'I was naive marrying Harry', says Meghan as Oprah gets underway

Kate made ME cry: Meghan denies making Duchess of Cambridge cry and says bust-up with her sister-in-law over flowergirls made HER cry in the run-up to her wedding but she has forgiven her

  • Meghan cradles baby bump throughout the interview and reveals she and Harry will reveal gender to Oprah
  • She said she was initially welcomed by everyone in the royal family, describing meeting Queen for first time
  • But later she said she was ‘silenced’ and felt trapped in palace – comparing it to being in lockdown for Covid 
  • Harry and Meghan have claimed that their controversial Oprah interview will be ‘last word’ on Royal family
  • Prince Harry and Prince William must display a united front later this summer when they unveil statue of Diana

Meghan Markle today revealed in her Oprah interview that the Duchess of Cambridge made her cry before she married Harry – but insists she has forgiven Kate who bought her flowers to apologise.

Ms Markle, who said she was ‘silenced’ by Buckingham Palace officials and felt lonely in London, she was asked about a row with Kate that made headlines around the world after a falling out over dresses for the flowergirls. 

Harry and Meghan’s TV interview with Oprah Winfrey has started in the US and began with Meghan Markle showing her growing ‘baby bump’ and revealed she and her husband will tell Oprah its gender on the show. The Sussexes also showed Oprah around their new mansion in LA, which has chickens.

Meghan then denied making Kate cry before her wedding in 2018 – and said the opposite had happened. Oprah asked the Duchess: ‘Was there a situation where she (Kate) might have cried? Or she could have cried?’

But the Duchess of Sussex replied: ‘No, no. The reverse happened. And I don’t say that to be disparaging to anyone, because it was a really hard week of the wedding. And she was upset about something, but she owned it, and she apologised.

‘And she brought me flowers and a note, apologising. And she did what I would do if I knew that I hurt someone, right, to just take accountability for it.’ Meghan added that it was ‘shocking’ that the ‘reverse of that would be out in the world’.

She continued: ‘A few days before the wedding, she was upset about something pertaining – yes, the issue was correct – about flower girl dresses, and it made me cry, and it really hurt my feelings.

‘And I thought, in the context of everything else that was going on in those days leading to the wedding, that it didn’t make sense to not be just doing whatever– what everyone else was doing, which was trying to be supportive, knowing what was going on with my dad and whatnot.’

Meghan also said: ‘It wasn’t a confrontation, and I actually think it’s… I don’t think it’s fair to her to get into the details of that, because she apologised.

‘What was hard to get over was being blamed for something that not only I didn’t do but that happened to me. And the people who were part of our wedding were going to our comms team and saying: ‘I know this didn’t happen. I don’t have to tell them what actually happened’.’

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s TV interview with Oprah Winfrey has started in the US and began with Meghan Markle showing her growing ‘baby bump’ and revealed she and her husband will reveal its gender on the show. 

The Duchess of Sussex had claimed she entered the Royal Family ‘naively’ and didn’t do any research about her husband or the institution before entering it.  

Describing meeting the Queen for the first time at Windsor and that she was shocked when she was told by Harry would need to curtsy to Her Majesty.

Meghan said: ‘That was when the penny dropped. We just practiced and then walked in. We went in and i met her and apparently I did a very deep curtsy, I don’t remember it. then we just sat there and chatted. I grew up in LA, I see celebrities all the time. it’s not the same. This is a completely different ball game’. 

Ms Markle said she was welcomed by the royals, but then claimed it became more difficult in the run up to the wedding. 

She said: ‘Everyone in my world was given very clear directive from the moment the world knew Harry and I were dating to always say “No comment.” That’s my friends, my mom and dad.

‘I did anything they told me to do. Of course I did, because it was also through the lens of “And we’ll protect you.” So, even as things started to roll out in the media that I didn’t see but my friends would call me and say, “meg, this is really bad,” because I didn’t see it, I’d go, “Don’t worry. I’m being protected.”

‘And everything started to really worsen that I came to understand that not only was I not being protected but that they were willing to lie to protect other members of the family, but they weren’t willing to tell the truth to protect me and my husband.’

