Prince Harry jetted out to Canada last night to be reunited with Meghan and Archie but missed his brother William’s first solo reception at Buckingham Palace where he ushered in a new era for the royals.
It was a stepping stone for William in the long preparation for him becoming king and showcased the royal family’s new order post-Harry, who was on his way to Vancouver to start his new life with his wife and son overnight.
At the summit reception the Duke of Cambridge was supported by his wife Kate, Prince Edward, his wife Sophie, Countess of Wessex, and Princess Anne as they welcomed 21 African delegations to the Queen’s London home. The Queen and Prince Charles were not in attendance at the reception to mark the UK-Africa Investment Summit.
Despite the drama of the past fortnight, William and Kate were all smiles as they received a line of visiting Heads of State and their partners in the Music Room.
The Duchess of Cambridge put on a dazzling display as she joined her husband at the event on Monday evening, looking resplendent in a glittering £410 red gown from high end high-street store Needle & Thread for the evening reception – a brand also loved by Princess Beatrice.
The Countess of Wessex, who was celebrating her 55th birthday, looked elegant in a red as she joined her husband Prince Edward, 55, at the summit reception.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson also attended, along with African heads of state, such as President of Rwanda Paul Kagame, the Ivory Coast’s President Alassane Ouattara, and Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta.
In a warm and personal speech, the duke welcomed the heads of state or ministers from 21 African nations, telling them: ‘My grandmother is sorry not to be here this evening, but she has asked me to pass on her warmest wishes to you all.’
Meanwhile, Meghan looked without a care in the world as she was snapped taking her dogs for a walk with Archie just a couple of miles from the oceanfront home where she has spent most of the past two months on Canada’s Vancouver Island.
Holding her two dogs, black lab Oz and beagle Guy on leashes, there was no sign of the drama of Megxit on the Duchess of Sussex’s smiling face as she held her eight-month-old son on her chest in a baby carrier, and awaited the imminent arrival of her husband.
In his speech Prince William added that Africa ‘holds a very special place in my heart’ and also mentioned his brother.
He said: ‘It is the place my father took my brother and me shortly after our mother died. And when deciding where best to propose to Catherine, I could think of no more fitting place than Kenya to get down on one knee.
‘Throughout my life, I have been lucky enough to spend time in many other parts of Africa. I’m also honoured to be the Patron of the Royal African Society.
‘And as Catherine and I have said to several of you here tonight, we hope to have the chance to visit many more countries in the future and share our mutual love of your continent with our children.’
It was the Cambridges’ first public appearance since a deal was announced by Buckingham Palace on the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s future plans.
And it came a day after Harry’s own moving and deeply personal comments on their decision to step back as working royals.
But despite the drama of the past fortnight, William and Kate were all smiles as they received a line of visiting Heads of State and their partners in the Music Room.
During a group photograph with the heads of state and government in the Throne Room, Prime Minister Boris Johnson joked ‘Say Brexit’ as the photographer counted them down.
The royals then joined a reception with the leaders in the Green Drawing Room before joining other guests in the Picture Gallery, where the Duke of Cambridge gave his speech.
Guests included UK government members, UK and African business figures and representatives from key multilateral agencies.
Earlier in the day, Harry held private bilateral meetings with Moroccan PM Saad-Eddine El Othmani Peter Mutharika, President of Malawi and Filipe Nyusi, president of Mozambique at the request of the Governement.
Meanwhile William held his own meetings at Buckingham Palace with Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Adda and Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda.
And it emerged that the Prince of Wales had hosted Nigeria’s President Mohammaddu Buhari at Dumfries House in Scotland on Sunday.
The day-long summit was held to highlight the strength of the relationship between the UK and African nations, promoting the breadth and quality of investment opportunities across the continent and to show the UK’s commitment to supporting economic development in Africa, including through the creation of new jobs and partnerships.
Harry had agreed to attend today’s summit before the Sussexes sensationally quit 11 days ago, and prior to quitting, he would almost certainly have been there to support his older sibling, who for the first time was asked by the Queen to host a major state occasion.
Today it was claimed the Queen and Prince Charles decided not to strip Prince Harry of their HRH titles and Duke and Duchess of Sussex rank to avoid looking ‘petty’.
On Sunday night Harry told an event for his HIV prevention charity Sentebale he had ‘no other option’ but to quit his role.
Her Majesty is said to have considered stripping the couple of their most prized titles and instead referring to them as the Earl and Countess of Dumbarton – putting them at the same level as Edward and Sophie, Earl and Countess of Wessex.
However, the Queen and Prince Charles are believed to have felt preventing the couple from using ‘HRH’ in public and for commercial use – while still officially retaining the title – was a sufficient enough change.
