Harry and Meghan join royals for jubilee service in honour of queen

Monarch (96) misses St Paul’s Cathedral event due to ‘discomfort’ and will not attend Epsom Derby

The British royal family has come together with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex in honour of Queen Elizabeth at a special jubilee service of thanksgiving.

Harry and Meghan joined the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge as nearly 40 royals gathered for the celebration in St Paul’s Cathedral in London. The high-profile event on Friday fell on the second day of the national commemorations marking the monarch’s milestone 70-year reign.

The 96-year-old queen was absent, watching on television from Windsor Castle instead, after she suffered “discomfort” following a busy first day of festivities including a double balcony appearance and a beacon lighting. Buckingham Palace confirmed she would not attend the Epsom Derby on Saturday but is expected to watch it from Windsor Castle.

It was the first time Harry and Meghan had been on full public view alongside the Windsors since they quit the monarchy for a new life in the US two years ago. Crowds cheered the pair as they arrived, with the couple smiling and waving, but both boos and cheers could be heard as they departed.

Indicative of their new, more-minor position within the royal family, they were seated in the second row from the front behind the Wessex family and the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, with Harry next to Princess Eugenie’s husband Jack Brooksbank and Meghan next to Princess Margaret’s daughter Lady Sarah Chatto.

Across the aisle was Harry’s father the Prince of Wales, representing the queen, and Duchess of Cornwall, in ornate chairs, and Harry’s brother the Duke of Cambridge and Duchess of Cambridge, the Princess Royal and her husband, Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence. The Sussexes attended the Trooping celebrations at Horse Guards on Thursday, but stayed out of the spotlight inside the Duke of Wellington’s former office with more than 30 members of the family.

More than 2,000 people filled the historic church including prime minister Boris Johnson, who was booed by the crowd outside, cabinet ministers, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, first ministers of the devolved governments and every living former prime minister.

There were smiles from the royals and ripples of laughter from the congregation as the Archbishop of York compared the monarch’s well-known love of horse racing to her long reign, suggesting it “reflects the distance of Aintree more than the sprints of Epsom”. The queen was, the Most Rev Stephen Cottrell said, “still in the saddle”, as he thanked her for “staying the course”.

“With endurance, through times of change and challenge, joy and sorrow, you continue to offer yourself in the service of our country and the commonwealth,” he said his sermon.

“Your Majesty, we’re sorry you’re not with us this morning, but we are so glad you are still in the saddle. And we are all glad that there is still more to come.”

Public service was the theme at the heart of the religious event, with 400 people who are recipients of honours, including National Health Service and key workers who were recognised for their work during the pandemic, invited.

Hundreds of people gathered, some wearing union flag hats and others hanging flags and bunting over the railings on the approach to the cathedral. — PA