 

The couple’s decision to speak to the queen of US interviewers on CBS has caused a transatlantic row with Buckingham Palace after Meghan accused the royals of smearing them. 

The Duchess of Sussex, who brokered the interview, has already accused ‘The Firm’ of ‘perpetuating falsehoods’ about her and Harry and said they refused to be ‘silenced’ any more.

The Sussexes have been branded ‘selfish’ and ‘disrespectful’ to go ahead with the shown when Harry’s 99-year-old grandfather Prince Philip is in hospital recovering from heart surgery. 

The interview, expected to be viewed by tens of millions of people in the US and millions more around the globe, is considered the most important piece of royal TV since Harry’s mother spoke to the BBC’s Martin Bashir in 1995 after she separated from Prince Charles. 

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have today insisted that their Oprah interview would be the ‘last word’ on their rift with the Royal Family. The couple, who will have their second child later this year, said they felt they ‘needed to have their say’ but now want to ‘move on’.   

Hours before the broadcast the Queen spoke to the UK in a TV address to mark Commonwealth Day, where Her Majesty stressed the importance of staying in touch with family and friends during the ‘testing times’ caused by coronavirus. In her speech, the Queen said: ‘We can all live a life of service. Service is universal’.

In audio, played over new footage of the 94-year-old sovereign walking past the flags of the ‘family of nations’ at Windsor Castle, the head of state referred to ‘friendship and a spirit of unity’ – all qualities currently absent from her relationship with her grandson.

She said the Commonwealth – which she had keenly hoped Harry and Meghan would play a significant role in before they quit – had shown throughout the pandemic ‘courage, commitment and selfless dedication to duty’.

In a show of solidarity she was backed by her son Prince Charles and Prince William and Kate, who praised the bravery and selflessness of health workers during the pandemic.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have insisted their interview with Oprah Winfrey would be the ‘last word’ on them quitting as senior royals 

Meghan Markle has spoken of  ‘The Firm’ – a mafia-like term used to describe the Royal Family – had tried to smear and silence her

Harry is said to want to concentrate on his relationship with Prince William, which has been under strain since the Sussexes quit the UK for Los Angeles.

Meghan Markle says she would never postpone tell-all Oprah interview and claims the palace is using Prince Philip’s health as an ‘excuse to keep her muzzled’

Meghan Markle says she would never ask to postpone Sunday’s release of her tell-all interview with Oprah Winfrey and claims the Royal Family is using Prince Philip ‘s health as an excuse to keep her ‘muzzled,’ sources have told DailyMail.com.

Mounting pressure has been put on Meghan, Harry and CBS to push back the much-anticipated interview special out of respect for Harry’s grandfather Prince Philip, who is recovering from heart surgery.

But a Hollywood insider with ties to the Sussexes told DailyMail.com exclusively: ‘Even if Meghan had the choice to postpone the Oprah special she said she wouldn’t because it has absolutely nothing to do with Prince Philip and that this is just an excuse by the palace to keep her muzzled. 

‘Prince Harry has no say on the matter. What’s done is done. Meghan said now the whole world can see what she had to endure for months on end. No support whatsoever and now even across the pond, still no loyalty or support. ‘

The brothers will have to display a united front when they unveil a statue in honour of their mother Princess Diana in London later this year.

The Duke of Sussex and Duke of Cambridge will reunite once more as they unveil the commissioned statue of their mother at Kensington Palace on July 1 on what would have been her 60th birthday. Meghan is not expected to attend. 

Meghan and Harry’s interview has sparked the biggest crisis faced by the Royal Family since Princess Diana gave her infamous interview to Martin Bashir in 1995.  During the Panorama exclusive, the princess famously said: ‘There were three of us in this marriage’ when asked about Camilla Parker-Bowles.  

The build up to two-hour interview, which aired overnight, sparked a toxic transatlantic war of words between supporters of the Sussexes and defenders of the British monarchy. 

With the gloves now off, pitting Windsor v Windsor, palace sources last night said they were refusing to be goaded into a ‘tit for tat’ with the Sussexes.

