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Prince Harry and Meghan Markle put on a friendly display with Duke’s cousins

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Prince Harry and Meghan Markle may have so far avoided a frosty public appearance with Prince William and Kate Middleton – but today the couple made it clear there are members of the royal family with whom they remain friendly with.

The 37-year-old Duke, wearing a black suit adorned with military medals and a silver tie, and Duchess of Sussex left their children Archie, three, and Lilibet, nearly one, behind to attend the National Service of Thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral today.

They took seats alongside his cousins Princesses Eugenie and Beatrice and their respective husbands, Jack Brooksbank, 36, and Edo Mapelli Mozzi, 38 – and Harry couldn’t resist larking around in the pews of St Paul’s, sharing a joke with his cousin’s husband  Jack Brooksbank. 

Prince Harry and banker Brooksbank were spotted giggling ahead of the historic service, with Princess Eugenie, dressed in a striking orange dress, appearing to also stifle a laugh. 

Earlier this year, Princess Eugenie became the first member of the Royal Family to make a public visit to Prince Harry in California, two years after he quit as a senior royal, and it’s thought the two couples share a close bond. 

Later, after leaving the service, Harry and Meghan, wearing a cream coat dress with a matching hat and shoes, was seen sharing a laugh with his cousin Zara Tindall.

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Prince Harry, 37, and Meghan Markle, 40, put on a very friendly display with the Duke’s cousins as they attended the service at St Paul’s Cathedral today 

Meanwhile the Duke took his seat next to Princess Eugenie's husband Jack Brooksbank, 36, at St Paul's Cathedral for the National Service of Thanksgiving - and the pair appeared to be getting on famously, with Princess Eugenie looking like she was stifling a giggle ahead of the commemorative service.

Meanwhile the Duke took his seat next to Princess Eugenie’s husband Jack Brooksbank, 36, at St Paul’s Cathedral for the National Service of Thanksgiving – and the pair appeared to be getting on famously, with Princess Eugenie looking like she was stifling a giggle ahead of the commemorative service.

Still a joker! Prince Harry, wearing a black suit adorned with military medals and a silver tie, offered an open-mouthed grin to a familiar face in the next pew, as Princess Eugenie, also smiling, also offered a cheery hello to the guest

Still a joker! Prince Harry, wearing a black suit adorned with military medals and a silver tie, offered an open-mouthed grin to a familiar face in the next pew, as Princess Eugenie, also smiling, also offered a cheery hello to the guest 

After leaving the service, the royal couple put on a friendly display with both Zara Tindall and her brother Peter Philips

Meghan appeared to beam as she stood alongside Zara

And after leaving the service, the royal couple put on a friendly display with both Zara Tindall and her brother Peter Philips (left). 

Prince Harry and Meghan are also close to Zara, Princess Anne’s daughter, and her husband Mike – although they are not believed to have visited the couple in their new home in LA. The Duke is even godfather to the couple’s youngest daughter, Lena. 

Harry, along with his brother William, were were raised in Gloucestershire, just a few miles from where Zara and her brother Peter Phillips grew up.

The four royal cousins were often spotted chatting and joking at royal events, with William previously revealing how it was ‘hard to keep a straight face’ when sitting opposite his cousins in church.

The bond between cousins is particularly close for members of the Royal Family, who might struggle to let outsiders into their inner circle.

Such is the closeness between the cousins that they are all part of a WhatsApp group where they exchange messages on upcoming events and family news. 

Harry and Meghan had to squeeze past his cousins Beatrice and Eugenie, who were already seated, to get to their places in the Cathedral. 

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex arriving for the Service of Thanksgiving at St Paul's Cathedral this morning. Meghan, 40, was the picture of poise in a cream coat dress and matching hat and shoes as she joined senior royals in her first public engagement with the family in two years

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex arriving for the Service of Thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral this morning. Meghan, 40, was the picture of poise in a cream coat dress and matching hat and shoes as she joined senior royals in her first public engagement with the family in two years

Harry and Meghan had to squeeze past his cousins Beatrice and Eugenie, who were already seated, to get to their places

Harry and Meghan had to squeeze past his cousins Beatrice and Eugenie, who were already seated, to get to their places 

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (left, circled) sit across the aisle from the Sussexes (right, circled) at St Paul's today

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (left, circled) sit across the aisle from the Sussexes (right, circled) at St Paul’s today

Later, the Prince was spotted, with his mouth open, appearing to be enjoying a joke with another royal seated across the aisle. Beatrice, sitting a few seats down, was also grinning in the same direction.

