Sussexes will join Queen, Charles, William and Kate for last Royal engagement

2 March 2020, 16:36

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex. Picture: PA
Maddie Goodfellow

By Maddie Goodfellow

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex will join the Queen, the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge at the couple's final official engagement before they quit royal life.

Buckingham Palace gave further details of Harry and Meghan's appearance at the annual Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey next week.

It will be the first time the duke and duchess have appeared with the royal family since their bombshell "Megxit" announcement in January, and their last as senior royals.

Harry and Meghan caused a royal crisis by announcing they wanted to step back into a dual role, supporting the Queen and earning their own money.

But the plan was unworkable, and the couple are now dropping their HRH styles and stepping away from the monarchy completely, for a life mostly in North America, from March 31.

International boxing champion and Olympic gold medallist Anthony Joshua will deliver a reflection, while singers Alexandra Burke and Craig David will perform.

Guests of honour among the 2,000-strong congregation will include Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the Commonwealth secretary-general Baroness Scotland, high commissioners, ambassadors, faith leaders and more than 800 schoolchildren and young people.

The Queen and the royal family will meet people involved in the service and walk past the Commonwealth flag bearers as they leave.

Prince Charles will also be in attendance
Prince Charles will also be in attendance. Picture: PA

Meghan was pregnant with Archie Mountbatten-Windsor at the Commonwealth Day service last year - and just two months away from giving birth - when she and Harry joined the rest of The Firm at the high-profile event.

Tradition dictates that sixth-in-line Harry sits with Meghan in the second row of seats behind the Queen, Charles, Camilla, William and Kate during the service.

The duke and duchess were pictured standing alongside William and Kate in the gothic abbey last year, and royal watchers will be waiting to see how the couples interact at this year's service.

William and Harry have faced a turbulent time following a rift which began ahead of Harry's wedding to American former actress Meghan.

Harry admitted 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 at the Remembrance Day service at the Cenotaph in November, which followed the annual Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall the previous evening.

Meanwhile, security arrangements for the Sussexes are continuing to cause controversy, amid fears taxpayers will have to foot the bill for their close personal protection officers.
A poll by ITV's Good Morning Britain found 91% of people did not want UK taxpayers to pay for Harry, Meghan and Archie's security, out of nearly 15,000 people who voted on Twitter.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police confirmed last week it will stop providing protection for the Sussexes once they cease to be senior royals.

Some estimates put the security bill for Harry and Meghan's new life as high as £20 million a year, amid rising costs as they stay overseas, and when the couple and their son are all in different places.

Harry and Meghan's website has claimed they "require effective security to protect them" because Harry was "born into the royal family" and because Meghan has her "own independent profile".

Buckingham Palace does not comment on security matters, and neither they nor the Home Office has confirmed whether it will be the taxpayers or the Sussexes themselves who will have to pay for security.

Harry is already back in the UK carrying out a final run of engagements before "Megxit", and joined rock star Jon Bon Jovi at a charity record recording on Friday.

The duke and duchess's first joint event in the UK since announcing their decision to step down from royal duties will be on March 5 at the Endeavour Fund Awards.

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