Meghan Markle joins Queen for Commonwealth Day service

Media captionMeghan Markle arrived at Westminster Abbey with fiance Prince Harry

Meghan Markle has attended her first official event alongside the Queen at a service to mark Commonwealth Day.

Ms Markle, who will marry Prince Harry in May, joined her fiance and other senior royals at Westminster Abbey.

The annual multi-faith event celebrates the 53 Commonwealth countries, and this year featured music from former One Direction star Liam Payne.

In her message, the Queen praised the “Commonwealth connection” which makes diversity “a cause for celebration”.

Prince Charles, the Duchess of Cornwall, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prime Minister Theresa May were all at the service.

The Duke of Edinburgh, who retired from public service last year, did not attend.

The Queen arrives at Westminster AbbeyImage copyrightAFP
Meghan and Harry arrive at Westminster AbbeyImage copyrightREUTERS

The Queen, who is head of the Commonwealth, said: “Through exchanging ideas, and seeing life from other perspectives, we grow in understanding and work more collaboratively towards a common future.

“There is a very special value in the insights we gain through the Commonwealth connection; shared inheritances help us overcome difference so that diversity is a cause for celebration rather than division.”

The service comes ahead of the 24th Commonwealth Heads of the Government Meeting which will be held in London in April.

Meghan, Harry, Kate and WilliamImage copyrightAFP
Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall are greeted as they enter the abbeyImage copyrightREUTERS

Ghanaian drum collective One-Drum and spoken word artist Jaspreet Kaur were among those who performed, along with Liam Payne, who sang Waiting On The World To Change by John Mayer.

Mrs May gave a Bible reading during the service.

Among the other politicians who attended were Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and former Prime Minister John Major.

Other guests included Commonwealth secretary-general Baroness Scotland, chef Ainsley Harriott, religious representatives and 800 schoolchildren and young people.

One Direction singer Liam Payne arriving at Westminster AbbeyImage copyrightPA
Image captionEx-One Direction singer Liam Payne is among the performers to sing at the service
Theresa May leaves Downing Street in a bright red hat ahead of the service at Westminster AbbeyImage copyrightAFP
Image captionTheresa May joined senior royals and other special guests at the service at Westminster Abbey
Jeremy Corbyn, his wife Laura AlvarezImage copyrightAFP
Image captionJeremy Corbyn, his wife Laura Alvarez and Labour shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry were among those invited
Dancers before the Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey,Image copyrightPA
Image captionDancers outside Westminster Abbey before the 15:00 GMT service.

Following the service, Ms Markle, 36, joined William, Kate and Harry for a private reception.

The former Suits actress will marry Harry, 33, at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle at midday on 19 May.

They will travel through Windsor in Berkshire in a carriage before being married by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby.

More than 1,000 members of the public have been invited into the grounds of the castle to watch the arrival and departure of the bride.

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