat with Edward and Sophie as Harry and Meghan sit behind at Westminster Abbey
Meghan was seen to curtsey for both the Queen and the Prince of Wales when they took their seats.
The Sussexes clasped hands as they departed – in the same manner as they arrived – and could even be seen clutching each other in their official car as they sped away after the service to embark on their new life in North America.
Buckingham Palace last night attempted to put on a brave face, insisting there was ‘no set format for this annual service’ as it ‘depended on how many Members of the Royal Family are in attendance’. The Queen and senior royals are always the last to arrive and take part in a procession down to the front of the Abbey.
But the palace notably failed to address the issue of why the Cambridges were originally down in the official Order of Service to accompany the Queen, before changing their minds to take their seats ahead of the Queen’s arrival, alongside the Sussexes.
Prince Harry sits beside his wife Meghan as she chats with Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex (right) at Westminster Abbey
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex speak to schoolchildren as they leave after the Commonwealth Service on Monday
An aide said: ‘The Wessexes, Sussexes and Cambridges are all processing straight to their seats. The Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall and The Queen are in the procession.
‘It’s not unusual for Members of the Royal Family to be travelling in Commonwealth countries during Commonwealth week. There is no further comment.’
The decision not to include the Sussexes was made by the Queen’s office directly, led by her private secretary Edward Young.
Harry and Meghan were understood to be particularly hurt as although it was to be their last public engagement, they will not formally step down until March 31. Until then Harry still retains the title, given to him by the Queen, of Commonwealth Youth Ambassador – of which he has been stripped along with his other official duties, as part of his royal stand-down.
The Queen followed by the Prince of Wales, the Duke of Cambridge and the Duke of Sussex at the Commonwealth Service
The Duchess of Cambridge speaks to a young girl as she leaves after the Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey
The Duchess of Sussex speaks to schoolchildren as she leaves after the Commonwealth Service at the Abbey
Prince Harry smiles as he is introduced to performers as he leaves the church with other senior royals this afternoon
Queen Elizabeth II leaving after attending the Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey in London
He and Meghan will also retain strong links with the ‘family of nations’ because they will keep their roles as president and vice-president of the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust. The duchess will also retain her patronage of the Association of Commonwealth Universities which she took on last year.
‘It seems that they were quite sensitive and emotional about it,’ said one royal source.
Another insider added: ‘Although they are adamant about wanting to step down, they seem quite preoccupied with what status they will retain and the fact that Harry remains sixth in line to the throne, as they made a point of saying on their new website the other day.’
Last year the couple – Meghan pregnant with their now ten-month-old son Archie – took pride of place alongside the Queen and the other senior royals at the service, both in line with their status and their specific Commonwealth roles.
The Duchess of Sussex leaves after attending the annual Commonwealth Day Service at Westminster Abbey
The monarch, who is Head of the Commonwealth and sees its stewardship as one of the greatest successes of her reign, personally asked them to be her flag bearers as she believed they would connect well with its young people.
The Commonwealth’s 54 member countries have a combined population of more than two billion, of which more than 60 per cent are under 30 years of age.
As for the Sussexes, it is understood their office plans to make a number of announcements about their future lives in the coming weeks but they have no official engagements scheduled in between now and March 31, when they officially step down.
The couple’s Buckingham Palace office will officially close on April 1, with all 15 members of their staff, as previously revealed by the Mail, losing their jobs as Harry and Meghan pursue their independence – and commercial careers – abroad.
‘Not exactly the warm reunion we were hoping for’: Body language expert Judi James says Harry’s ‘tension was palpable’ as William fails to respond to his brother’s ‘weak, mouth-closed smile’
By AMIE GORDON for MailOnline
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry were today reunited with Prince William and Kate for the first time in four months – in what one body language expert described as ‘not exactly the warm reunion we were hoping for’.
The Sussexes and Cambridges came together, at the Queen’s Commonwealth Service in Westminster Abbey, for the first time since they paid their respects at a Remembrance Day service in November.
It is also the last time they will all be together before Harry and Meghan bow out of royal duties and embrace their new life in North America.