Meanwhile, the Duchess of Sussex, in a cream coat dress and matching hat and shoes, chatted to Lady Sarah Chatto, the Queen’s niece, ahead of the historic ceremony. 

The Duchess of Sussex put on a typically glamorous display as she arrived with Prince Harry. Meghan, 40, was the picture of poise in a cream coat dress and matching hat and shoes as she joined senior royals in her first public engagement with the family in two years.

The couple were last seen with The Firm at the frosty Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey in March 2020, shortly before they officially stepped down as senior royals.

But it was a far more relaxed affair on Friday morning, with the couple smiling broadly as they arrived at the London cathedral ahead of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

Prince Harry looks up at St Paul's Cathedral in London this morning as he celebrates his grandmother's Platinum Jubilee

Prince Harry looks up at St Paul’s Cathedral in London this morning as he celebrates his grandmother’s Platinum Jubilee

Back in the fold? The Duke and Duchess of Sussex looked to be enjoying the occasion as they chatted to fellow royals seated around them (Pictured from right: Lady Sarah Chatto, the Sussexes, Jack Brooksbank, Princess Eugenie, bottom row from left, the Duke of Kent, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, Prince Edward and Sophie Wessex's son James, Viscount Severn)

Back in the fold? The Duke and Duchess of Sussex looked to be enjoying the occasion as they chatted to fellow royals seated around them (Pictured from right: Lady Sarah Chatto, the Sussexes, Jack Brooksbank, Princess Eugenie, bottom row from left, the Duke of Kent, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, Prince Edward and Sophie Wessex’s son James, Viscount Severn)

As the service began, Prince Harry looked more contemplative; his wife Meghan had been chatting to Lady Sarah Chatto, the Queen's niece, ahead of the historic ceremony

As the service began, Prince Harry looked more contemplative; his wife Meghan had been chatting to Lady Sarah Chatto, the Queen’s niece, ahead of the historic ceremony 

The couple were last seen with The Firm at the frosty Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey in March 2020, shortly before they officially stepped down as senior royals

The couple were last seen with The Firm at the frosty Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey in March 2020, shortly before they officially stepped down as senior royals 

Meghan and Harry were greeted on the steps of St Paul’s by the Lord Mayor of London and held hands as they took their seats beside Princess Eugenie, Princess Beatrice, and their husbands.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arrived in a separate car a short time later, avoiding any potentially tense interaction between the foursome.

Although the Queen is absent at today’s service after experiencing ‘discomfort’ following yesterday’s Trooping the Colour, senior royals, the Lord Mayor of London, politicians – including the Prime Minister and wife Carrie – celebrities and key community figures gathered for the historic service to honour the Queen’s reign. 

Prince Charles is officially representing the Queen at the service after she was forced to pull out last night, and there will also be no appearance from Prince Andrew after he tested positive for coronavirus. 

Political guests arrived ahead of the royals, including former prime minister Sir Tony Blair and his wife Cherie, followed by other ex-prime ministers Gordon Brown, Theresa May and David Cameron, and their spouses.

Carefully timed: The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arrived in a separate car a short time after Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, avoiding any potentially tense interaction between the foursome

Carefully timed: The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arrived in a separate car a short time after Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, avoiding any potentially tense interaction between the foursome

Return to royal life: The Duke and Duchess of Sussex were greeted at the Great West Door by the Dean of St Paul's this morning

Return to royal life: The Duke and Duchess of Sussex were greeted at the Great West Door by the Dean of St Paul’s this morning

The couple were pictured smiling broadly at well-wishers as they arrived for the second day of Jubilee events

The couple were pictured smiling broadly at well-wishers as they arrived for the second day of Jubilee events 

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex pictured walking into St Paul's Cathedral in London for the service of thanksgiving this morning

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex pictured walking into St Paul’s Cathedral in London for the service of thanksgiving this morning

Members of the public gather outside St Paul's Cathedral in London this morning ahead of the service of thanksgiving

Members of the public gather outside St Paul’s Cathedral in London this morning ahead of the service of thanksgiving

