The Duke and Duchess of Sussex received a long round of applause and a standing ovation from the audience in the Royal Albert Hall in London as they took their seats at the Mountbatten Festival of Music.
Prince Harry, who attended the event at the South Kensington venue in his role as Captain General of the Royal Marines, wore a mess dress uniform complete with medals awarded from two tours of Afghanistan.
It is the final time that the Duke will go on an engagement in his official Royal Marines capacity, having inherited the rank of Captain General from his 98-year-old grandfather Prince Philip in 2017.
Meghan Markle, who arrived at the venue with a huge smile on her face, wore a red full-length £1,295 Safiyaa dress, jewelled Simone Rocha earrings, and gorgeous red Aquazurra heels.
She and Harry were greeted by five members of the Royal Marines, before they were escorted to the royal box to enjoy a night of musical entertainment for the Royal Marines Association – The Royal Marines Charity.
Members of the Royal Marines showcased their musicianship and pageantry during the two-day festival, which is marking the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War.
It is also marking the 80th anniversary of the formation of Britain’s Commandos. Proceeds are going to the Royal Marines Association – The Royal Marines Charity, and cancer support charity CLIC Sargent.
The Sussexes received a round of applause and a standing ovation before singing the National Anthem. John Suchet, compering the evening, told how ‘honoured we are’ to have the pair in attendance.
Harry and Meghan took their seats in the royal box in the astounding 5,272-capacity concert hall, which was commissioned and opened by Queen Victoria in 1871 for her late husband Prince Albert.
The royal couple had the opportunity to laugh and joke with uniformed band members and dancers backstage, before heading onto the stage to meet more attendees and musicians.
They walked off stage hand in hand, and went to take their seats for the second part of the show. During the performance, the audience were led in a singalong of Sir Tom Jones hits including Delilah and It’s Not Unusual.
The concert also featured Judy Garland classic Over the Rainbow, and the Gladiator film theme.
Warrant Officer, Reg Sheen, the festival manager, said it was ‘absolutely fantastic’ to see the Sussexes and that he was ‘delighted’ that Harry was the force’s Captain General.
Mr Sheen, who was a member of the greeting party when the couple arrived on Saturday evening, added: ‘The reaction they got from the audience when they arrived was very emotional for the Royal Marines.’
Harry and Meghan have embarked upon a series of high-profile engagements in recent days, ahead of their departure from public life after March 31 – a day that has been branded ‘Megxit’.
The event comes one day after Harry officially opened the Silverstone Experience in Northamptonshire, a museum charting British motor racing through the years, alongside Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton.
The Prince was driven to the doors of The Silverstone Experience in Northamptonshire yesterday morning in a £65,000 electric Mercedes EQC 400 AMG by six-time champion Hamilton.
Meanwhile, Meghan made a surprise trip to the National Theatre in London on Thursday, releasing photographs of her tour via the couple’s Instagram account yesterday.
The Duchess, who is patron of the theatre, was shown VR technology aimed at helping people ‘better connect and empathise with each other as people, regardless of race, age or nationality’.
She also visited a comprehensive school in east London this afternoon on her second day back in the UK.
The couple also attended the Endeavour Fund Awards on Thursday evening to recognise the achievements of wounded, sick and injured service personnel. The annual event celebrates the achievements of wounded, sick and injured servicemen and women who have taken part in sporting and adventure challenges.
All eyes were on Meghan, 38, who has not been seen in this country since she and Harry, 35, made the dramatic announcement that they were quitting public life in early January, much to the distress of the Queen.
She presented the Celebrating Excellence Award during the event, saying: ‘Its very nice to be back. Its the third year I’ve had the incredible fortune of joining my husband here. It’s just the most inspiring space.
‘When we were watching the [nomination] videos all the way in Canada we had the same moment of “how are you going to choose?” Well, we’ve done our best.’
The event is just one of just a handful of engagements the couple are undertaking this weekend in the UK before returning to Canada to embark on their new life, ahead of their official departure on March 31.
On Wednesday, Harry waved to well-wishers outside Buckingham Palace as he was driven away in a Range Rover after a series of internal meetings with his team. It came after they had a ‘heart to heart’ for four hours in her private apartments at Windsor Castle on Sunday about his imminent departure from the Royal Family.
Harry is said to have requested the meeting, and the Queen – who last saw her grandson during their showdown at Sandringham in January after Harry broke the news that he and Meghan were quitting – was happy to agree.
The Queen is believed to have told her grandson that she was keen to keep the door open for him and Meghan to return, and stressed that he would be welcomed back from Canada at any time.
Harry, who has always enjoyed a warm relationship with his grandmother, was apparently keen to ‘clear the air’ before he and Meghan formally step down as working royals on March 31.
It is understood that he and his grandmother shared a light lunch and tea on Sunday as they discussed his future.
Harry has been staying at Frogmore Cottage, the couple’s home on the Queen’s Windsor estate, since returning to the UK last week to undertake a handful of final official engagements. He and Meghan have agreed to pay back £2.4million in taxpayer funds used to rebuild the property in light of their decision to move to North America.
The Queen was left deeply upset after Harry and Meghan decided to suddenly announce their plans to step down and move abroad in early January in an apparent effort to bounce the Royal Family into agreeing to their demands to retain the trappings of royal life, while pursuing independent commercial careers.
And the couple were taken aback when Buckingham Palace made clear its displeasure and insisted that Harry would have to relinquish his HRH title as a non working royal and hand back their official patronages and his military positions, as well as dropping their plans to market themselves as ‘Sussex Royal’.
The Queen is said to be ‘very sad’ that she sees so little of Harry and Meghan’s son Archie, her great-grandson.
Last autumn, American former Suits actress Meghan opened up about her struggles with royal life in an ITV documentary filmed on their Africa tour. She revealed that she had tried to cope with the pressures by putting on a ‘stiff upper lip’, but admitted she was not prepared for the intensity of tabloid interest.
‘It’s not enough to just survive something, that’s not the point of life. You have got to thrive,’ she added. Meghan told presenter Tom Bradby: ‘Not many people have asked if I’m OK.’
The Sussexes attended the previous annual Endeavour Fund Awards ceremony in February 2019, when the Duchess was heavily pregnant with Archie. They were last seen together on an official engagement on January 7 when they visited Canada House to thank the nation for hosting them during their festive break in Canada.
SOURCE: Daily Mail, Jack Wright and James Wood