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Queen’s Platinum Jubilee: Meghan Markle makes a showstopping return to royal duties

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The Duchess of Sussex put on a showstopping display as she made her first royal appearance in two years at Trooping the Colour. 

Meghan Markle, 40, joined her husband Prince Harry, 37, and royals including the Duchess of Cambridge and the Duchess of Cornwall to watch the spectacular military event from the Major General’s Office overlooking the Whitehall parade ground.

The Duchess, who has travelled to the UK with her children Archie, three, and Lilibet, one, stepped out in an elegant navy blue dress and a dramatic wide-brimmed white hat with an oversized navy bow by British milliner Stephen Jones.

The mother-of-two was spotted entertaining Peter Phillips’ daughters Savannah, 11, and Isla, 10, and Mike and Zara Tindall’s girls Mia, eight, and Lena, three, as they grew bored of watching the military display. 

Meghan pouted, gasped and beamed as she put on an animated display in the window, with Princess Beatrice’s husband Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi watching from behind. At one point the Duchess put a finger to her mouth to ‘shush’ cheeky Mia Tindall, who was on typically boisterous behaviour.

The Duchess of Sussex put on a showstopping display as she made her first royal appearance in two years at Trooping the Colour

Meghan Markle, 40, joined her husband Prince Harry, 37, and senior royal family members to watch the spectacular military event from the Major General's Office overlooking the Whitehall parade ground

Meghan Markle, 40, joined her husband Prince Harry, 37, and senior royal family members to watch the spectacular military event from the Major General’s Office overlooking the Whitehall parade ground

The Duchess of Sussex put on an animated display with Savannah Phillips (left), her sister Isla (behind) and Lena Tindall

The Duchess of Sussex put on an animated display with Savannah Phillips (left), her sister Isla (behind) and Lena Tindall 

Prince Harry and the Duchess of Sussex were seen speaking to the Queen's cousin the Duke of Kent during Trooping the Colour

Prince Harry and the Duchess of Sussex were seen speaking to the Queen’s cousin the Duke of Kent during Trooping the Colour 

Prince Louis salutes as he watches Trooping the Colour with Princess Charlotte on a balcony at Horse Guards Parade today

Prince Louis salutes as he watches Trooping the Colour with Princess Charlotte on a balcony at Horse Guards Parade today

Princess Charlotte, Prince George, Princess Beatrice and Prince Louis watch Trooping the Colour from a balcony today

Princess Charlotte, Prince George, Princess Beatrice and Prince Louis watch Trooping the Colour from a balcony today

Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis watch Trooping the Colour in London this afternoon

Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis watch Trooping the Colour in London this afternoon

Crowds of people line The Mall as they watch members of the Royal Family appear on the Buckingham Palace balcony today

Crowds of people line The Mall as they watch members of the Royal Family appear on the Buckingham Palace balcony today

Meghan and Harry joined a large royal group including all grandchildren of the Queen and their spouses to watch Trooping the Colour.

As well as the Sussexes, there were Princess Beatrice and her husband Edo, Princess Eugenie and her husband Jack and Anne’s children, Peter Phillips and Zara Tindall, and their families. 

The group did not include the Queen, the Prince of Wales, the Duke of Cambridge or the Princess Royal. 

Her Majesty remained at Buckingham Palace where she took the returning cavalry’s salute from the balcony.

Charles took the salute as the Colour of the 1st Battalion Irish Guards was trooped and inspected the Troops of the Household Division on the monarch’s behalf. He was joined by his elder son Prince William and sister Princess Anne, with all three on horseback. 

Prince Andrew has been entirely cut out of proceedings and will not appear during any part of the day.

Four days of Platinum Jubilee celebrations kicked off this morning with the Queen’s birthday parade, which took place ahead of Trooping the Colour. 

Three carriages left the forecourt of Buckingham Palace carrying members of the Royal Family down The Mall, with the Duchess of Cornwall riding alongside Kate Middleton and her children in the first carriage.

George, eight, Charlotte, seven, and four-year-old Louis smiled and waved enthusiastically as they sat in a row in the carriage, known as a barouche.

George was dressed in a navy suit, white shirt and blue tie for the occasion, while Louis was wearing a sailor-style white and navy top echoing an outfit worn by his father at the 1985 Trooping event.

Charlotte’s hair was down, dressed up with two fine plaits fastened with a blue ribbon, and she wore a cornflower dress. The Duchess of Cambridge was wearing a white coat dress by Alexander McQueen and a hat by Philip Treacy.

The Cambridge children bowed their heads when the national anthem was played on their arrival into Horse Guards Parade. 