‘We are just not going to get drawn into the circus that is being created around this media interview,’ said one. ‘It helps no-one.’

Senior royals sources have made clear to the Mail that it is the Sussexes who have declared war on the palace, not the other way round.

A palace insider said the feeling was that courtiers ‘couldn’t have done any more for the couple than they did.’ ‘Not everything was handled brilliantly,’ said one. ‘But they were supported and given everything they demanded. And certainly nothing was done that warrants this. 

In extracts of the Oprah Winfrey interview released over the last few days, Meghan has criticised the constraints she faced as a working royal, and said it was ‘liberating’ to be able to ‘say yes’ to a request for an interview with the US chat show host. 

Prior to the interview’s broadcast, the Duchess of Sussex claimed royal aides blocked her from having a personal conversation with Oprah Winfrey in the months leading up to her wedding to Prince Harry.

Oprah revealed she called Meghan in February or March 2018 – two or three months before the royal wedding at Windsor Castle in May that year – to ask for an interview, but she declined because it was not ‘the right time’.

The Duchess said she remembered this talk with the US chat show queen ‘very well’ and ‘wasn’t even allowed to have this conversation with you personally’ because there had to be other people in the same room. 

Last week the Sussexes were urged to postpone their tell-all interview with Oprah after Prince Philip had major surgery after more than a fortnight in hospital.

Harry’s grandfather had the operation at St Bartholomew’s Hospital in the City of London – Britain’s top heart hospital – after being transferred there from the private King Edward VII Hospital in Marylebone where he was being treated for an infection.  

It came as a new clip released ahead of Harry and Meghan’s interview showed the Duchess of Sussex accusing The Firm of ‘perpetuating falsehoods about us.’ 

She said: ‘I don’t know how they could expect that after all of this time we would still just be silent if there is an active role that The Firm is playing in perpetuating falsehoods about us.’

The Duchess added: ‘And, if that comes with risk of losing things, there is a lot that has been lost already.’  

Meghan’s views on ‘The Firm’ came as Buckingham Palace announced they will launch an investigation into allegations that Markle bullied royal aides. The Sussexes deny bullying and claimed they were smeared.

The Queen launched the unprecedented inquiry into allegations that Meghan and Harry bullied their staff – leaving royal employees ‘shaken’ by ‘unhappy memories’ being brought up about a ‘toxic period’.

Devastating claims that the Duchess of Sussex inflicted ’emotional cruelty’ on underlings and ‘drove them out’ were ‘very’ concerning, Buckingham Palace said.

But as the bitter fallout surrounding the tell-all interview continues, the Duke of Sussex reportedly considers the unveiling of his mother’s statue ‘a priority’, a source told The Telegraph.  

A friend told the paper: ‘It was something they felt they wanted and needed to do but now they have done it, they feel a line has been drawn under that chapter of their lives and they want to move on.’ 

However there is still uncertainty about whether the Duke will also attend other upcoming events such as the Trooping the Colour on June 12 or the Duke of Edinburgh’s 100th birthday on June 10 due to arrival of his second child this summer.

The statue which is due to be unveiled was commissioned to mark the twentieth anniversary of Princess Diana’s death and recognise her positive impact in the UK and around the world.

It will be installed in the Sunken Garden of Kensington Palace on July 1 to mark The Princess’s 60th birthday. 

Prince William has barely spoken to his brother in recent months and their relationship is said to be ‘hanging by a thread’ – although Prince Charles is understood to have tried not to get involved.  

Meghan and Harry’s interview has sparked the biggest crisis faced by the Royal Family since Princess Diana gave her infamous interview to Martin Bashir in 1995. 

During the Panorama exclusive, the princess famously said: ‘There were three of us in this marriage’ when asked about Camilla Parker-Bowles. 


Prince William will display a united front with his brother when they unveil a statue in honour of their mother Princess Diana in July

Aides at the centre of palace intrigue

Melissa Touabti (right) is pictured with Robbie Williams’ wife Ayda for whom she previously worked

PA WHO QUIT AFTER WEDDING:

Melissa Touabti, the duchess’s former personal assistant, had previously worked for Robbie Williams and Madonna.

