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Harry and Meghan pay their respects to war heroes at Anzac memorial unveiling

Harry and Meghan attended the opening of the memorial. Credit: PA

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex paid tribute to Australia and New Zealand’s war dead as Harry unveiled an extension to the Anzac memorial at a sombre ceremony in Sydney.

Harry, wearing his Blues & Royals tropical dress, medals and Knight Commander of the Victorian Order, also sported the insignia of his new position as the Queen’s personal aide-de-camp for the occasion in the city’s Hyde Park on Saturday.

The 34-year-old was joined by Meghan, in a black Emilia Wickstead dress and black Philip Treacy hat, as the couple attended the opening of the memorial which commemorates those who fell in the First World War, as well as conflicts in Korea, Afghanistan, Iraq and the Colonial Wars.

The opening of the original Anzac Memorial in 1934 Credit: City of Sydney Archives/PA

The structure was initially designed in the 1930s by Bruce Dellit, but, following the Great Depression, the finances were not available to make the architect’s vision – which includes a four-tier cascading waterfall – a reality.

Governor General David Hurley welcomed the couple to the monument, where Harry formally opened the new £22 million centenary wing underneath the main memorial.

He led them down into the depths of the new extension, where they were treated to a traditional Welcome to Country ceremony by two Aboriginal men.

The Duke wore his Blues and Royals tropical dress, while the Duchess opted for a black Emilia Wickstead dress Credit: Ian Vogler/PA

Robert Canning, 47, of the Gumbaynggirr people, greeted the couple with a didgeridoo performance.

He said: “We’re doing a smoking ceremony to get rid of bad spirits and bring in good spirits and welcome everyone.

“It was very nice to meet the royals – I just hope they enjoyed my didgeridoo playing.”

Twins Krystal and Sienna Dawson presented the royal couple with a medallion and a painting during the visit.

The girls, aged nine, are from the Koomurri Aboriginal Dance Troupe and both said they were nervous about meeting and performing for Harry and Meghan.

Krystal, who did an Aboriginal art floral painting, said: “They said hi and ‘nice to meet you’.”

The medallion, presented by Sienna, said “play the game”, the motto of the Beverly Hills public school which they attend.

She said: “I didn’t want to dance at first, but then it was fun.”

The soil collection at the Hall of Memory Credit: Brett Boardman/PA

The Sussexes then looked at the walls which contained soil from 1701 spots across New South Wales, representing every town, suburb and district from addresses of those who had enlisted in the First World War.

On the floor was a large stone circle, lined with 100 phials of soil from battlefields across the world, showing all the places the state’s personnel have served.

The parents-to-be were told nearly four in every ten Australian men signed up for the war effort, with 164,000 of the 420,000 coming from New South Wales.

Meghan admired the thousands of stars which cover the domed ceiling of the building – representing men and women from the state who served in the First World War – while Harry looked solemn and contemplative.

The party then walked down the steps of the monument to an open air ceremony.

Credit: PA

Harry formally opened the extension with a plaque that read: “This memorial extension was opened by a grandson of the Queen on the 25th October 2018”.

The simple message – designed to focus on those lost rather than the person performing the ceremony – was an echo of the plaque unveiled by Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester, in 1934 which said: “Opened by a son of the King”.

Harry and Meghan also laid a wreath – their first one as a married couple.

The hand-written message under Harry’s cypher read: “In grateful memory of those who paid the ultimate sacrifice and in recognition of the men and women for whom the scars of war endure.”

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Choristers then sang one of Princess Diana’s favourite hymns, which was sung at both her 1981 wedding and funeral in 1997, I vow to thee my country.

The completion of the extension coincides with the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War.

Harry and Meghan then took in the Jaguar Land Rover Driving Challenge at the city’s Cockatoo Island as part of the Invictus Games.

They are due to attend a reception hosted by New South Wales premier Gladys Berejiklian later before the opening ceremony at the Sydney Opera House.