They were followed by the Earl and Countess of Wessex with children Lady Louise Windsor and James, Viscount Severn; then the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester and Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence in the third carriage.

(From left) Vice Admiral Timothy Laurence, Princess Anne, Camilla, Prince Charles, the Queen, Prince Louis, the Duchess of Cambridge, Princess Charlotte, Prince George, Prince William and Sophie, Countess of Wessex at Buckingham Palace today

(From left) Vice Admiral Timothy Laurence, Princess Anne, Camilla, Prince Charles, the Queen, Prince Louis, the Duchess of Cambridge, Princess Charlotte, Prince George, Prince William and Sophie, Countess of Wessex at Buckingham Palace today

Queen Elizabeth II points as she stands next to Prince Louis on the balcony at Buckingham Palace in London this afternoon

Queen Elizabeth II points as she stands next to Prince Louis on the balcony at Buckingham Palace in London this afternoon

Camilla, Prince Charles, the Queen, Prince Louis, the Duchess of Cambridge, Princess Charlotte, Prince George and Prince William appear on the balcony of Buckingham Palace as part of the Trooping the Colour parade today

Camilla, Prince Charles, the Queen, Prince Louis, the Duchess of Cambridge, Princess Charlotte, Prince George and Prince William appear on the balcony of Buckingham Palace as part of the Trooping the Colour parade today

Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis wave during the flypast as they stand on the Buckingham Palace balcony today

Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis wave during the flypast as they stand on the Buckingham Palace balcony today 

Queen Elizabeth II speaks with Prince Louis on the balcony at Buckingham Palace in London this afternoon

Queen Elizabeth II speaks with Prince Louis on the balcony at Buckingham Palace in London this afternoon

The Queen smiles as members of the Royal Family attend Trooping the Colour at Buckingham Palace in London this afternoon

The Queen smiles as members of the Royal Family attend Trooping the Colour at Buckingham Palace in London this afternoon

The Queen appears on the balcony at Buckingham Palace in London this afternoon with the Duke of Kent

The Queen appears on the balcony at Buckingham Palace in London this afternoon with the Duke of Kent

The Queen at Buckingham Palace today

The Queen at Buckingham Palace today

The Queen points at the display from the balcony at Buckingham Palace in London this afternoon

The Red Arrows perform a flypast over The Mall on day one of the Platinum Jubilee celebrations in London today

The Red Arrows perform a flypast over The Mall on day one of the Platinum Jubilee celebrations in London today

The Red Arrows perform a flypast over The Mall on day one of the Platinum Jubilee celebrations in London today

The Red Arrows perform a flypast over The Mall on day one of the Platinum Jubilee celebrations in London today

Crowds look up from The Mall as the RAF Red Arrows fly overhead after the Trooping the Colour ceremony in London today

Crowds look up from The Mall as the RAF Red Arrows fly overhead after the Trooping the Colour ceremony in London today

Fighter jets from Britain's RAF fly in formation to form the number '70' during a special flypast over Buckingham Palace today

Fighter jets from Britain’s RAF fly in formation to form the number ’70’ during a special flypast over Buckingham Palace today

Lady Louise looked elegant in a Philip Treacy hat first sported by Sophie Wessex, 57, to Trooping the Colour in 2009, which she paired with a vibrant pink floral dress. The teenager finished the look with a pair of delicate pink earrings. 

The pink ensemble perfectly complemented her mother Sophie’s outfit. The Countess of Wessex opted for a summery pink gingham outfit with matching hat. 

Meanwhile James, 14, looked smart in a black suit and Prince Edward wore military dress uniform for the occasion. 

Charles wore his scarlet Colonel of the Welsh Guards uniform and green thistle sash riding a horse named George. William rode on Derby in his Irish Guards uniform and Anne on a horse named Sir John in her Colonel of the Blues and Royals uniform as part of the colourful parade. 

Following Trooping the Colour, the royal carriages made the return journey down the Mall in preparation of the flypast. 

The Queen, 96, exclaimed ‘incredible!’ as she stepped out onto the Buckingham Palace balcony to take the return salute.

She was joined on the balcony by her dutiful cousin, the Duke of Kent, who carries out engagements on behalf of the Royal Family. 