Wellwishers wait for the arrival of the Royal Family ahead of the Service of Thanksgiving at St Paul's Cathedral this morning

Wellwishers wait for the arrival of the Royal Family ahead of the Service of Thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral this morning

Ex-prime minister David Cameron and his wife Samantha arrive for the Service of Thanksgiving at St Paul's Cathedral today

Ex-prime minister David Cameron and his wife Samantha arrive for the Service of Thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral today

Former prime ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown arrive for the Service of Thanksgiving held at St Paul's Cathedral today

Former prime ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown arrive for the Service of Thanksgiving held at St Paul’s Cathedral today

Where and when can I watch the Platinum Jubilee celebrations? 

Here is a rundown of what will happen today and for the next two days as the nation pays tribute to the Queen’s 70 years as sovereign during the Platinum Jubilee weekend, and where to watch the events on television.

TODAY 

  • 12.25pm – Members of the royal family attend a Guildhall reception hosted by the Lord Mayor

TOMORROW 

  • The Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s daughter Lilibet celebrates her first birthday.
  • Senior royals tour the UK, with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visiting Cardiff Castle to meet stars ahead of a jubilee concert, the Princess Royal taking part in an animal-handling session at Edinburgh Zoo and the Earl and Countess of Wessex travelling to Northern Ireland.
  • 4.30pm – The Epsom Derby takes place. Avid racegoer the Queen is no longer planning to attend, although members of the royal family are expected to be there. Ed Chamberlin presents racing coverage on ITV from 12.40pm. A guard of honour, made of up to 40 of the Queen’s past and present jockeys, is due to line the course.
  • 7.40pm – Royals arrive at the BBC’s Platinum Party at the Palace concert. Coverage begins on BBC One from 7.30pm with Kirsty Young in St James’s Park, and Roman Kemp backstage.
  • 8pm-10.30pm – The open-air show in front of the palace, features stars including Queen + Adam Lambert, Alicia Keys, Duran Duran and Diana Ross.

SUNDAY

  • Street parties and Big Jubilee Lunches are staged across the country.
  • Coverage begins on BBC One from 1pm with commentary from Clare Balding, while Kirsty Young, AJ Odudu, Anita Rani, Anton Du Beke, Sophie Morgan and Owain Wyn Evans report on street parties across the UK.
  • The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall join a flagship feast at The Oval cricket ground in south London, while Edward and Sophie meet people creating the ‘Long Table’ down on The Long Walk leading up to Windsor Castle.
  • 2.30pm-5pm – The Jubilee Pageant takes place in central London, with a 3km carnival procession featuring a cast of thousands including puppets, celebrities and tributes to the seven decades of the Queen’s reign.
  • It will move from Horse Guards, along Whitehall to Admiralty Arch, and down The Mall to the Palace.
  • The finale will feature Ed Sheeran performing and singing the national anthem with close to 200 national treasures in front of the Queen’s official residence.
  • It is hoped the Queen will make a balcony appearance as the festivities come to a close.
  • At 8pm on BBC Two, Kirsty Young looks back at the weekend of celebrations.

Soon after, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon arrived with her husband, and Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer. 

Members of the Royal Navy, British Army and Royal Air Force lined up on either side of the Great West Door.

The 96-year-old Queen missed today’s service at St Paul’s following a last-minute decision announced by the Palace at 7.30pm last night after she experienced ‘discomfort’ during the Trooping The Colour events. 

She is understood to have suffered episodic mobility issues yesterday – and, in a statement, the Palace revealed the Queen ‘greatly enjoyed’ her birthday parade and flypast but ‘did experience some discomfort’. 

It said: ‘Taking into account the journey and activity required to participate in tomorrow’s National Service of Thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral, Her Majesty, with great reluctance, has concluded that she will not attend.’

It is understood the decision ahead of the service was considered regrettable but sensible due to the length of the journey and time involved and the physical demands the service would require.

The Queen met her great-granddaughter Lilibet for the first time yesterday after Prince Harry and Meghan Markle had lunch with the monarch and senior royals behind closed doors as part of the Platinum Jubilee celebrations.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex introduced their little girl to the Queen – nicknamed Lilibet as a child – yesterday at Windsor after attending a private Royal Family lunch at Buckingham Palace following Trooping the Colour.