A source told the Evening Standard: ‘The Sussex title is one of the ancient royal dukedoms given to him ahead of his wedding to Meghan, along with other titles. Removing it was seriously considered and discussed at the highest level.’
Today, Harry was at the UK-Africa Investment Summit in Greenwich for a number of private meetings with heads of state in one of his final events as a senior royal this morning.
After the prince hosted meetings with the presidents of Malawi and Mozambique and the prime minister of Morocco he posed with Mr Johnson.
The VIPs then rushed to a private room at the Intercontinental Hotel for an informal ‘catch-up’ chat – but unusually they insisted no No 10 or Palace aides were present to ensure the talks were kept private.
While brother William separately met with Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo and President of Rwanda Paul Kagame at Buckingham Palace earlier today.
MailOnline understands Harry has no more official engagements in his diary after today and is expected to fly to Vancouver imminently to be reunited with Archie and Meghan, who he has not seen for almost a fortnight.
It is not known when he will return but a Sussex source told MailOnline there is ‘more to come’ in Britain for the prince before the spring.
During a visit to Prospect House in Wroughton, the Duchess of Cornwall broke her silence on Prince Harry and Meghan Markle stepping down as royals, saying the couple would be missed.
Camilla, 72, was asked for her thought on Mexit during a visit to the Prospect Hospice in Wroughton, as she helped to celebrate the facility’s 40th anniversary year.
While meeting hospice staff, the wife of Prince Charles was asked by a reporter: ‘Will you miss Harry and Meghan?’. Camilla smiled and replied: ‘Of course’.
As Harry prepares to jet out of London for Canada, it has emerged:
Harry has defiantly backed an Army charity amid claims he is grieving after the Queen and Prince Charles’ insisted he is stripped of his official military roles for quitting.
He used the Sussex Royal Instagram account to celebrate the 10th birthday of the Walking With The Wounded charity and shared a series of photographs of him supporting them around the world.
Harry must step away from his three official military roles but has vowed to always maintain his links with his fellow soldiers and today praised ‘the resilience and strength’ of those ‘injured in service to their country’.
The emotive Instagram post said: ‘The Duke has worked hard to raise awareness over the years, including an expedition to the North Pole in 2011, trekking across the South Pole with 12 injured servicemen from the UK, the US and the Commonwealth in 2013, and joining wounded veterans for their incredible 1,000-mile walk of Britain in 2015!’
The pointed social media message came as an insider alleged that Harry is desperately sad about being stripped of his roles as Captain General of the Royal Marines, the ceremonial head of the Corps; Honorary Air Commandant of the Royal Air Force Base Honington, and Honorary Commodore-in-Chief of Small Ships and Diving, Royal Naval Command.
Kensington Palace has refused to discuss Harry’s private schedule, but he is almost certain to fly out to Canada to see his family after today with no more UK events pencilled in and staff being let go at the couple’s Frogmore Cottage home already.
On Sunday night Harry spoke of his ‘great sadness’ at leaving the Royal Family and said he and Meghan had ‘no other option’ than to quit senior royal duties – but vowed the couple are ‘not just walking away’.
The Duke of Sussex was at a formal private dinner at the Ivy in Chelsea for Sentebale, the charity supporting young people affect by HIV and Aids that he founded in 2006, when he made the comments.
Insisting that the UK would always be his home, he maintained that his wife, Meghan, ‘upholds the same values as I do’ and was ‘excited’ and ‘hopeful’ about playing a full royal role after their wedding.
But he said now ‘there really was no other option’ but to step back – a decision which, he said, was ‘not one I made lightly’.
The duke paid a stirring tribute to his grandmother, calling her his ‘commander-in-chief’ and that he was ‘incredibly grateful’ to Her Majesty and the rest of his family for supporting him and Meghan.
He said: ‘Once Meghan and I were married, we were excited. We were hopeful and we were here to serve. For those reasons it brings me great sadness that it has come to this.
‘The decision that I have made for my wife and I to step back is not one I made lightly. It was so many months of talks after so many years of challenges and I know I haven’t always gotten it right but as far as this goes there really was no other option.’
It comes after Saturday’s statement from the Queen that Harry and Meghan will ‘not use their HRH titles’, as they look to forge a new life in North America.
As well as returning the £2.4 million spent on a lavish refurbishment of Frogmore Cottage, they will pay a commercial rent – estimated at up to £360,000 a year – to retain it as their British home.
The Duke of Sussex added: ‘What I want to make clear is we’re not walking away and we certainly aren’t walking away from you.
‘Our hope was to continue serving the queen, the commonwealth and my military associations but without public funding.
‘Unfortunately that wasn’t possible. I’ve accepted this knowing that it doesn’t change who I am or how committed I am but I hope that helps you understand what it had come to that I would step my family back from all I have ever known to take a step forward into what I hope can be a peaceful life.’