Prince George, Prince Louis and Princess Charlotte are part of the procession during Trooping the Colour in London today

Prince George, Prince Louis and Princess Charlotte are part of the procession during Trooping the Colour in London today

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's three children Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis, took a starring role in the royal carriage as they arrive alongside their mother the Duchess of Cambridge, and the Duchess of Cornwall today at the start of Trooping the Colour

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s three children Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis, took a starring role in the royal carriage as they arrive alongside their mother the Duchess of Cambridge, and the Duchess of Cornwall today at the start of Trooping the Colour

Waves all round! The siblings offered warm waves to those who have queued - some overnight - to catch a glimpse of the royals at Buckingham Palace this morning...but Princess Charlotte wasn't entirely happy with her little brother's enthusiasm for greeting the gathered crowds

Waves all round! The siblings offered warm waves to those who have queued – some overnight – to catch a glimpse of the royals at Buckingham Palace this morning…but Princess Charlotte wasn’t entirely happy with her little brother’s enthusiasm for greeting the gathered crowds

Cheers go up from thousands of spectators in The Mall in London as they catch sight of Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis with proud parent Kate and the Duchess of Cornwall during Trooping the Colour this morning

Cheers go up from thousands of spectators in The Mall in London as they catch sight of Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis with proud parent Kate and the Duchess of Cornwall during Trooping the Colour this morning

The Duchess of Cambridge waves to the public as she arrives on a carriage to attend the Queen's Birthday Parade today

The Duchess of Cambridge waves to the public as she arrives on a carriage to attend the Queen’s Birthday Parade today

The Duchess of Cambridge waves to the public as she arrives on a carriage to attend the Queen's Birthday Parade today

The Duchess of Cambridge waves to the public as she arrives on a carriage to attend the Queen’s Birthday Parade today

The Duchess of Cambridge, Duchess of Cornwall, Princess Charlotte, Prince George and Prince Louis ride in a carriage today

The Duchess of Cambridge, Duchess of Cornwall, Princess Charlotte, Prince George and Prince Louis ride in a carriage today

Princess Charlotte rides in a carriage with her siblings during the Queen's Birthday Parade, the Trooping the Colour, today

Princess Charlotte rides in a carriage with her siblings during the Queen’s Birthday Parade, the Trooping the Colour, today

Prince George sits opposite the Duchess of Cornwall and Duchess of Cambridge during Trooping the Colour in London today

Prince George sits opposite the Duchess of Cornwall and Duchess of Cambridge during Trooping the Colour in London today

After a brief interlude inside, the Queen re-emerged at 1pm to observe the flypast.

In order to avoid any awkwardness surrounding the presence of Prince Harry, Meghan Markle and Prince Andrew, the Queen decreed that only working members of the Royal Family would join her on the balcony of Buckingham Palace to watch the flypast.

The balcony appearance, which is often seen as the centrepiece of major royal occasions, including Trooping the Colour and weddings, previously saw the Queen’s extended family gather to watch a flypast and is a rare chance for fans to see the entire extended family together. 

In 2019, there were 40 members of the family present, including her grandchildren and their families, as well as more distant relatives like her cousins’ children. 

But this year just 17 members of her family were present: The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their children, The Earl and Countess of Wessex and their children, The Princess Royal and Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, the Duke of Kent and Princess Alexandra.

Lady Louise Windsor was the picture of poise as she joined her parents and younger brother for The Queen's Birthday Parade to kick off the Platinum Jubilee celebrations

Lady Louise Windsor was the picture of poise as she joined her parents and younger brother for The Queen’s Birthday Parade to kick off the Platinum Jubilee celebrations

The Queen's granddaughter, 18, looked elegant in a pink floral dress as she took her seat alongside Prince Edward, the Countess of Wessex and James, Viscount Severn, 14, for the procession down The Mall

The Queen’s granddaughter, 18, looked elegant in a pink floral dress as she took her seat alongside Prince Edward, the Countess of Wessex and James, Viscount Severn, 14, for the procession down The Mall

Despite not yet being old enough to be a senior working member of the royal family, Lady Louise was invited to join in the celebrations alongside her parents and brother

Despite not yet being old enough to be a senior working member of the royal family, Lady Louise was invited to join in the celebrations alongside her parents and brother

Lady Louise looked perfectly poised as she rode in a carriage with her brother James, 14, pictured, and her parents

Lady Louise looked perfectly poised as she rode in a carriage with her brother James, 14, pictured, and her parents

Lady Louise smiled and waved as the carriage made its journey from Buckingham Palace to Horse Guards Parade today

Lady Louise smiled and waved as the carriage made its journey from Buckingham Palace to Horse Guards Parade today 

The Queen's granddaughter Zara Tindall donned a Beulah London Darsha dress teamed with a Juliette Botterill 'Floral Blossom Percher' hat and her Rolex watch as she got ready to watch Trooping The Colour with her husband Mike.

