Today's service was the perfect opportunity to officially introduce Meghan to the Commonwealth. It is by far the most formal event she has attended thus far. Since the engagement interview she has referenced the Commonwealth several times and is clearly interested in visiting member nations.
Indeed, it has been widely reported the couple have been enlisted to play an important role in the upcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in April. Leaders from all member countries are expected to gather in London and Windsor. They will come together to reaffirm common values, address the shared global challenges faced and agree how to work to create a better future for all Commonwealth citizens, particularly young people. An array of forums, meetings and a glittering State Banquet are on the agenda. The Telegraph reports it will conclude with a special celebration marking the Queen's 92nd birthday at the Royal Albert Hall marking her lifelong commitment to the Commonwealth.
It was a large turnout from the Royal family with the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, the Duke of York, the Princess Royal, the Countess of Wessex, the Duchess of Gloucester and Princess Alexandra present.
Harry and Meghan arrived with William and Kate.
They were treated to a performance by London-based Ghanaian musicians One-Drum.
The foursome stopped on their way in to enjoy it.
An arrival video.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Harry and Ms. Meghan Markle arrive at @Wabbey for The Commonwealth Service. #CommonwealthDay pic.twitter.com/sIkCMFxCq5— The Royal Family (@RoyalFamily) March 12, 2018
The Queen has been Head of the Commonwealth throughout her 66 year reign. Her Majesty has reinforced links and seen the association of nations grow from seven to fifty-three members during her reign.
The Queen arrives.
Organised by the Royal Commonwealth Society, the Commonwealth Service is the largest annual inter-faith gathering in the United Kingdom. The Commonwealth represents a global network of 53 countries and almost 2.4 billion people, of whom 60 per cent are under 30 years old.
Each year the Commonwealth adopts a theme upon which the Service is based. This year's theme 'Towards a Common Future' emphasises how the Commonwealth can address global challenges and work to create a better future for all citizens through sub-themes of sustainability, safety, prosperity and fairness. The theme links to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM).
'As we give thanks for our rich diversity and for our common humanity, let us pray together for peace and unity' – Dr John Hall, Dean of Westminster, gives the bidding during The Commonwealth Service at @Wabbey. #CommonwealthDay pic.twitter.com/5dXcc9IQI2— The Royal Family (@RoyalFamily) March 12, 2018
Attendees were treated to musical performances from Ghanaian drum collective One-Drum, Ngati Ranana London Maori Club, Portsmouth Gospel Choir, and British musician Liam Payne.
.@LiamPayne sings John Mayer's 'Waiting on the World to Change' during the #CommonwealthDay service. pic.twitter.com/XEDziNjx9F— The Royal Family (@RoyalFamily) March 12, 2018
Spoken word artist Jaspreet Kaur, @behindthenetra, performs during The #CommonwealthDay service at @Wabbey. pic.twitter.com/TAlmPUox5K— The Royal Family (@RoyalFamily) March 12, 2018
Eye surgeon and Co-Founder of @peekteam, Dr Andrew Bastawrous provides a reflection on his work to bring better vision to people around the world through the latest technology and health intelligence. #CommonwealthDay pic.twitter.com/rntnmjpj8y— The Royal Family (@RoyalFamily) March 12, 2018
All members of the congregation stand for The Act of Affirmation to the Commonwealth read by the Commonwealth Secretary-General, @PScotlandCSG. #CommonwealthDay pic.twitter.com/5nj8Ylrlpq— The Royal Family (@RoyalFamily) March 12, 2018
Nice moment when Prince Harry’s deep singing in @wabbey amuses Meghan Markle during ‘Guide Me O Thou Great Redeemer’ #CommonwealthDay pic.twitter.com/Ih1DvNYpYc— Chris Ship (@chrisshipitv) March 12, 2018
Ahead of the service, the Queen shared the following message:
"We all have reason to give thanks for the numerous ways in which our lives are enriched when we learn from others. Through exchanging ideas, and seeing life from other perspectives, we grow in understanding and work more collaboratively towards a common future.
There is a very special value in the insights we gain through the Commonwealth connection; shared inheritances help us overcome difference so that diversity is a cause for celebration rather than division. We shall see this in action at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting which takes place in the United Kingdom next month, bringing together young people, business and civil society from across the Commonwealth.
