Harry and Meghan were greeted by cheers as they arrived at the Thanksgiving service but the Prince was said to show signs of stress (Picture: i-Images/BBC)
The Duke of Sussex, 37, looked ‘grim faced and haunted’ as he took his place at St Paul’s Cathedral today for the Thanksgiving service on the second day of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations.
Prince Harry showed signs of ‘culture shock’ after going from the ‘prince of Netflix’ to someone given a less prominent role among the 2,000 guests at the ceremony, according to Judi James.
Meghan, 40, showed fewer signs of stress although her ‘pitch-perfect’ persona began to appear ‘fixed’ towards the end of the service, she said.
Prince Charles and Camilla and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were also at the ceremony, which the Queen did not attend after experiencing ‘discomfort’ on the opening day of the national celebrations to mark her unprecedented 70 years on the throne.
Judi said: ‘It was a very low-key, subdued Harry on show today for his first public appearance under the same roof as his brother since Prince Philip’s service, when they put on a last minute display of something that was supposed to pass for togetherness and re-uniting.
‘The culture shock for the prince of Netflix, a man of celebrity stature and A-list status in the US, to sit way down the pecking order and under apparent instructions to keep a low profile in the UK must have felt seismic and he arrived displaying several signals of anxiety before sitting in his pew behind Sophie and Edward looking grim-faced and haunted.
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry arrive for the Thanksgiving service as part of the Platinum Jubilee celebrations for the Queen (Picture: Neil Hall/EPA)
Prince Harry arrives to attend the Thanksgiving service for the Queen’s reign at Saint Paul’s Cathedral in London (Picture: Daniel Leal/Pool/AFP)
‘Getting out of his car Harry performed several self-touch, checking gestures that suggested building tension. His famous grin was non-existent and he kept his head down in a gesture of humility.
‘Meghan was pitch-perfect, looking confident but without appearing attention-seeking although her warm, calm smile was beginning to look a little fixed and bulletproof by the end of the service.’
Harry and Meghan held hands as they made their way up the steps while the 16-ton bell, Great Paul, rang out.
They were greeted with cheers from the crowd on their first engagement since leaving The Firm in March 2020, which they attended without their children Archie, three, and Lilibet, who turns one on Saturday.
They appeared less at ease as the ceremony continued in their first public appearance for two years, having stayed out of the spotlight for yesterday’s opening pageantry, which included working royals appearing on the balcony at Buckingham Palace.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle stand during the National Service of Thanksgiving (Picture: Aaron Chown/Pool/AFP via Getty Images)
Prince Harry lends an ear to wife Meghan Markle during the service at St Paul’s Cathedral (Picture: Aaron Chown/Pool photo via AP)
The couple sat behind the Earl and Countess of Wessex, who were in the front row with their children, Lady Louise Mountbatten-Windsor and Viscount Severn, and the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester.
‘It appeared to be Harry taking his strength from Meghan here,’ Judi said. ‘They clasped hands on the way in and the way out but there were no other public displays of affection.
‘Whenever she spoke he dipped his head to pay her maximum attention, even though there was no trace of a smile as a result.
‘He seemed to be in role as the invisible royal at this event, with no signs of any attempt at fake bonding with his brother or his father.’
The Sussexes left separately to Prince William and Kate, again holding hands. They chatted to Zara Tindall and her husband Mike and shook hands with the Lord Mayor before leaving in a car.
Turning to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Judi said: ‘William and Kate looked super-regal, relaxed and chatty on the way in but there were some small signs of building tension from William during the service.
‘At one point he sat leaning forward in an uncharacteristic pose and there was a muscle working in his cheek to suggest that growing tension.
‘As he walked past his brother in the exit procession he sucked his lips in and turned his head in the opposite direction, even raising his order of service up high in what looked like a barrier gesture.’
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge leave the National Service of Thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral (Picture: Kirsty O’Connor/PA)
Prince Harry shows a faint smile as he leaves the service with his wife Meghan Markle (Picture: Reuters/Dylan Martinez)
However, there were some signs of a more natural Prince Harry – who was known for his sense of humour in his earlier years – that were caught by the analyst away from the live coverage.
She said: ‘Harry’s apparent anxiety did appear to cause some eruptions of his more “fun” side as he leaned across to laugh open-mouthed with what looks from the angle to have been Zara and Mike and later outside when he was also seen smiling with the couple.
‘These moments were in total contrast to his subdued demeanour and his signals of tension. These anxiety signals were subtle but constant and the more haunted facial expressions did form during un-performed moments, suggesting they were more representative of his mood.
‘When he did joke at one point, Meghan also placed a hand to his waist at the back in what looked like a checking or “restraining” reminder that they were keeping a lower profile.’
The Queen, 96, watched the ceremony on television as she moved out of the focal role in the four-day bank holiday weekend.
The royals are continuing with a host of engagements, which include the Derby at Epsom racecourse tomorrow and attendances at the thousands of Big Jubilee Lunches taking place on Sunday.
Do you have a story you would like to share? Contact [email protected]
For more stories like this, check our news page.
Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee 2022
Dust off your Union Jack bunting, Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee is finally here.
Taking place from Thursday, June 2, to Sunday, June 5, the celebrations mark Her Majesty’s record-breaking 70th year on the throne.
Queen shares new portrait and special message to nation for Platinum Jubilee
70 facts about the Queen to mark her 70 years on the throne
Where to go in London to celebrate The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee bank holiday weekend
Jubilee weekend weather forecast
Best Platinum Jubilee merchandise and where to buy
When is the actual Platinum Jubilee day?
Everything you need to know about the Platinum Jubilee Pageant
How many beacons are being lit around the UK and where are they located?