Prince Harry and Meghan walk behind the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, and Charles and Camilla, in Westminster Abbey after attending the annual Commonwealth Service. Body language expert Judi James says the reunion of the Sussexes and Cambridges was full of tension, with Prince William seemingly failing to greet his brother
Meghan and Harry beamed and laughed as William said something upon his entrance, as they took their seats in the High Altar. Meanwhile, Prince Edward partly rose to greet the Cambridges, but Sophie and the Sussexes remained seated. Ms James described the meeting between William and Kate and Harry and Meghan as a ‘rather odd greeting ritual’
Meghan was seen to mouth ‘hi’ and give a small wave to William and Kate, followed by a ‘hello’, as the Cambridges took their seats in the row in front of the Sussexes. Ms James says: ‘For William though there was a mouthed “hello” from Meghan but a weak, mouth-closed smile from Harry and no sign that William responded’
Meghan was seen to mouth ‘hi’ and give a small wave to William and Kate, followed by a ‘hello’, as the Cambridges took their seat in the High Altar in the row in front of the Sussexes. Harry also said ‘hello’ and smiled at his brother, who seemed to ignore him.
But according to body language expert Judi James, Harry’s ‘tension was palpable’ as William seemingly failed to greet his brother.
‘TENSE’ HARRY DISPLAYED SELF-COMFORTING GESTURES
‘It wasn’t the warm reunion that we were all hoping for,’ said Ms James.
‘The tension in Harry’s body language especially was palpable. When Harry arrived, the minute he and Meghan had to drop hands, he immediately reached for his wedding ring which is a self comfort.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex chatted as they awaited the arrival of the Queen. ‘Harry and Meghan looked a lot more genuinely cheerful, and Harry especially, through a really affectionate smile at Kate,’ Ms James said, before adding, ‘But when it was William, you could see Harry was slightly more rigid and his lips were closed’
‘Even when she was beside him after they had stopped holding hands, he was missing her, needing her support.’
She added: ‘As Harry walked up the aisle, they both waved at the children, but his face otherwise was quite tense and unsmiling.
AN ‘AWKWARD’ SIBLING REUNION
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex had walked in ahead of Prince William and Kate Middleton before Prince Charles and Camilla also arrived, and the Queen then made an entrance to trumpet fanfare and cheers from crowds outside.
Ms James claims the siblings appeared ‘awkward’ – with William seemingly failing to greet his younger brother.
While Prince Edward partly rose to greet the Cambridges, Sophie and the Sussexes remained seated.
Meghan later chatted animatedly to Edward as they waited for the Queen to arrive, with Harry joining in the conversation and putting his arm on the back of Meghan’s chair as he did so
‘Harry and Meghan looked a lot more genuinely cheerful, and Harry especially, through a really affectionate smile at Kate,’ Ms James told PA news agency.
‘As they took their seats Harry threw Kate an open-mouthed smile and “hello” of what looked like genuine pleasure and Meghan raised her brows and smiled in an equally friendly ritual.
‘But when it was William, you could see Harry was slightly more rigid and his lips were closed.’
HARRY ‘RELAXED’ WHEN WILLIAM AND OTHER ROYALS LEFT
Once William and Kate had driven away, Ms James said we saw ‘a different Harry altogether’.
STRAIN OF MEGXIT VISIBLE IN HARRY
Ms James said the tension appeared to grow in Harry’s signals after William took his seat in front of him.
‘While Meghan curtsied and flashed a friendly, warm smile of greeting to Charles and the Queen, Harry appeared to be fiddling with his programme and later he appeared to be tapping his programme on his knee during the actual service,’ she claimed.
‘His facial expression looked distant and his accelerated blinking even suggested he might have been fighting back tears sitting behind the backs of the heads of all the family members he would be saying goodbye to.
‘Harry’s jacket-pulling gesture of tension increased once the service was over and he stood behind the Cambridge’s to say goodbye to his hosts.
‘With the other royals gone Harry and Meghan became an animated, tactile double-act again, with Harry chatting to Craig David as though he was an old friend and Meghan even leaning forward to touch Anthony Joshua on the arm to congratulate him for his speech,’ she claimed.
‘Harry suddenly looked like a man reluctant to leave a party, throwing a thumbs up gesture to Joshua over his shoulder while Meghan touched Harry’s arm in what looked like a gesture of affection and steering.
‘Laughing and joking with the people outside, Harry’s relief looked so tangible that his sudden eyes to heaven and raised hands looked awfully like a signal of thanks.
‘He became animated and far more relaxed and holding Meghan’s hand again he looked like a man who felt he’s got the most difficult moments over and who could now return to being “Just Harry” again with his wife and son.’
Last year, Harry and Meghan waited alongside William, Kate, Charles and Camilla for the Queen to arrive, before taking part in ‘The Procession of The Queen’.
This year, however, neither couple took part in the procession and simply made their way to their seats after greeting dignitaries.
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.
She added: ‘Meghan even leaned forward to touch Anthony Joshua on the arm to congratulate him for his speech’. Above, the Duchess of Sussex speaks with the heavyweight boxer in the Abbey
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