The Queen’s granddaughter Zara Tindall donned a Beulah London Darsha dress teamed with a Juliette Botterill ‘Floral Blossom Percher’ hat and her Rolex watch as she got ready to watch Trooping The Colour with her husband Mike.

The Royal Family have now finished this portion of the Platinum Jubilee celebrations, although they will make other appearances over the course of the next four days. 

It is a particularly significant trip for the Duchess of Sussex. 

Meghan has not seen any of the family since she and her husband acrimoniously quit as working royals and moved to North America in early 2020, while Prince Harry only saw them very briefly at the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral last year.

The last public occasion the Sussexes attended together in the UK was the annual Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey in March 2020 when the atmosphere could not have been more awkward. 

William and Kate virtually blanked Harry and Meghan that day, leaving Prince Edward and Sophie to try to keep the peace.

Charles is taking the salute as the Colour of the 1st Battalion Irish Guards is trooped and inspect the Troops of the Household Division on the monarch's behalf. He is joined by his elder son and sister, with all three on horseback

Charles is taking the salute as the Colour of the 1st Battalion Irish Guards is trooped and inspect the Troops of the Household Division on the monarch’s behalf. He is joined by his elder son and sister, with all three on horseback

The Duke of Cambridge takes part in the Royal Procession as he leaves Buckingham Palace for Trooping the Colour today

The Duke of Cambridge takes part in the Royal Procession as he leaves Buckingham Palace for Trooping the Colour today

Princess Anne, Princess Royal rides horseback during the Trooping the Colour parade in London this morning

Princess Anne, Princess Royal rides horseback during the Trooping the Colour parade in London this morning

Brigade major James Shaw (centre, top) leads members of the Household Cavalry to Horse Guards Parade this morning

Brigade major James Shaw (centre, top) leads members of the Household Cavalry to Horse Guards Parade this morning

Soldiers taking part in the parade along The Mall ahead of the Trooping the Colour ceremony at Horse Guards Parade today

Soldiers taking part in the parade along The Mall ahead of the Trooping the Colour ceremony at Horse Guards Parade today

Fortunately William, who has been most deeply affected by his brother’s actions and has struggled to hide his hurt, was not forced to greet the couple in public. 

And Kate proved to be an admirable peacemaker when she made a point of breaking the ice and speaking to Harry after the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral.

Harry and Meghan are staying with their children at their Windsor home, Frogmore Cottage. They had always been expected to join the congregation for tomorrow’s service of thanksgiving for the Queen’s 70-year reign at St Paul’s Cathedral, but their participation with Trooping is seen as an additional olive branch from Her Majesty.   

Yesterday, the Queen sent a car and a security detail to collect Harry, Meghan, Archie and Lilibet after their private jet landed in the UK from California, ahead of her celebrations.

Lilibet has never been in the UK – or met any of her British family – while Archie, who was born in Britain, has not been here since he was a baby. 

In the latest sign that hostilities between The Firm and the Sussexes are thawing, Her Majesty’s Land Rover greeted the family and their children at Farnborough Airport in Hampshire before taking them to Frogmore Cottage.

Crowds of people line The Mall as they watch members of the Royal Family appear on the Buckingham Palace balcony today

Crowds of people line The Mall as they watch members of the Royal Family appear on the Buckingham Palace balcony today

People gather along The Mall for the Queen's Platinum Jubilee celebrations in London this morning

People gather along The Mall for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations in London this morning

Crowds on The Mall ahead the Trooping the Colour ceremony at Horse Guards Parade in London this morning

Crowds on The Mall ahead the Trooping the Colour ceremony at Horse Guards Parade in London this morning

An insider told The Sun that ‘the Queen believed it was the right thing to do’ to send her car to meet her grandson and his family. The couple’s Embraer private jet landing at Farnborough, and the Queen’s black Land Rover – escorted by a Volkswagen people carrier – driving onto the tarmac.

It is thought the family were believed to have got into the blacked-out VW car, and that they travelled without their customary entourage or senior staff working for their Archewell charity. It also said Netflix camera crews – who have been following the couple for an £11million documentary – stayed behind.

Harry, Meghan and their two children were not given a police escort for the 40-minutes drive from Farnborough to Windsor.

Lilibet will turn one on Saturday, with a party expected at Frogmore likely to be attended by royals such as Princess Eugenie, who is close to Harry and Meghan, and the Queen could also pop in if she doesn’t attend the Epsom Derby. It will be the first time the monarch will meet the great-granddaughter named after her. 

But Prince William and Kate will not be there because they will be representing Her Majesty in Cardiff as senior working royals are sent to Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland to mark the monarch’s 70 years on the throne.

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