Harry and Meghan join royal family for Platinum Jubilee thanksgiving service as Queen watches on TV

0306022 Harry and Meghan St Paul's arrival, PA
Harry and Meghan arrive at St Paul's for the thanksgiving service. Credit: PA

The royal family has come together with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex in honour of the missing Queen at a thanksgiving service to mark the Monarch's Platinum Jubilee.

The Queen - who has ongoing mobility issues - is is not attending the service in person after suffering “discomfort” following a busy first day of festivities including a double balcony appearance and a beacon lighting.

Speaking to an attendee at a reception after the service, the Duchess of Cambridge said the Queen is "fine" but had found Thursday "very tiring".

Watch ITV News Royal Editor Chris Ship's roundup of the first day of celebrations for the Queen's Platinum Jubilee

The 96-year-old was instead represented at St Paul's Cathedral by Prince Charles and will watched the service on television from Windsor Castle.

Harry and Meghan joined the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge as nearly 40 royals gathered for the celebration in central London.

It was the first time the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have been on full public view alongside the Windsors since they quit the monarchy for a new life in the US two years ago.

Harry and Meghan arrive at the cathedral to cheers

Crowds cheered the pair as they arrived, with the couple smiling and waving at onlookers.

They processed through the nave of the church hand in hand, with Meghan smiling and Harry biting his lip at times.

Indicative of their new more-minor position within the royal family, they were sat in the second row from the front behind the Wessex family and the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, with Harry next to Princess Eugenie’s husband Jack Brooksbank and Meghan next to Princess Margaret’s daughter Lady Sarah Chatto.

Across the aisle and on the front row were the more senior members of the royal family, including the Prince of Wales who was representing the Queen, and the Duchess of Cornwall, both in ornate chairs, and Harry’s brother the Duke of Cambridge and Duchess of Cambridge, the Princess Royal and her husband, Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence.

At one point, Harry was spotted with his mouth open, appearing to be enjoying a joke with other royals – most likely Zara and Mike Tindall – seated across the aisle.

Beatrice, sitting a few seats down, was also grinning in the same direction.

Harry was also seen laughing with Mr Brooksbank, and joined the Tindalls and cousin Peter Phillips for a chat on the steps afterwards.

Royal Editor Chris Ship tells Mary Nightingale what you need to know about the future challenges for the royal family and why we'll never see scenes like the Platinum Jubilee parties again:

The Sussexes attended the Trooping celebrations at Horse Guards on Thursday, but stayed out of the spotlight inside the Duke of Wellington’s former office with more than 30 members of the family.

Only working members of the royal family appeared on the balcony.

Prince Andrew has been absent from the celebrations after testing positive for Covid-19.

During Friday's thanksgiving service, tributes were paid to the Queen’s “70 years of faithful and dedicated service” as 2,000 people including Boris Johnson, Cabinet ministers, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, first ministers of the devolved governments and former prime ministers filled the historic church.

The PM and his wife Carrie Johnson were greeted with loud boos and also cheers as they arrived at St Paul's.

It comes after months of controversy for Mr Johnson and the Tory government following a number of rule-breaking Number 10 parties during lockdown.

The crowd reacts to Prime Minister Boris Johnson's arrival

Public service was the theme at the heart of the religious event, with 400 people who are recipients of honours, including NHS and key workers who were recognised for their work during the pandemic, invited.

Ahead of delivering the service, the Archbishop of York described the prospect as a “slightly terrifying gig”.

The Most Rev Stephen Cottrell had to step in at the 11th hour after the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, contracted coronavirus.

In his sermon, the archbishop compared the monarch’s well-known love of horse racing to her long reign, saying the Queen is “still in the saddle” and thanking her for “staying the course”.

During his sermon, Mr Cottrell told the congregation he was “sorry” the Queen could not attend, but glad there is “still more to come”.

There were smiles from the Earl and Countess of Wessex, as well as Zara Tindall – a champion horse rider – as the archbishop referred to the Queen’s love of horse racing, while the Princess Royal nodded her head in approval.

He said: “Now, we all know that the Queen likes horse racing. And your Majesty, I’m rather assuming you’re watching this on the television.

“I don’t have any great tips for the Derby tomorrow, but since the scriptures describe life as a race set before us, let me observe that your long reign reflects the distance of Aintree more than the sprints of Epsom.

“Certainly, less dressage than most people imagine.

“But with endurance, through times of change and challenge, joy and sorrow, you continue to offer yourself in the service of our country and the Commonwealth.

“Your Majesty, we’re sorry you’re not with us this morning , but we are so glad you are still in the saddle. And we are all glad that there is still more to come."

In his address, the archbishop said the best leaders are those who “know how to be led” and “lead for others, not themselves”.

“People whose heart’s desire is to serve the common good and build up the common life; who don’t try to do it all themselves, or act in their own strength alone; people who take a longer view; and who seek out places of replenishing, even places where they might learn the mind of Christ,” he said.

“I say this today, knowing that in Her Majesty the Queen we see an example of this kind of service; a staunch constancy and a steadfast consistency; a faithfulness to God, an obedience to a vocation that is the bedrock of her life.”

Watch the full Trooping the Colour ceremony held on Thursday

Outside of the cathedral, hundreds of people gathered, some wearing Union flag hats and others hanging flags and bunting over the railings on the approach.

As they waited for the service to end and for the royals to come out, the crowd sang the National Anthem.

After the thanksgiving service, members of the royal family and senior politicians made their way to a reception at London's Guildhall hosted by the Lord Mayor of London. Harry and Meghan did not attend.

A number of other events to mark the jubilee are planned for the weekend including:

Platinum Party at the Palace - Saturday, June 4

Platinum Party At The Palace concert will take place at Buckingham Palace, featuring Queen + Adam Lambert, Alicia Keys, Hans Zimmer, Ella Eyre, Craig David, Mabel, Elbow and George Ezra amongst others.

The ticket ballot has now closed but if weren't a lucky prize draw winner, it will be broadcast live.

Platinum Jubilee Pageant - Sunday, June 5

The Pageant on Sunday will combine street arts, theatre, music, circus, carnival and costume. The ambitious £15 million pageant is split into four acts: For Queen and Country with a military parade; The Time of Our Lives progressing through seven decades of culture, music and fashion; Let’s Celebrate telling the story of the Queen’s life in 12 chapters with corgi puppets and carnival creations; and the Happy and Glorious musical spectacle.

Forming an important part of the pageant is the ‘River of Hope’ procession where secondary school pupils from across the UK will carry aloft 200 silk flags featuring artwork from children of their hopes and aspirations for the planet over the next 70 years.

The effect is intended to emulate a moving river.

A grand finale fit for a queen - Sunday, June 5

Close to 200 national treasures will take to the stage to serenade the Queen by singing the national anthem at the grand finale of the Platinum Jubilee festivities.

Stars including Sir David Jason, Harry Redknapp, Sir Cliff Richard, Sandie Shaw, Felicity Kendal, Joe Wicks and Holly Willoughby will join Ed Sheeran in a mass rendition of God Save The Queen outside Buckingham Palace at the end of the pageant on Sunday.

The monarch is expected to appear on the balcony – the second of her planned appearances on the famous frontage over the weekend – to bring the national commemorations to a close.

Listen to the Royal Rota podcast