These gatherings are themselves fine examples of how consensus and commitment can help to create a future that is fairer, more secure, more prosperous and sustainable. Having enjoyed the warm hospitality of so many Commonwealth countries over the years, I look forward to the pleasure of welcoming the leaders of our family of 53 nations to my homes in London and Windsor.
Sport also contributes to building peace and development. The excitement and positive potential of friendly rivalry will be on display next month as we enjoy the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast, Australia. Contributing to the success of the Games, alongside athletes and officials, will be thousands of volunteers.
Voluntary effort, by people working as individuals, in groups or through larger associations, is so often what shapes the Commonwealth and all our communities. By pledging to serve the common good in new ways, we can ensure that the Commonwealth continues to grow in scope and stature, to have an even greater impact on people's lives, today, and for future generations.”
Following the service, Meghan was given flowers by a little girl.
Prince Harry greets the children.
The Queen and other royals departing.
William, Kate, Harry and Meghan walked through Dean's Yard for a reception. Below, Meghan with The Very Reverend Dr John Hall, the 38th Dean of Westminster, after the service.
Meghan told a group of children she's "very excited" about the wedding.
Victoria Murphy posted a video.
Meghan looked every inch the future Duchess today.
Meghan wore the rich cream Amanda Wakeley Cream Sculpted Tailoring Crombie Coat (with thanks to Meghan Maven). British designer Amanda Wakeley is a firm royal favourite. The late Princess Diana and the Duchess of Cambridge have worn a number of her designs.
The $1,199 piece is described as "A pristinely cut coat will pull your entire seasonal wardrobe together, and none come more elegant than our sculpted tailoring Crombie coat." It's available in limited sizing at Amanda Wakeley and Orchard Mile.
Meghan Markle Style identified Meghan's dress as the Amanda Wakeley's Springsteen Midnight Tailored Midi dress. It's discounted from $680 to $267 at Orchard Mile and available in several sizes on the Amanda Wakeley website.
More from the product description:
'This fitted, structurally seamed dress in midnight is a bold choice for any occasion. The bodice is lined in silk, and the signature full-length back zip in gold is exposed. This is a fantastic staple dress that will see you from the boardroom to any function in an instant.'
The designer offered confirmation via her Facebook Page.
Meghan's hat is by leading British milliner Stephen Jones.
Meghan carried $675 the Mulberry Small Darley Bright Navy Cross Grain Leather clutch. It's available in an array of colours on the Mulberry website (with thanks to Perth Fashion).
Manolo Blahnik BB pumps in navy.
Meghan's earrings are the Adina Reyter 14k Gold Three Diamond Amigos Curve (with thanks to Meghan's Fashion).
The Duchess of Cambridge wore Beulah London today. To read more pop over to Duchess Kate.
In light of the comments since the Royal Foundation Forum, it feels important to share the note I wrote when Harry and Meghan got engaged again. I had hoped the issue of comparing both women and using one to bash the other would subside. Sadly, that's evidently not been the case. I appreciate the time and effort which goes into writing comments, and I hate to delete them, however if this issue isn't dealt with it can only serve to derail enjoyable conversation time and time again. We're getting to a stage where events attended by both Kate and Meghan are a free for all. It has to stop. It is my sincere hope today's service will mark the beginning of a change in comments. Thank you for your understanding and support.
Kate is Kate. Meghan is Meghan. Both are entirely different women, with different strengths and weaknesses, in entirely different roles. In a society that pits women against each other, as a community we must strive to avoid the Kate v Meghan narrative. On 'both sides' of the fence, particularly cruel remarks have been left. The primary reason I started the separate blog was to avoid the negativity created by endless comparisons. This blog is not a venue for tearing Kate apart nor is the other blog a place to relentlessly bash Meghan. I think people forget William, Kate, Harry and Meghan are all on the same team - the future of the monarchy - this sort of imagined rivalry is the very last thing they want. Separately, there's been unwarranted vicious comments about Meghan in general, such comments are not welcome here. Constructive criticism along the way is of course absolutely fine but vicious attacks will not be posted. I hope to foster a warm and welcoming community here with interesting debates, I'll need your help for that. There's already a group of fanastic posters here, I have no doubt we can achieve a nice space for those following Meghan's journey. Thank you!
An important milestone for Meghan today!