Prince Harry and Meghan Markle occupied highly visible spots at the state funeral for Queen Elizabeth II on Monday—despite their decision to step down from their positions as senior royals.
When Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, chose to break from the royal family in March 2021, they relinquished the duties, income, and security protection that comes with being “working” royals. Harry was a decorated veteran of the British Military for over ten years. However, he gave up his military titles.
Their presence at the funeral was not a surprise, but there were subtle references in how they appeared.
Here’s how they took part and what their positions signified.
Is it possible to find Prince Harry or Meghan Markle at the funeral?
During Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral at Westminster Abbey, the palace seated Harry and Meghan directly behind Harry’s father, King Charles III, and the Queen Consort Camilla. Other members of the royal family were present right next to the high altar.
Their royal status was the reason they were relegated to the second row, near their cousins Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie—the children of the Queen’s son Prince Andrew. Prince William, the heir apparent, and Princess Katherine, the Princess of Wales were seated in front row, with their oldest children Prince George (9 years old) and Princess Charlotte (7 years old), across an aisle from King and Queen.
Princess Anne, the Queen’s only daughter, was next to Camilla in the front row with her husband. Peter Phillips, Anne’s first son and the Queen’s eldest grandson, sat further down that first row, near William and Kate. Phillips is 17th on the current line of succession.
Prince Harry is the son the king and fifth in line—behind his older brother William and all three of William’s children.
Britain’s Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, stand behind King Charles III and Camilla, Queen Consort, before the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II during the State Funeral of Queen Elizabeth II, held at Westminster Abbey, in London England, on Sept. 19, 2022.
Dominic Lipinski—Pool/Getty Images
Why wasn’t Prince Harry in uniform?
Harry was a British soldier for ten years. He served in Afghanistan twice and reached the rank of Captain in the British Army. However, Harry gave up all three titles of military officer in 2021 to his family as part of an agreement. He moved from the UK to California when he had stopped working for The Royal Family.
Many Royals wore uniforms, including Prince William, Prince Charles III and Princess Anne. Harry, however, wore a suit and tie to the event.
Buckingham Palace requested that he not be dressed in uniform as he is no longer considered a working prince. Similarly, Queen Elizabeth II’s second son, Prince Andrew—who was forced to step back from royal duties over his relationship with sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein—was also barred from wearing his military uniform.
Perhaps ironically, Harry and Andrew are the only members of the Queen’s closest family to have served in a war zone. Although Prince William and King Charles III served in military service, they never saw combat.
Peter Phillips (L), Britain’s Prince Harry (centre left), Britain’s Prince William (bottom left), Britain’s Earl of Snowdon, (C), and Britain’s Meghan, Duchess Of Sussex (R), leave the Abbey during the State Funeral Service of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II at Westminster Abbey, London, September 19, 2022.
Ben Stansall—Pool/AFP/Getty Images
Was Meghan Markle present during the funeral procession, or was she elsewhere?
In somber processions to and from Westminster Abbey, Prince Harry walked alongside senior members of the Queen’s household (who were mostly male, with Queen Elizabeth II’s daughter Princess Anne the most notable exception), including King Charles III and Prince William. While Meghan Markle did not follow the Queen’s coffin on foot, she did have an official position as part of the motorcade.
Meghan shared a car with Sophie, the Countess of Wessex, who became a close adviser to the Queen after she married Prince Edward, Elizabeth II’s youngest son. The pair also shared a vehicle earlier this week as they traveled to Queen Elizabeth’s II lying-in-state. The pair rode with Queen Consort Camilla as well as Kate Middleton on Monday.
Meghan was thoughtfully given earrings by the queen. Both pearls and diamonds have been favored for mourning occasions by royals. The quiet elegance of colorless stones makes them both more appealing.
Britain’s Sophie, Countess of Wessex (L), and Meghan the Duchess of Sussex, are seen behind the coffin of Queen Elizabeth 2, adorned by a Royal Standard, the Imperial State Crown, as well as pulled by a Gun Carrier of The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery during a procession that took them from Buckingham Palace in London to the Palace of Westminster.
Marco Bertorello—AFP/Getty Images
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