The Duke and Duchess of Sussex returned to the royal fold for the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations – but their relegated seats were a telling sign of their change in status.
Far across the aisle from the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Harry and Meghan sat in the second row, behind the Wessex family and the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester.
Working royals filled the front-row chairs, meaning there was no place there for Harry and Meghan in the prime positions.
They no longer use their HRH styles and the event was their first public appearance alongside the Windsors since they stepped down as senior royals two years ago amid the Megxit storm.
They did however make a solo procession, holding each other’s hand, down the nave of St Paul’s Cathedral, after the rest of the mass of more than 40 royals and before future king Charles and the Cambridges.
They were personally escorted by Lieutenant Colonel Sir Alexander Matheson of Matheson, the Queen’s Senior Gentleman Usher.
With little happening at grand choreographed royal occasions by chance, it appeared to be a recognition of Harry’s place as sixth in line and a former spare to the heir and of the way things used to be.
Meghan, in an elegant Dior trench coat and matching hat, smiled as she walked through the church, while Harry bit his lip at times, while also nodding greetings to members of the congregation.
There was no obvious interaction shown on the television camera between Harry and his brother William, who have long faced a rift, nor the duke and Charles who have also had a troubled relationship, or between Meghan and Kate.
Just over a year ago, Harry and Meghan accused an unnamed member of the royal family, not the Queen nor the Duke of Edinburgh, of racism and painted the monarchy as an uncaring institution in their controversial Oprah interview.
Kate was publicly singled out by Meghan for allegedly making her cry in the run-up to her wedding.
Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall meanwhile greeted William and Kate by blowing them a kiss as they met at the West Entrance.
Former BBC royal correspondent Peter Hunt reflected: “For the briefest of moments, Harry and Meghan were back being active Windsors.
“The institution didn’t crumble. The royals need them, but are unlikely to acknowledge what they’ve lost given the hurt felt by all sides.”
There was a throwback to the Harry royal fans know and love.
The duke jokingly pulled an open mouthed face at other members of his family across the aisle, most likely his cousin Zara Tindall and her husband, former rugby player Mike.
He was also seen laughing as he sat next to Princess Eugenie’s husband Jack Brooksbank, who appeared red in the face as he chuckled.
He also appeared to make Meghan giggle as he gazed at his wife while they sat side by side the historic venue.
Harry and Meghan had to squeeze past his cousins Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie and their husbands Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi Mr Brooksbank, who were already seated, to get to their places.
As they waited, Meghan affectionately placed her hand on Harry’s back.
The former Suits star was sat next Princess Margaret’s daughter Lady Sarah Chatto, who is close to her aunt the Queen, and the pair chatted before the service began.
It was the monarch’s granddaughter Zara, dressed in vibrant pink, who took on the task of offering the pair one of their warmest greetings, on the cathedral steps after the service.
As Harry and Meghan happily spoke with the Tindalls and the duke’s other cousin Peter Phillips, Harry did a little shimmy and Zara appeared to point out where the Sussexes’ car was.
Crowds gathered outside both cheered and booed as the Queen’s grandson and the former Suits star departed.
In 2012 for the Diamond Jubilee, Harry had taken pride of place in the front row for service in St Paul’s marking his grandmother 60th year on the throne.
Much has changed since then, with Harry wedding American actress Meghan in a glittering royal wedding in 2018, followed by their troubled departure in 2020.
The mass gathering of nearly 50 royals including Harry and Meghan was invited to a special celebratory reception at the Guildhall afterwards.
But the Sussexes, who were thought to have returned to their Frogmore Cottage base, chose not to attend, as did the Princess Royal, who carried on with her royal duties, feeding penguins on a visit to Edinburgh Zoo.
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