She played a key role in preparations for Meghan and Harry’s wedding in May 2018, but quit after just six months.

The Frenchwoman, 41, took a job with the billionaire Livingstone family – owners of the stately home Cliveden. 

THE AMERICAN SPIN DOCTOR:

Jason Knauf joined the royals in 2014, having acted as a ‘crisis management expert’ at the Royal Bank of Scotland.

The 36- year-old American, who completed his master’s at the London School of Economics, served as communications secretary to the ‘Fab Four’ of William, Kate, Harry and Meghan before the Cambridges and Sussexes created separate offices in March 2019.

Mr Knauf now heads William and Kate’s charitable foundation. 

THE AMERICAN SPIN DOCTOR: Jason Knauf (left) walks behind the couple at the Invictus Games in Toronto 

Simon Case in Dundee in 2019 

THE WHIZ-KID WHO RUNS WHITEHALL: 

Simon Case became the youngest head of the civil service for over a century when he took the post at the tender age of 41.

The Cambridge history graduate – a noted fan of tweed suits and Barbour jackets – had previously been the principal private secretary to successive Tory prime ministers, David Cameron and Theresa May. He also worked at spying centre GCHQ as a ‘director of strategy’.

His most recent role before becoming Cabinet Secretary last year was serving as private secretary to Prince William.

THE TOUGH TALKING AUSTRALIAN: 

Formerly the Queen’s assistant private secretary, Samantha Cohen had planned to quit Buckingham Palace in 2018. Instead, she agreed to stay on and help the duchess through her first months in the Royal Family.

The well-liked but tough-talking Australian became the Sussexes’ private secretary, but left in 2019 to work for the environmental charity Cool Earth. 

Meghan, Duchess of Sussex and Queen Elizabeth II (accompanied by Samantha Cohen) attend a ceremony to open the new Mersey Gateway Bridge on June 14, 2018 in Widnes, England 

THE PRINCES’ HR HEAD HONCHO: 

Experienced human resources director Samantha Carruthers worked for De Beers and investment bank Lazard before joining the royals.

Head of HR for Prince Charles and Prince William until 2019, she is now deputy chairman of the board of trustees for child bereavement charity Winston’s Wish. 

Samantha Carruthers worked for De Beers and investment bank Lazard before joining the royal 

While mounting pressure has been put on Meghan and Harry to push back the much-anticipated interview, a friend of the Sussexes told DailyMail.com that calls were an ‘excuse by the palace to keep her muzzled’. 

The source said: ‘Even if Meghan had the choice to postpone the Oprah special she said she wouldn’t because it has absolutely nothing to do with Prince Philip and that this is just an excuse by the palace to keep her muzzled.’ 

Reports have claimed Meghan could expose insider details of her supposed rift with the Duchess of Cambridge, but an Oprah interview source has insisted Meghan has nothing but ‘kind words’ to say about the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.  

Last week the Queen launched an unprecedented inquiry into allegations that Meghan and Harry bullied their staff – leaving royal employees ‘shaken’ by ‘unhappy memories’ being brought up about a ‘toxic period’ before the couple emigrated. 

The Duchess of Sussex is accused of ‘driving out’ two PAs and shattering the confidence of another member of Kensington Palace staff – with one former aide branding Prince Harry and his wife ‘outrageous bullies’ in The Times on Wednesday.

It also claimed the monarchy’s ‘men in gray suits’ were aware of the purported actions of the duchess – but did ‘absolutely nothing to protect people’. 

Meghan has denied the allegations and accused the newspaper of being ‘used by Buckingham Palace to peddle a wholly false narrative’ about her. 

Royal officials initially refused to comment, with sources telling MailOnline that aides and senior family members are focused on Prince Philip’s health problems in hospital.

But on Wednesday night, the Palace confirmed that its HR team will ‘look into’ the allegations, saying it ‘does not and will not tolerate bullying or harassment in the workplace’.

A  spokesperson said: ‘We are clearly very concerned about allegations in The Times following claims made by former staff of The Duke and Duchess of Sussex.  

‘Accordingly our HR team will look into the circumstances outlined in the article.

