Just three days after getting married, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex carried out their first engagement. This afternoon they joined the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall for a garden party at Buckingham Palace honoring the Prince’s work with his patronages as part of an elongated celebration of his upcoming 70th birthday.
The Palace typically hosts three official garden parties each spring, while a fourth is held in Edinburgh when the Queen is in Scotland. These are supplemented by additional special events, such as this one. You may recall, for example, that Harry joined the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge last spring in hosting one for children of armed service members.
This year’s round kicked off last Tuesday when the Queen was joined by other members of the Royal Family in welcoming invited guests. There will be another on May 31, while a third, due to be held on June 5, will be hosted by Charles. This will be the first time the Prince officially hosts one of these events on behalf of his mother and it’s yet another sign of her handing over more responsibility to him in acknowledgement of her age.
This afternoon saw some 6,000 people descend on the Palace, all from charities and military organizations closely associated with Charles.
Today Harry made a speech praising his father’s work and while it was lovely, it was broken up just a tad when a bumblebee flew directly into his ear prompting giggles from Meghan and Camilla. Ironically, Harry mentioned in his remarks how much the Prince has done to protect the species.
If you’re wondering where William and Kate are – William was in Manchester today commemorating the one-year anniversary of the 2017 terror attack and Kate is still firmly on maternity leave. In any other circumstances, it’s likely that both would have also attended.
For the event, Meghan chose a blush Goat dress (a brand Kate has frequently favored), a new hat by Philip Treacy and heels by Tamara Mellon. She also opted to wear nude stockings, which I think is a first. Honestly, this is the most traditionally “royal” we’ve ever seen the new Duchess, though it’s worth noting that the expected dress at one of these garden parties is fairly specific. I thought she looked lovely.
Today would have been one of the first experiences that Meghan has had with being referred to publicly by her new title, including the HRH, and being on the receiving end of curtsies and “Ma’ams.” But while she may have found it all a bit surreal, she appeared in good spirits today and was photographed laughing and smiling with Charles, Camilla and Harry as they greeted guests and posed for pictures.
As for what comes next, we don’t really know. It’s unclear when Harry and Meghan will leave for their honeymoon, but no further engagements are on the books to-date. And since a christening date for Prince Louis has yet to be announced, we’re not likely to see Kate any time soon. Our best bet is William, actually, who will be attending a similar garden party on Thursday alongside the Earl of Wessex and Princess
Beatrice Eugenie in honor of the Duke of Edinburgh. [Update: It was pointed out by @Gertsroyals on Twitter that while Beatrice was listed on the invitation, they seem to have subsequently swapped her out for her sister. Beatrice will instead attend a morning event with Edward and his wife, the Countess of Wessex.]
We’ll cover that here and otherwise have a few more historical posts slated for the next couple of weeks.
Full Text of Harry’s Speech
We are here today to reflect on, and to celebrate, my father’s dedicated support to all of you and the work that you do.
But first, I would like us to take a moment to remember all those affected by the tragic events at the Manchester Arena a year ago. We are fortunate to have over 250 representatives from the Emergency Services here today. It is right that we take a moment to recognise the amazing work they do every day and how each member of our Blue Light Services rise to meet the challenge of tragic events such as the attack a year ago. We are also joined by Youth United Cadets. Their organisation also provided triage support to the medical crews on the attack.
So, on behalf of my family and everyone here, I would like to say thank you to the Emergency Services and all those who supported the injured and affected. My brother, William, would be here today, were he not attending the service in Manchester to honour the victims, their families, the Emergency Services and the survivors, this afternoon. Our thoughts are with those who lost loved ones and those still dealing with the experiences of that night.
It really is amazing to see so many of you here today for this family celebration. I say ‘family’ because this is a chance for us to honour The Prince of Wales’s work over the last forty plus years, with all of his charities, patronages and military associations – and, as you all know, my father views all of your organisations like an extended family.
As I was preparing for this afternoon, I looked through the long list of those who had been invited. Pa, I was again struck by the range and diversity of the work which you are involved with. Currently there are your two major charities, The Prince’s Trust and the newly formed – Prince’s Foundation – which has brought together your work supporting vulnerable young people in society, the built environment, culture, heritage and education. These sit alongside your 18 military associations and more than 420 patronages, ranging from music and the arts to rare breeds and plant life. Although the subjects vary enormously, I know that the way in which you work with each of them does not.
Who amongst you has not known the joy, and perhaps trepidation at receiving a handwritten note in response to some news shared from your organisation, urging you on and asking for more to be done to address this issue or that? Who has not come away from a meeting with my father, their head spinning with a dozen new ideas which he wants to get underway urgently, having met a group of people or read something that has fired his imagination and started the flow of ideas.
His enthusiasm and energy are truly infectious; it has certainly inspired William and I to get involved in issues we care passionately about and to do whatever we can to make a difference. In fact, many of the issues William and I now work on are subjects we were introduced to by our father growing up. His passion and dedication are remarkable and seeing so many of you here today, I cannot fail but to be in awe of the drive he has had for so many years, to contribute to the enrichment of society both in this country and around the world.
But Pa, in my mind, this event sums up your approach to work – I know you really didn’t want today to be about you and would far rather the focus be on the people and organisations represented here. I know that in your mind, you see the opportunity of bringing everyone together as a chance to thank them for all of their amazing work! It is your selfless drive to affect change, whether that is to improve the lives of those who are on the wrong path, to save an important piece of our national heritage or to protect a particular species under threat, which William and I draw inspiration from every day.
So, Pa, while I know that you’ve asked that today not be about you, you must forgive me if I don’t listen to you – much like when I was younger – and instead, I ask everyone here to say a huge thank you to you, for your incredible work over nearly 50 years. Work that has given self-confidence and opportunity to thousands of young people who might not have had the best start in life; Or to champion causes like climate change long before almost anyone else was talking about it; and above all, for your vision and ability to bring people together to make change happen.
You have inspired William and I, and looking out here today, it is clear to see that we are not alone. You have created an incredible body of work that has, and will continue to make such a huge difference to so many people’s lives both here and around the world.
With that, Ladies and Gentlemen, please can I ask you to join me in wishing The Prince of Wales a very Happy Birthday – 6 months ahead of his 70th! How very Royal!