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. And while Harry had served in the British military with distinction for a decade, he also gave up his military titles.
Despite their visibility at the funeral, there were subtle references to that split in how their appearance was handled.
Here’s how they took part and what their positions signified.
Where did Prince Harry and Meghan Markle sit 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. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex were among other royal family members, right at the foot of 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. Heir apparent Prince William and Princess Katherine of Wales sat in the front row with their eldest children Prince George, 9, and Princess Charlotte, 7, across a small aisle from the 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 currently 17th in the line of succession. His sister Zara Tindall (20th in line) and her husband Mike Tindall sat to Phillips’ other side.
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?
In his ten years as a member of the British military, Harry served two tours in Afghanistan and rose to the rank of captain in the British army. Yet he gave up his three official military titles in 2021 as part of a deal with his family when he stopped working for the royal family and moved to California.
Many members of the Royal family appeared in uniform, including King Charles III, Prince William, Princess Anne, and Prince Edward. Harry, however, donned a suit and tie for the occasion.
Buckingham Palace required him not appear in uniform because he is no longer a working royal. 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. While King Charles III and Prince William served in the military, they were never close to combat.
Peter Phillips (L), Britain’s Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex (centre left), Britain’s Prince William, Prince of Wales (bottom left), Britain’s Earl of Snowdon (C) and Britain’s Meghan, Duchess of Sussex (R) leave the Abbey at the State Funeral Service for Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, at Westminster Abbey in London on September 19, 2022.
Ben Stansall—Pool/AFP/Getty Images
Where was Meghan Markle during the funeral procession?
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. On Monday, they rode behind Queen Consort Camilla and Kate Middleton.
Meghan meaningfully wore earrings given to her by queen. The diamonds and pearls are both traditionally favored by members of the royal family for occasions of mourning as the colorless stones have a quiet elegance.
Photographers outside of Westminster Abbey after the funeral captured Meghan wiping a tear from her cheek as she stood in a gathering of royal family members.
Correction, Sept. 19
The original version of this story misspelled Princess Catherine’s first name. It is Catherine, not Katherine.
Britain’s Sophie, Countess of Wessex (L) and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex are driven behind the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II, adorned with a Royal Standard and the Imperial State Crown and pulled by a Gun Carriage of The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery, during a procession from Buckingham Palace to the Palace of Westminster, in London on September 14, 2022.
Marco Bertorello—AFP/Getty Images
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