By DANICA KIRKA – Associated Press
LONDON (AP) — Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, joined other members of the British royal family on Friday at a church service in honor of Queen Elizabeth II’s 70-year reign.
The Queen herself skipped the event at St Paul’s Cathedral in London due to travel difficulties which have limited the 96-year-old monarch’s public engagements in recent months.
But royal watchers quickly focused on Harry and Meghan as they made their first public appearance at festivities marking the Platinum Jubilee.
Harry and Meghan, who gave up their royal duties and moved to California two years ago, kept a low profile during Jubilee events held on Thursday, the first of four days of celebrations. The couple only appeared in photographs taken through the building’s windows from which members of the Royal Family watched the Queen’s birthday parade.
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The couple took on a more public role on Friday, entering the church alone, holding hands and walking down the cathedral’s long nave in front of older royals. People inside the church craned their necks to watch.
The Service of Thanksgiving takes place on the second of four days of festivities celebrating the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. On Thursday, thousands of royal supporters cheered wildly as the Queen joined other royals on the balcony of Buckingham Palace to watch 70 British military planes fly by.
The Queen decided not to attend Friday’s church service after feeling “some unease” during Thursday’s events. She will watch the event unfold on television as Prince Charles replaces her.
The St. Paul’s congregation includes members of the royal family, high-ranking politicians, diplomats and more than 400 essential workers, charity volunteers and members of the armed forces who have been invited in recognition of their service to the community .
Archbishop of York Stephen Cottrell is due to deliver a sermon. Cottrell stepped in after Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby tested positive for COVID-19. The service will begin and end with the sound of the Great Paul, Britain’s largest church bell.
Follow AP’s coverage of Queen Elizabeth II at https://apnews.com/hub/queen-elizabeth-ii
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