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Prince Harry and his wife Meghan Markle arrived in the Netherlands for the Invictus Games on Friday, marking the couple’s first public appearance in Europe since officially stepping down from their royal roles.
The pair were all smiles as they welcomed the competitors to the Invictus Games. Harry is one of the founders and patron of international sporting competition.
The event came a day after the couple visited Queen Elizabeth II at Windsor Castle on their first joint visit to the UK since arriving in America.
The couple’s office says they visited the 95-year-old Queen, Harry’s grandmother, on Thursday on their way to the Netherlands.
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The week-long games are for active military and ill, injured or injured veterans.
Harry and Meghan received a rousing welcome from cheering contestants at the site of the games in a park in The Hague. The event opens on Saturday and runs until April 22.
Harry and Meghan stepped down as senior royals and moved to North America in 2020, citing the unbearable pressure of their roles and racist attitudes in the British media.
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Meghan opted for an all-white pantsuit for the event while Harry wore a dark suit.
Although this is the first time the royal couple have returned to the UK together, Harry has returned twice. Almost a year ago, he returned for the funeral of his grandfather Prince Philip in April 2021, then again in July 2021 to attend the unveiling of a statue honoring his late mother, Princess Diana.
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Harry and Meghan are due to attend a reception in The Hague on Friday for the Invictus Games. The former American actress had already joined the British prince at the Toronto Games in 2017, which marked their first appearance as a couple. They announced their engagement two months later.
This year’s games were originally scheduled for 2020. However, they were postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Harry, who served 10 years in the British Army, was a champion of causes that benefit both servicemen and women. He has been involved with the charity Walking with the Wounded and the Endeavor Fund, which honors veterans. Just days after welcoming son Archie in May 2019, he traveled to the Netherlands to kick off the official countdown to the 2020 games.
MEGHAN MARKLE JOINS PRINCE HARRY FOR INVICTUS GAMES IN THE NETHERLANDS
As for the former “Suits” star, she visited Afghanistan in December 2014 as part of a USO tour.
The visit to the Queen took place on Maundy Thursday, a day of the week before Easter which the Queen has marked for decades by distributing silver coins known as ‘holy money’ to pensioners during a service religious.
This year the Queen, who has had mobility issues in recent months and caught COVID-19 in February, did not attend. She was represented by her eldest son, Prince Charles, and his wife Camilla.
The monarch is also expected to miss the royal family’s Easter Sunday church service. She continued to perform royal duties, including virtual audiences with politicians and diplomats.
Markle became the Duchess of Sussex when she married Harry in May 2018 at Windsor Castle.
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The Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s departure from royal duties began in 2020. The family now lives in the coastal town of Montecito, California.
“After many months of reflection and internal discussions, we have chosen to make a transition this year in beginning to carve out a new and progressive role within this institution,” the couple said in a joint statement in early 2020. “We intend to step back as ‘senior’ members of the Royal Family and work to become financially independent, while continuing to fully support Her Majesty The Queen.”
Since then, reports of an alleged split have emerged after the Duke and Duchess of Sussex gave an explosive interview to Oprah Winfrey last year, which was seen by almost 50 million people worldwide.
For their current visit to the UK, it has been reported that the couple have not brought their two young children with them.
The couple’s trip comes shortly after Harry’s legal team told a court hearing in February that the royal was unwilling to bring his children to his homeland as he was unsure whether to do so. Harry has launched a legal action against the UK government’s refusal to let him personally pay for police protection during his visit to Britain.
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While senior members of the British royal family enjoy taxpayer-funded police protection, Harry lost it when he and Markle stepped down as senior royals and moved to the United States.
Harry wants to be able to pay for his protection, saying his private security team in the United States does not have adequate overseas jurisdiction or access to British intelligence information.
Fox News’ Janelle Ash, Stephanie Nolasco and Associated Press contributed to this report.