‘Members of staff involved at the time, including those who have left the Household, will be invited to participate to see if lessons can be learned.  

‘The Royal Household has had a Dignity at Work policy in place for a number of years and does not and will not tolerate bullying or harassment in the workplace.’ 

A royal source told the Daily Mail last night that the emergence of the bullying claims yesterday had ‘shaken’ many staff, both past and present, and brought up ‘many unhappy memories’ about a particularly ‘toxic period’. 

There is no timetable to the investigation but it is understood that any changes in policies and procedures will be shared publicly in an annual review expected later in the year. 

Meghan said The Times is being ‘used by Buckingham Palace to peddle a wholly false narrative based on misleading and harmful misinformation’ about her treatment of staff after former aides accused her of ’emotional cruelty and manipulation’, reducing them to tears and leaving them ‘shaking’ with fear.

Her lawyers said the former actress was ‘saddened by this latest attack on her character, particularly as someone who has been the target of bullying herself and is deeply committed to supporting those who have experienced pain and trauma’. 

Jason Knauf – the Sussexes’ then communications secretary who now heads the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s charitable foundation – made a bullying complaint in October 2018 in an apparent attempt to force Buckingham Palace to protect staff.

A source told the newspaper Harry begged his senior aide not to take the matter further, but it also reported lawyers for the duke and duchess deny the meeting took place and that Harry would not have interfered with staff matters.

Knauf reportedly sent an email outlining the duchess’s alleged actions to Simon Case – the Duke of Cambridge’s then private secretary and now the cabinet secretary – after conversations with Samantha Carruthers, the head of human resources. 

Case then forwarded it to Carruthers, who was based at Clarence House. 

The Times reported Knauf wrote in his email: ‘I am very concerned that the duchess was able to bully two PAs out of the household in the past year. The treatment of X was totally unacceptable.

‘The duchess seems intent on always having someone in her sights. 

‘She is bullying Y and seeking to undermine her confidence. 

‘We have had report after report from people who have witnessed unacceptable behavior towards Y.’ 

The bullying claims emerged in a 2018 email sent by Harry and Meghan’s press chief Jason Knauf, who now works for Prince William. This sparked an extraordinary chain of events where the Sussexes accused Buckingham Palace of smearing them. The Queen then launched an inquiry into the bullying claims

Knauf also made clear he was concerned nothing had been done, or would be done in future, to protect palace staff. 

He said Carruthers ‘agreed with me on all counts that the situation was very serious’, but added: ‘I remain concerned that nothing will be done’. 

Melissa Touabti, the second of Meghan’s personal assistants to leave, departed six months after the royal wedding after she ended up in tears, according to reports.

Lawyers for the duke and duchess said the Sussexes believed staff to be comfortable and happy.  

The article came as ITV1 confirmed the ViacomCBS show, called Oprah With Meghan and Harry, will be broadcast in the UK between 9pm and 11pm on Monday night, almost 24 hours after it is shown in the United States. 

Staff told The Times they have spoken out to give their story before the couple’s tell-all interview, claiming that when Meghan was urged to support palace staff she replied: ‘It’s not my job to coddle people.’ 

It is also claimed that the couple’s treatment of aides worried Harry’s brother William so much, because some staff were shared, that he and his most senior advisor, Case, hastened the split between the Sussex and the Cambridge households and the destruction of their joint foundation. 

Other extraordinary revelations in The Times include claims Meghan wore a pair of £500,000 diamond earrings to a dinner in Fiji in 2018 that were a wedding gift from Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia, three weeks after the US claims he approved the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Revealed: Meghan’s £500,000 diamond earrings were NOT ‘borrowed’ but a ‘wedding gift from Saudi Crown Prince’ – and worn by duchess three weeks after assassination of Jamal Khashoggi in consulate 

The Duchess of Sussex was again seen wearing the earrings one month later on November 14, 2018 as she was photographed leaving Kensington Palace to attend Prince Charles’s 70th birthday party at Buckingham Palace

Meghan Markle wore a pair of striking diamond earrings that were a wedding gift from Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia, who approved the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, it was claimed today.

