Meghan Markle has returned to the UK as she prepares to undertake the final round of royal duties with Prince Harry after the pair sensationally announced their royal step down earlier this year, and she’s spoken out for the first time since their royal split.
The Duchess of Sussex is accompanying her husband to the Endeavour Fund awards where she got up on stage to present one winner, and addressed the public in her first speech since the dramatic exit.
“It’s very nice to be back,” she told the gathered crowd, before referencing the couple’s new home when she described watching the nominations “all the way from Canada”.
Prince Harry also made a speech in which he acknowledged the pair’s ongoing allegiance to the royal family.
“Being able to serve the Queen and country is something we’re all rightly proud of,” Harry said.
“It never leaves us. Once served, always serving.”
The couple sent shockwaves through the royal family in January when they announced they wanted to step back from their senior roles, and this month confirmed the final details of what has become known as ‘Megxit’.
Meghan returns to be by Harry’s side
Harry has been back in Britain for a week, and recently visited a recording session in Abbey Road Studios where he joined Jon Bon Jovi who was working on music for the Invictus Games later this year.
Meghan stayed in Vancouver Island, where they have been living since before Christmas, arriving in the UK in time for their first joint engagement.
She and Harry were pictured leaving The Goring Hotel in Westminster separately, but it’s understood they were having lunch there and are staying in Windsor, at Frogmore Cottage.
The couple have not brought their son Archie over with them for the visit.
The pair arrived at the event together, with Harry protectively shielding his wife from the rain with an Umbrella, and she beamed at gathered fans and press.
Harry wore a dark blue suit for the evening’s awards, and Meghan chose a teal Victoria Beckham dress.
One person briefly booed but there were cheers as they arrived at the venue.
The duke and duchess attended last year when the duchess was heavily pregnant with their son Archie.
Harry and Meghan’s final hurrah: a tight-packed schedule
“In addition to the official engagements the duke and duchess are conducting over the course of the next few days, they are also meeting privately with several of their patronages,” a spokeswoman for the couple said.
Buckingham Palace declined to comment as to whether the Queen, who was carrying out audiences at her London residence on Thursday, met with Harry and Meghan.
Meghan and other royals will also attend the Mountbatten Festival of Music on 7 March at the Royal Albert Hall.
And the duchess will mark International Women’s Day on 8 March in an as yet unconfirmed event.
Harry has a number of other engagements, including opening the Silverstone Experience with Lewis Hamilton.
Royal reunion post-Megxit
The Sussexes were last seen together on an official engagement on 7 January when they visited Canada House in London to thank the nation for hosting them during their festive break in the Commonwealth country.
The following day, the couple announced they wished to step back from their senior royal duties, they said they hoped to forge their own path which would allow them to honour the Queen but make their own money.
However, it became clear that Buckingham Palace would not allow a half in half out option, and the Sussexes had to make compromises.
The couple confirmed they won’t use the word “royal” in any of their branding as they finalised the details of their transition period at the end of February.
They had been using Sussex Royal and were in the midst of a trademark application for the name but agreed not to use it once it became clear they wouldn’t be able to do so in the UK.
They said they were “eager” to share more plans when they could, and would be setting up a nonprofit organisation as opposed to a foundation.
The couple will remain in the UK until at least 9 March, when they will join other royals at the Commonwealth Day service.
But it’s thought they will return to Canada afterwards. They step back from their duties officially on 31 March.
A 12 month review period has been put in place.
With additional reporting by Rebecca Taylor, royal correspondent.
Got a story tip or just want to get in touch? Email us at email@example.com.