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Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex have made their first official appearance together since their announcement that they will step back from the royal family plunged the institution into crisis.
The couple attended an awards ceremony to honor injured service personnel in London on Thursday, braving rain in the UK capital and cheering as an attendee proposed to his girlfriend in front of the pair.
It marked Meghan’s first appearance in the UK for weeks. The Duchess has spent most of the year in Canada, where the couple are expected to move when their roles as senior royals officially end on March 31.
Harry and Meghan arrived at the Endeavour Fund Awards to cheers from supporters – and at least one audible boo – entering the venue under an umbrella.
During the event, Harry said he was “proud” to serve the Queen.
“Meghan and I are so happy to be back here with you,” he said during his speech, before he and his wife handed out awards.
“Being able to serve Queen and country is something we all are rightly proud of, and it never leaves us. Once served, always serving,” he added.
Harry also paid tribute to the service personnel in attendance. “Leaving the military and hanging up your uniform is, we know, an incredibly hard thing to do,” he said. “But being forced to hang it up due to injury, beyond your control, can be even more difficult to accept.”
“It can take time and effort to recognize the fact that it is something that happened to you, rather than something that’s wrong with you – so please don’t ever forget that.”
The couple also watched and applauded as an attendee at the event proposed to his girlfriend. His new fiancée told Britain’s PA Media news agency that the pair were invited to speak with the royals after the event, receiving their congratulations in person.
And several social media commentators applauded a sparkling photo of the duke and duchess, looking at each other under Harry’s umbrella, taken by photographer Samir Hussein as the couple arrived at the awards.
On Saturday, Harry and Meghan are expected to attend an annual performance at London’s Royal Albert Hall to raise money for the Royal Marines Charity and CLIC Sargent, a UK cancer charity for children.
Last week, Harry returned to the UK to fulfill a handful of duties alone, including dropping in on a recording session with Jon Bon Jovi.
They will begin a 12-month transition period on March 31, as they work on establishing their nonprofit organization.