Duke and Duchess of Sussex make first appearance as a married couple at Prince Charles’ 70th birthday party
The Duke of Sussex has paid tribute to his father, the Prince of Wales, in an affectionate speech in which he teased him about royal life. The Duke told a garden party full of charity guests that they may view the Prince’s enthusiastic handwritten letters with “joy and perhaps trepidation”, ribbing him for celebrating his birthday six months early with the words: “How very Royal!” Wearing a cream dress from British label Goat and Philip Treacey hat, the Duchess appeared to have conformed quickly to the style of Royal women, choosing long sleeves and nude tights for a look noticeably more demure than before her wedding day. Joining her first public engagement as a member of the Royal family, she appeared to get on famously with the Duchess of Cornwall, both failing to suppress their laughter when the Duke’s speech was interrupted by a bee. Losing his place half way through, the Duke had waved his hand to swat it away from his ear, telling the crowd: “That bee really got me.” The Duke and Duchess attended their first engagement since the wedding on Saturday to support the Prince at a Buckingham Palace garden party to celebrate his charity work ahead of his 70th birthday. Perhaps mindful of overshadowing him, the couple posed for photographs and spoke to four small groups of people before making a quiet exit. As people congratulated them on their wedding, both politely said “thank you” before moving the conversation on to talk about guests’ charity work. One woman, Sophie Rogers, 26, gave the Duchess what appears to be her first gift as Her Royal Highness: a handmade crystal necklace from her own studio, High Vibe Designs. Ms Rogers had received a grant from The Prince’s Trust two years ago, going on to start her own successful business. “Oh how sweet, thank you,” said the Duchess. “I was just admiring your necklace, it’s beautiful.” Addressing his “Pa” in the only speech of the afternoon, the Duke said: “It really is amazing to see so many of you here today for this family celebration. “I say ‘family’ because this is a chance for us to honour The Prince of Wales’s work over the last forty plus years, with all of his charities, patronages and military associations – and, as you all know, my father views all of your organisations like an extended family.” Telling his father he had been struck by the “long list” of guests invited, and the range of charities the Prince had worked with, he asked 6,000 assembled guests: “Who amongst you has not known the joy, and perhaps trepidation at receiving a handwritten note in response to some news shared from your organisation, urging you on and asking for more to be done to address this issue or that?” “Who has not come away from a meeting with my father, their head spinning with a dozen new ideas which he wants to get underway urgently, having met a group of people or read something that has fired his imagination and started the flow of ideas.” “His enthusiasm and energy are truly infectious; it has certainly inspired William and I to get involved in issues we care passionately about and to do whatever we can to make a difference.” “In fact, many of the issues William and I now work on are subjects we were introduced to by our father growing up.” Acknowledging the Prince’s instructions that the party should “not be about him”, the Duke added: “So, Pa, while I know that you’ve asked that today not be about you, you must forgive me if I don’t listen to you – much like when I was younger – and instead, I ask everyone here to say a huge thank you to you, for your incredible work over nearly 50 years.” “Work that has given self-confidence and opportunity to thousands of young people who might not have had the best start in life; Or to champion causes like climate change long before almost anyone else was talking about it; and above all, for your vision and ability to bring people together to make change happen.” “You have inspired William and I, and looking out here today, it is clear to see that we are not alone.” “His passion and dedication are remarkable and seeing so many of you here today, I cannot fail but to be in awe of the drive he has had for so many years, to contribute to the enrichment of society both in this country and around the world.” “You have created an incredible body of work that has, and will continue to make such a huge difference to so many people’s lives both here and around the world.” “With that, Ladies and Gentlemen, please can I ask you to join me in wishing The Prince of Wales a very Happy Birthday – six months ahead of his 70th.” “How very Royal.”
After finishing the speech, father and son embraced with a kiss on both cheeks, before the four members of the Royal family walked down the steps of Buckingham Palace into the garden to pose for a photograph with charity leaders. The two Duchesses appeared to get on famously, making eye contact and laughing as they were arranged in suitably smart fashion for a photograph. When Meghan embarked on meeting some charity representatives, she extended her hand to shake before most had a chance to curtsey to her in her new position as HRH. “I knew I was going to curtsey by she shook my hand,” said Diana Langson, from 2nd Battalion Irish Regiment of Canada. “They were both so friendly and so kind and genuine when they spoke.” “We offered them congratulations on the wedding and they just said thank you. They’re probably tired of talking about it!” “It has been a phenomenal day, and the opportunity to meet them all is overwhelming.”
The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall went on to mingle with guests for another hour, treated to a performance of The Goons’ Ying Tong Song by a ukulele orchestra. More than 6,000 people were expected at the garden party, all from the charities and military associations most closely linked with the Prince, on the grounds of Buckingham Palace, for music, speeches and a customary cup of tea. The Duchess of Cornwall attended the garden party at her husband’s side, as he was hailed for his lifetime of work dedicated to the charity sector. The Prince will actually turn 70 on November 14, with this an early public celebration of the milestone. He is expected to have a private party for family and friends closer to the day. The attendance of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex reflects both the shared interest of father and son of much of their charity work and the growing bond between the Duchess and her new family. The Duchess, who asked her father-in-law to accompany up part of the aisle for the St George’s Chapel service, is said to have found much common ground with him in a series of private family gatherings. She is likely to have been particularly touched by his chivalry towards her mother, Doria Ragland, during the wedding, where he was seen to reach out his hand to her in the chapel and offer his arm as they walked down the stairs. The Duke, too, has offered an increasingly public insight into his relationship with his father this year, beginning with a interview on the Today programme when Prince Harry acted as guest editor, and continuing with a joint appearance at a conservation conference. At the wedding on Saturday, the groom was seen to say “thank you, Pa”, as his father walked Meghan Markle to the altar. Today, the Prince of Wales’ 70th Birthday Patronage Celebration will see the Royal family joined by members of the public from 386 of The Prince of Wales’ patronages and 20 of his military affiliations. A number of guests from the emergency services – police, fire, ambulance, mountain rescue, and RNLI – with 100 cadets from Youth United helping out on the day. One cadet who was present at the Manchester Arena during the bombing last year will also be there, on the anniversary of the attack. Guests will be treated to musical performances from the Band of the Welsh Guards, the mixed voice Borough Welsh Choir, the Caldicot Male Voice Choir, the National Youth Pipe Band and a gospel choir.