Harry and Meghan are expected to remain mostly low-profile over the four-day Jubilee weekend, with no sign of the Netflix cameras that followed them around at the Invictus Games in the Netherlands in April. But they will attend today’s Service of Thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral – their first joint royal engagement in two years.

The Sussexes, who are staying at Frogmore Cottage in Windsor while visiting from California, were not allowed on the Buckingham Palace balcony yesterday and instead watched proceedings from Horse Guards Parade.

The order of service for today's Service of Thanksgiving at St Paul's Cathedral in London which begins at 11.30am today

The order of service for today’s Service of Thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral in London which begins at 11.30am today

Queen pulls out of St Paul’s service in latest absence due to mobility 

The Platinum Jubilee Service of Thanksgiving is the latest in a run of events the Queen has had to pull out of for mobility reasons.

Royal doctors will have been keeping a close eye on the elderly monarch as she embarked on the weekend of festivities.

The Prince of Wales will officially represent his mother at the service at St Paul’s Cathedral today after she experienced ‘discomfort’ during yesterday’s celebrations. It is understood the decision was considered regrettable but sensible due to the length of the journey and time involved and the physical demands the event would require.

In recent months, the 96-year-old monarch has been absent from a series of major engagements including the State Opening of Parliament.

While she made a number of in-person visits in the weeks leading up to her Jubilee celebrations, including a surprise visit to open the Elizabeth line and to tour the Chelsea Flower Show using a golf buggy, the Queen has faced ongoing ‘episodic mobility problems’, stretching back to last autumn, and now uses a walking stick.

She flew to Balmoral last week, taking the opportunity to rest during a short break ahead of the high-profile national events.

In October 2021, she used a walking stick at a Westminster Abbey service – the first time she had done so at a major engagement. A week later, after a busy autumn programme, she was ordered to rest by her doctors and advised to cancel a trip to Northern Ireland.

The Queen was secretly admitted to hospital for ‘preliminary investigations’ and had her first overnight stay in hospital for eight years on October 20, 2021. The next day she was back at her desk at Windsor, carrying out light duties.

But concern for her health mounted when she pulled out of more high-profile engagements, including the Cop26 climate change summit and the Festival of Remembrance, with Buckingham Palace saying she had been advised to continue to rest and to not carry out any official visits.

She was intent on attending the Remembrance Sunday service at the Cenotaph, but missed this due to a sprained back. For more than three months she carried out only light duties, including virtual and face-to-face audiences in the confines of Windsor Castle.

In February 2022, she celebrated her Platinum Jubilee, meeting charity workers at Sandringham House and cutting a Jubilee cake in what was her largest in-person public engagement since October.

Many of her duties are now carried out via video calls, and the country’s longest-reigning sovereign remarked during a in-person audience in February: ‘Well, as you can see, I can’t move.’

There were fears for her health when she finally caught Covid, testing positive on February 20, 2022. The triple-vaccinated Queen suffered from mild cold-like symptoms, but said the virus left her ‘very tired and exhausted’. She carried on with light duties while self-isolating at Windsor, but cancelled some virtual audiences.

She pulled out of the Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey in March, a significant date in the royal calendar given the importance to her of the family of nations, and did not attend the Maundy Thursday service.

But she rallied to honour the Duke of Edinburgh at a memorial service at the end of March, walking slowly and carefully with the aid of a stick, and holding on to the Duke of York’s elbow for support.

In May 2022, she missed the State Opening of Parliament for the first time in nearly 60 years, with Buckingham Palace attributing her absence to ‘episodic mobility problems’.

The Prince of Wales and the Duke of Cambridge opened parliament on her behalf as Counsellors of State, with Charles reading the Queen’s Speech for a historic first time. 

Much has changed in the past seven months, with Buckingham Palace mostly only confirming the Queen’s attendance at engagements on the day, with the decision dependent on how she is feeling in the morning.

The Queen did go to the Windsor Horse Show in May and she was also the guest of honour at the equestrian extravaganza A Gallop Through History near Windsor, the first major event of the Jubilee festivities.

She also made a surprise appearance to officially open the Elizabeth line at Paddington Station, looking bright and cheery, but with her visit limited to just 10 minutes. She also turned up at the Chelsea Flower Show, and was driven around the floral extravaganza in her new hi-tech golf buggy for her comfort.

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