Kate and William removed from Commonwealth Day procession at Harry and Meghan's final engagement
Neither the Duke and Duchess of Sussex or the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge took part in the procession as the Royal Family arrived at the Commonwealth Day service, as Prince Harry and Meghan Markle made their final appearance as senior royals.
In a last-minute change by Buckingham Palace, plans for William and Kate to join Prince Charles, Camilla and the Queen in the procession were scrapped.
Prince Harry and Meghan were not due to be in the procession this year. However, the Cambridges were listed in the order of service.
According to a Press Association source, changes were made on Sunday.
Kensington Palace and Buckingham Palace have not commented on why the switch has been made.
Read more: Schoolboy says 'sorry Harry' after hugging Meghan in her surprise school visit
Arriving at the church, the Duchess of Sussex wore a green Emilia Wickstead dress with asymmetrical cape and hat by William Chambers and nude shoes.
Meanwhile the Duchess of Cambridge recycled a coat by Catherine Walker and a hat by Sally-Ann Provan.
As the couples took their seats, Meghan was seen to mouth “hi” to William and Kate, while giving a small wave.
Prince Harry also said hello to his brother and Meghan chatted to Prince Edward, her husband’s uncle.
Meghan couldn’t resist nodding along to Alexandra Burke’s rendition of Ain’t No Mountain High Enough during the service.
The Queen wore a Stewart Parvin delicate air-force blue cashmere double breasted A-line coat, with a silk faille printed shift dress in shades of “air force blue, black and burnt orange”.
Camilla wore a navy silk and lace dress and coat by Bruce Oldfield and a navy feathered hat by Philip Treacy, while Sophie was in a white and navy Suzannah dress and navy Jane Taylor hat.
Royal Family members were introduced to waiting dignitaries when they arrived, but no one shook hands, following Abbey protocol on containing coronavirus.
In 2019, Harry and Meghan waited alongside William, Kate, Charles and Camilla for the Queen to arrive, before taking part in The Procession of The Queen.
Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, was not present at the ceremony, having stepped back from royal duties over his friendship with the disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein.
The service was the first time Harry and Meghan have been with the rest of the Royal Family since November, when they attended the Remembrance Sunday service at the Cenotaph.
They spent an extended break in Canada with their son Archie over Christmas, after which they only returned to the UK briefly – when they announced they wanted to step back from their roles as senior royals.
It marks the end of Harry and Meghan’s royal engagements as they prepare for life without funding from the Crown.
In the last week, they have been carrying out public and private engagements, many of them with themes close to their previous work and hinting at what is to come.
They attended the Mountbatten Festival of Music on Saturday evening, with Harry making what could be his last appearance in uniform as Captain General of the Royal Marines.
From the end of March, that honorary position will be on hold, along with similar military titles that he holds.
They also attended the Endeavour Fund awards, a scheme that is very close to Harry’s heart, and one he indicated they will keep working with, telling guests at the ceremony that he would be looking at ways the Invictus Games could work more closely with it.
Meghan made secret visits to the National Theatre, a royal patronage that will become a private patronage, and to a school in east London, where she marked International Women’s Day with the pupils.
Read more: Canada to stop paying Harry and Meghan's security costs in coming weeks
The Commonwealth Day service is a key event each year for the Queen, who is head of the Commonwealth.
In a message released ahead of the service, she said: “Throughout my life, I have had the opportunity to see and hear how membership of the Commonwealth family means so much to those living in all parts of the world, often in places that are quite remote.
“Advances in technology and modern media have now enabled many more people to witness and enjoy – with remarkable immediacy – this experience of Commonwealth connection, in areas such as education, medicine and conservation.”
There were protests outside the Abbey as the couples prepared to join the Queen, the Prince of Wales, and Duchess of Cornwall for the annual Commonwealth Day service.
Video and photos that surfaced on social media showed a group of protesters with signs saying “stop the torture, stop the rape, stop the killings”. They are understood to be from Cameroon.
International boxing champion and Olympic gold medallist Anthony Joshua delivered a reflection, while singers Alexandra Burke and Craig David performed.
Ahead of their wedding, Harry and Meghan highlighted the Commonwealth as a priority for their royal duties.
Harry said: “Both of us have passions for wanting to make change, change for good, and with lots of young people running around the Commonwealth, that’s where we’re going to spend most of our time hopefully.”
Stepping down as a working royal means Harry must leave his role as Commonwealth Youth Ambassador.
But he will remain president of the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust and Meghan will still be the trust’s vice-president.
Questions remain over some aspects of the Sussexes’ future, including their security, after Canada said it would not make any contributions to keeping the family safe once they are not working royals.
Read more: Harry and Meghan reveal transition details and confirm end of Sussex Royal branding
They might have to foot the bill themselves, or the Queen may step in to help subsidise, as it is understood she does with her granddaughters Eugenie and Beatrice.
The Prince of Wales will likely also support them for the time being from his £21m-a-year Duchy of Cornwall income, so this could be channeled into their security needs.
Buckingham Palace and the Home Office do not comment on royal security.