The deal hammered out at Sandringham on Saturday stipulates that the pair, who will be known as Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, will cease to be working members of the Royal Family from this spring and will not perform any official duties on behalf of the Queen – effectively leaving ‘The Firm’ completely.
By quitting their senior royal roles, they will be told to stop using their HRH titles.
On Sunday, Harry said the couple would continue to lead a life of service and were taking a ‘huge leap of faith.’
He added: ‘I will continue to be the same man who holds his country dear and dedicates his life to supporting the causes, charities and military communities that are so important to me.
‘Together you have given me an education about living and this role has taught me more about what it right and just than I could ever have imagined.
‘We are taking a leap of faith so thank you for giving me the courage to take this next step.’
In an adorable moment, Harry also revealed his son Archie, who is in Canada with Meghan, recently saw snow for the first time.
He told the audience: ‘It has been our privilege to serve you, and we will continue to lead a life of service. So in that respect, nothing changes.
‘It has also been a privilege to meet so many of you and to feel your excitement for our son Archie – who saw snow for the first time the other day and thought it was bloody brilliant!
‘I will always have the utmost respect for my grandmother, my commander-in-chief, and I am incredibly grateful to her and the rest of my family for the support they have shown Meghan and I over the last few months.
Harry’s grandmother the Queen issued an emotional statement on Saturday, saying she recognised the ‘challenges’ the couple had faced over the past year.
Unusually, she used the first names of her grandson and his family in a public message.
The Queen said: ‘Following many months of conversations and more recent discussions, I am pleased that together we have found a constructive and supportive way forward for my grandson and his family.
‘Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much loved members of my family.’
She added: ‘I recognise the challenges they have experienced as a result of intense scrutiny over the last two years and support their wish for a more independent life.
‘I want to thank them for all their dedicated work across this country, the Commonwealth and beyond, and am particularly proud of how Meghan has so quickly become one of the family.
‘It is my whole family’s hope that today’s agreement allows them to start building a happy and peaceful new life.’
In statement issued previously on behalf of the couple by Buckingham Palace, they said that under the agreement they understood they were ‘required’ to step back from royal duties.
Earning money from lucrative contracts and still remaining active members of the monarchy would have been problematic and has caused issues for royals who have tried to straddle the two positions in the past.
Meghan and Harry have already begun a transition phase of living in Canada and the UK.
The duchess is in the Commonwealth country with son Archie, where the Sussexes spent six weeks over the festive period.
The move was agreed by the Queen, Prince of Wales and Duke of Cambridge following the Sussexes’ unprecedented statement released earlier this month.
It is understood the couple will now spend the majority of their time in Canada, with Harry expected to join his wife sometime this week.
The Sussexes keep the style of HRH – His or Her Royal Highness – but the statement issued on their behalf said it will no longer be used from the spring ‘as they are no longer working members of the royal family’.
Harry’s mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, was stripped of her HRH in 1996 following her divorce from Charles.
The duke will continue to work with his charities and organisations like the Rugby Football League and Sentebale – his Africa-based charity supporting youngsters with HIV – and the duchess will remain with her good causes.
Harry will give up a Commonwealth role and his three military appointments, the most prominent being Captain General Royal Marines.
All the new arrangements are due to come into effect in the spring and will be reviewed by Buckingham Palace in 12 months.
Saturday’s statement from the Queen said they will ‘not use their HRH titles’, which appeared to suggest sacrificing the three-letter prefix was the price of their newfound freedom.
But the Palace and Sussex households have now been accused of purposefully fudging the statement after it transpired Harry and Meghan have not been stripped of the title, but have just agreed not to deploy it.
Commentator Carole Malone angrily tweeted: ‘So Harry and Meghan haven’t actually been stripped of their HRH title.
‘They will keep HRH in name but will not use it. So how is that going to be monitored as they jet around the world making millions?’
Minutes after the Queen’s announcement, a communiqué on the Sussexes’ website referred to the couple as ‘Their Royal Highness’, immediately sparking confusion.
But it is understood they will abandon using the title this spring when Harry and Meghan officially cut ties with the Family.
On Friday Harry dined for around three hours at Mr Dyer’s Brook House Pub in Fulham ahead of the bombshell announcement.
He wore a grey polo shirt to the New King’s Road venue and was said to have been acting like a ‘normal’ customer before leaving at around 11pm.
A witness told Fabulous: ‘He seemed very happy, relaxed.
‘He was sat in the middle of seven guys and they spent a good few hours laughing and joking.
‘He seems like he was just a normal guy enjoying a few beers and a meal with his pals.’
The eatery, which sits over the road from Eel Brook Common, offers main meals of up to £25 – for the roast Cornish cod.
Harry has previously been seen out drinking down the road in The Cross Keys in Chelsea, as well as Bunga Bunga just over the Thames in Battersea.