Kensington Palace had said at the time of the formal dinner in Fiji in October 2018 – which took place three weeks after the killing at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul – that the jewelery was ‘borrowed’, without stating from whom.  

Lawyers for the Duchess of Sussex have now told The Times that she may have stated they were borrowed, but did not say they were borrowed from a jeweler – and denied that she had misled anyone about their provenance.

The newspaper was also told by Meghan’s team that every relevant member of royal staff knew who the earrings were from, and the duchess was unaware of rumors at the time that bin Salman was involved in the killing.

Bin Salman is not thought to have met Meghan or given her the earrings in person. The jewelery is considered Crown property because it was a gift from a foreign head of state, and she would not be allowed to sell them.  

The earrings Meghan wore for the black tie reception at the Grand Pacific Hotel in Suva, which was hosted by Fiji’s president Jioji Konrote, were later revealed as being made by celebrity designer Butani. 

 

And in a further twist Markle, a campaigner for women’s rights, told aides they were borrowed from a jeweler, rather than a present from a regime known for human rights abuses and the oppression of women. 

Lawyers for the Duchess of Sussex have told The Times that she may have stated they were borrowed, but did not say they were borrowed from a jeweler – and denied that she had misled anyone about their provenance. 

The newspaper claims that on the same official tour the duchess was seen being ushered out of an official engagement to a local market due to apparent security concerns. 

In fact, it says, Meghan had cut short the visit because she had ‘reservations’ about the organization UN Women, which had an involvement in the event. 

Daily Mail Royal Editor witnessed the aftermath and wrote today: ‘I was there at the time and witnessed Meghan turn and ‘hiss’ at a member of her entourage, clearly incandescent with rage about something, and demand to leave.

‘I later saw that same – female – highly distressed member of staff sitting in an official car, with tears running down her face. Our eyes met and she lowered hers, humiliation etched on her features’. 

Describing life working for Meghan and Harry, aides have claimed they ‘bent over backwards’ to help her when she arrived after the couple became engaged in 2017.

A source told The Times: ‘Everyone knew that the institution would be judged by her happiness’.

According to the Times their sources say two ‘senior’ members of royal staff were bullied by the duchess. An ex-employee alleged they had been ‘humiliated’.

Another aide described the experience of working for the Sussexes as ‘more like emotional cruelty and manipulation, which I guess could also be called bullying’.

Staff claimed they had occasion been reduced to tears after dealings with Meghan and one aide told a colleague ‘I can’t stop shaking’ as they anticipated a row with the duchess. 

Meghan’s lawyers vehemently deny she is a bully and said that one person had left the job because of misconduct. The Times said it could not corroborate that claim before publication last night.

The Mail also approached a spokesman for the Sussexes for comment. 

The Times said it was contacted by sources who felt a ‘partial version’ had emerged of Meghan’s two years as a working royal.

It makes clear they wished to tell their side in advance of Sunday’s ‘tell all’ television interview, which is likely to make uncomfortable viewing for Buckingham Palace. 

A spokesman for the Sussexes said in a statement to The Times: ‘Let’s just call this what it is – a calculated smear campaign based on misleading and harmful misinformation’.

Insiders told The Times that despite Knauf’s intervention nothing was done to investigate the situation or to protect staff from bullying from senior royals in the future.

One source told The Times: ‘I think the problem is, not much happened with it. It was, ‘How can we make this go away?’, rather than addressing it’.

It comes as the Charity Commission said it was reviewing Harry and Meghan’s charity amid concerns about how it was run and whether it complied with charity law before it was shut down last year following their move to the US. 

Sources told the Telegraph the charity watchdog had opened a ‘regulatory and compliance case’ into Sussex Royal, though the watchdog has not yet determined whether or not there was any wrongdoing. 

Earlier today the Queen stressed the importance of staying in touch with family and friends during ‘testing times’ in a joint message for Commonwealth Day with other senior royals – broadcast on television just hours ahead of the Sussexes’ Oprah interview. 

