Prince Harry and his wife Meghan were greeted with applause and jeers as they joined the royal family at a thanksgiving service for Queen Elizabeth on Friday. This was their first public appearance in Britain since leaving royal duties.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, ages 37 and 40, joined other senior royals at the ceremony at London’s St Paul’s Cathedral, the latest event in the Platinum Jubilee festivities commemorating the queen’s 70 years on the throne
The couple came to the United States two years ago in order to pursue a more independent lifestyle. They currently reside in a California house with their two young children, Archie and Lilibet, who was named after her great-grandmother, Queen Elizabeth.
Harry and Meghan have become polarising characters in Britain, with some Britons and numerous media sites criticising their move and economic activities, such as signing a partnership with global streaming giant Netflix, while others view them as a breath of fresh air for the tradition-bound monarchy.
As they headed to their places in the cathedral on Friday, they were greeted with loud cheers and boos, as the congregation’s eyes were firmly riveted on them.
The couple, who said they were “thrilled and honoured” to attend the Platinum Jubilee celebrations, made headlines with an explosive Oprah Winfrey interview in March of last year, in which Meghan, who is biracial, accused an unidentified royal of racism and Harry said his family had cut them off financially.
Since then, their relationship with the other royals, particularly Harry’s older brother Prince William, has been chilly. Since the Oprah interview, Harry’s criticisms of his family have continued, and there was little evident interaction between the brothers at Friday’s service.
Harry is involved in a legal fight with the British government, which will not permit him to pay for police protection while he is in the country. Although Charles came to Britain for the death of his grandpa Prince Philip, the queen’s husband, in April of last year, he was unable to attend a subsequent memorial ceremony due to security concerns.
Nonetheless, the pair saw the queen at Windsor Castle in April, on their first private trip to the United Kingdom since leaving their royal duties. A palace source stated that Harry, Meghan, and his children were “beloved family members.”
According to media sources, the 96-year-old queen, who was unable to attend the service on Friday due to her chronic mobility challenges, met Lilibet for the first time on Thursday. However, a royal insider condemned this as pure guesswork.
Harry stated that he had withdrawn from royal duties because the “poison” British press was harming his mental health, and he and Meghan, who have successfully sued one tabloid and refuse to engage with others, have become figures of contempt and scorn for other tabloids.
This week, a YouGov poll indicated that the couple’s popularity with the public had reached a new low, with Harry receiving a net favourability score of -26 and Meghan receiving a score of -42.
The only royal with a lower score was Prince Andrew, who in February paid to resolve a U.S. case in which he was accused of sexually abusing a minor.
However, several royal enthusiasts gathering outside St. Paul’s stated that seeing the pair would be a delight.
Bella Bigord, age 13, stated, “It’s good to see individuals of colour because it demonstrates more diversity, and I believe that will help make the world a better place.”