Harry, Meghan bow out from official roles

Tony Jones and Laura Elston
Prince Harry and Meghan have attended one last official engagement before they finish royal duties

Prince Harry and Meghan have hugged and bumped elbows with well-wishers as they bowed out as working members of the monarchy.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex's last official appearance with the Queen, Charles, William, Kate and Camilla took place at a Commonwealth Service, where they smiled and waved at the 2000-strong congregation.

The couple have a few more weeks before they officially step down as senior royals, but the event at Westminster Abbey was the symbolic end of their life supporting the Queen.

Royal author Penny Junor said she hoped Harry copes with the move from his family.

"I hope that Harry doesn't feel bereft of everything that he loves - he will have his wife and child - but everything else in his life, when the door closes on this period of business," she said.

Despite the seismic change in their circumstances the couple laughed and joked with singers Alexandra Burke and Craig David, and world heavyweight boxing champion Anthony Joshua, who all took part in Monday's event.

Congregations at Westminster Abbey have been told in recent weeks to avoid shaking hands to limit the potential spread of the coronavirus and Harry bumped elbows with Craig David.

But Meghan had no concerns and hugged the singer, who performed his single Unbelievable, and also embraced a girl.

Beneath the smiles, body language expert Judi James said all was not as it seemed for the outgoing royals.

"It wasn't the warm reunion that we were all hoping for. The tension in Harry's body language especially was palpable," she said.

"As Harry walked up the aisle, they both waved at the children, but his face otherwise was quite tense and unsmiling."

When the royal brothers and their wives met, Meghan was seen to mouth "hi" and give a small wave to William and Kate, followed by a "hello", as the Cambridges took their seat in the row in front of the Sussexes.

Harry also said "hello" and smiled at his brother.

From March 31, Harry and Meghan will no longer use their HRH styles as they pursue a new life of personal and financial freedom, mostly in North America.

On that date Meghan will bow out of royal life less than two years after marrying into the family.

The couple are said to want to "collectively make a change in the armed forces arena" and will make the military central to their charitable work in their new lives.

The Queen in her Commonwealth Day message praised the diversity of the family of nations whose blend of traditions "serves to make us stronger".