Last year’s Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey featured glum faces amid reports of rising tensions within the Royal family

The Prince of Wales is pictured during his engagement in the Commonwealth Day programme on Sunday

Duke and Duchess of Cambridge during their virtual engagement in the Commonwealth Day programme on Sunday

The Queen’s Commonwealth Day speech in full 

The Queen’s annual Commonwealth message, broadcast in a special programme on BBC One.

‘Over the coming week as we celebrate the friendship, spirit of unity and achievements of the Commonwealth, we have an opportunity to reflect on a time like no other.

‘Whilst experiences of the last year have been different across the Commonwealth, stirring examples of courage, commitment and selfless dedication to duty have been demonstrated in every Commonwealth nation and territory, notably by those working on the front line, who have been delivering health care and other public services in their communities.

‘We have also taken encouragement from remarkable advances in developing new vaccines and treatments.

‘The testing times experienced by so many have led to a deeper appreciation of the mutual support and spiritual sustenance we enjoy by being connected to others.

‘The need to maintain greater physical distance, or to live and work largely in isolation, has for many people across the Commonwealth been an unusual experience.

‘In our everyday lives, we have had to become more accustomed to connecting and communicating by our innovative technology, which has been new to some of us.

‘With conversations and communal gatherings, including Commonwealth meetings, conducted online, enabling people to stay in touch with friends, family, colleagues, and counterparts who they have not been able to meet in person.

‘Increasingly, we have found ourselves able to enjoy such communication as it offers an immediacy that transcends boundaries or division, helping any sense of distance to disappear.

‘We have all continued to appreciate the support, breadth of experiences and knowledge that working together brings.

‘And I hope we shall maintain this renewed sense of closeness and community.

‘Looking forward, relationships with others across the Commonwealth will remain important as we strive to deliver a common future that is sustainable and more secure.

‘So that the nations and neighbourhoods in which we live, wherever they are located become healthier and happier places for us all.’ 

The Prince of Wales and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge joined forces to appear in the special BBC One programme on Sunday to mark Commonwealth Day, as the bitter fallout from Megxit continued.

Presented by Anita Rani, A Celebration of Commonwealth Day featured music and entertainment from groups across the Commonwealth as well as messages from members of the royal family. 

The bulk of the programme was filmed inside the Abbey and featured prayers by the Dean of Westminster. 

The Queen donned the same brooch she wore on her honeymoon in a touching tribute to Prince Philip as she addressed the nation for Commonwealth Day. 

The programme opened with footage taken last week of the Queen walking down an avenue of Commonwealth flags in St George’s Hall at Windsor Castle, where Harry and Meghan’s wedding reception was held. 

Her audio message celebrated collaboration, but stood in contrast to the troubles facing the royal family.

Focusing on the global impact of the coronavirus pandemic, the monarch spoke of using technology that ‘transcends boundaries or division’ and how there has been a ‘deeper appreciation’ of the need to connect to others during the Covid-19 crisis.

She also praised the ‘selfless dedication to duty’ seen across the Commonwealth, particularly on the front line.  

The message, pre-recorded at Windsor, was accompanied by new footage of the Queen filmed last week at the castle, where she has been staying in lockdown. 

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were also seen hailing the ‘amazing work’ of key workers and frontline NHS staff throughout the coronavirus crises during a video conversation with three charity workers.

William and Kate were filmed making video calls to medical, charity and voluntary staff in South Africa, Bangladesh and Malaysia.

The Duchess of Cambridge also said it was ‘sad, almost’ how it has taken a pandemic for the public to ‘really back and support all those working on the front line’.

Kate and William chatted in a video call with Dr Zolelwa Sifumba, from South Africa, an advocate for the rights of healthcare workers on the front line.

The duchess told the medic: ‘Here in the UK there’s been masses of public recognition of the amazing work the front line are doing and it’s sad, almost, that it’s taken the pandemic for the public to really back and support all those working on the front line.’

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their children – Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis – were pictured last year joining in the weekly applause for frontline workers during the early part of the pandemic. 

William added: ‘We, Catherine and I, have spoken to a lot of healthcare workers in UK and around the world over the last year – we hear your worries and your concerns and thank you for your time chatting to us about it.’ 

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