LONDON — The most eagerly anticipated guests at Friday’s thanksgiving service arrived well before the senior members of the royal family. Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, walked into St. Paul’s Cathedral shortly after 11 a.m., turning every head in the vaulting nave as the couple walked, hand in hand, to their seats.
In the meticulous choreography of royal ceremonies, there was nothing accidental about their highly visible arrival. The couple, also known as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, were given their own moment, drawing a loud cheer from the crowd gathered outside St. Paul’s and the rapt attention of everyone seated inside.
It was the first official royal outing for Harry and Meghan since early March 2020, when they attended a service for the British Commonwealth at Westminster Abbey, shortly before decamping Britain for Canada, and later, Southern California. That service was memorable for the palpably chilly atmosphere between Harry; his brother, Prince William; and their father, Prince Charles. The three barely acknowledged one another.
Harry and Meghan no longer have a formal role as senior royals, a diminished status evident in the very different entrances made by Charles and William after the couple had taken their seats.
As the two princes made their formal entrance at St. Paul’s, proceeding through the nave with their wives, BBC’s cameras did not capture any interaction between them and Harry or Meghan. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex were seated a couple of rows behind the senior family members.