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LONDON—Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were booed as they arrived at St. Paul’s Cathedral in central London on Friday for a service of thanksgiving for the 70-year reign of Harry’s grandmother.
The crowd could be heard both cheering and jeering as Harry and Meghan made their way up the steps of St. Paul’s, their first joint public appearance in the UK since they quit the royal family in 2020.
Although the loudly peeling bells of St. Paul’s made it hard to distinguish exactly what proportion of the crowd noise was negative, boos and catcalls were still clearly audible on TV news coverage—over other crowd members forcefully cheering.
Although pro-Sussex social media accounts tried to emphasize the positive reactions they received, it is extremely unusual for members of the royal family to be publicly booed by such a considerable section of a crowd.
Prince William and wife Kate Middleton, by contrast, received a universal cheer, the biggest of the day, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson the only other figure to be noticeably booed on arrival.
The mixed reception for Harry and Meghan might have been expected on the basis of a recent round of polls that have claimed their popularity has plummeted, as British people have turned against the couple for their perceived disloyalty to the crown.
One recent YouGov poll surveying 1,692 Britons found Meghan’s net approval rating was -42, and Prince Harry’s was -26, while the queen scored +69.
Harry and Meghan appeared not to notice the boos and made their way into the church, where they were seated between Harry’s cousins Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie.
The couple were given the honor of processing on their own down the aisle to their seats, escorted by a red-jacketed guard—a deliberate nod by the absent queen to their status as “much loved” members of the family.
Harry seemed happy to be there, laughing and joking before the service began.
Prince William and his wife arrived separately and walked into the church in a separate procession, with Charles and Camilla. They remained grimly serious throughout.
During the service, Harry and Meghan were not seated near William and Kate, thus avoiding any interaction between the two couples. At the end of the service, as the guests departed, there was no repeat of the booing, for either Harry and Meghan or Johnson, as they left the church.
The queen did not attend the service, saying Thursday evening that she would not come, citing discomfort experienced during Thursday’s jubilee celebrations.
Prince Andrew, the queen’s disgraced middle son, also pulled out, citing coronavirus, but perhaps watching the reception Boris, Harry and Meghan got today, he may conclude he had a lucky escape.