Meghan Markle will make her first official appearance with the Queen today, when the 36-year-old joins the monarch and other senior royals to celebrate Commonwealth Day at Westminster Abbey.
It will be the Queen’s first public acknowledgement of Meghan, who is set to marry Prince Harry on May 19, since Christmas Day.
Harry, 33, will also be at Westminster Abbey, as will his brother Prince William, 35, Kate, 36, Prince Charles and Camilla, 68, Prince Philip, 96, who has effectively retired from public duties, will not be attending.
There will be around 2,000 people at the event, including Theresa May and ex-One Direction singer Liam Payne, who will perform.
In the Queen’s Commonwealth Day message, she will pay tribute to the diversity of the “family of nations”, which can “help to create a future that is fairer, more secure, more prosperous and sustainable”.
After the service, Harry and Meghan will attend a private reception for those involved, including leaders from the 53 member states.
The prince is set to take on an official leadership position in the Commonwealth next month. The role will formally begin at the Commonwealth heads of government meeting in London, which he will attend alongside the Queen.
Harry and Meghan made sure to mention the Commonwealth during their joint interview to mark their engagement in November, with Harry saying they looked forward to travelling to some of the member countries soon. “With lots of young people running around the Commonwealth, that’s where we’ll spend most of our time hopefully,” the prince said.
Meghan added she was looking forward to using her increased profile to make positive change, both in the UK and around the Commonwealth. “One of the first things we started talking about when we met was just the different things that we wanted to do in the world and how passionate we were about seeing change,” the former Suits actress said at the time.
“Being able to go around the Commonwealth I think is just just the beginning of that,” she added.
While Meghan’s appearance alongside the Queen at Commonwealth Day festivities is tacit approval for the newest member of the royal family, there is speculation that the monarch hasn’t been thrilled about Meghan and Harry’s touch-feely style at official engagements so far.
Despite it being against royal protocol, the loved-up duo have been holding hands, hugging and nuzzling each other in public since they first announced their engagement.
William and Kate, on the other hand, rarely, if ever, show affection in public. PDAs are definitely off limits for the couple, who have followed the lead of the Queen and Prince Phillip – and every senior royal couple since – by keeping their hands to themselves.
But it seems Meghan is styling herself as the new people’s princess – a modern version of Diana’s style of royalty, where boundaries were pushed, lines were crossed and, as a result, new life was breathed into the stuffy institution. The American actress’s personable style certainly stands out against other royals who toe the line, and that includes Kate.
Meghan, who divorced ex-husband Trevor Engelson in 2013, has been very busy in the run-up to her nuptials, and has reportedly been baptised into the Church of England at a secret service conducted by the Archbishop of Canterbury.
According to some sources, she has also been having etiquette and elocution lessons in the lead-up to the wedding day.