Meghan Markle arrive and the Queen arrive at the Commonwealth Day service with William and Kate
Meghan Markle stunned in an off-white coat and hat as she entered the Westminister with Prince Harry for the Commonwealth Day service.
For her first official royal engagement with the Queen, Meghan wore a dark dress contrasting with light coloured coat by Amanda Wakeley and hat by Stephen Jones, while her Majesty arrived in a burgundy floral hat and coat.
Prince William and Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge joined Meghan and Harry as they shook hands with church officials.
But Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, who has effectively retired from public duties, will not be attending.
Prime Minister Theresa May is also attending the event.
In her Commonwealth Day message, which will feature in the service, the Queen has praised the “Commonwealth connection” that allows people from different nations to bond and celebrate “diversity”.
London will soon host a gathering of leaders from the “family of nations” and the monarch also paid tribute to the biennial event, an example of how consensus can “help to create a future that is fairer, more secure, more prosperous and sustainable”.
Meghan Markle will also join Prince Harry and her future royal-in-laws, Prince Charles and Camilla
In her message the Queen says: “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.
“We shall see this in action at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting which takes place in the United Kingdom next month, bringing together young people, business and civil society from across the Commonwealth.
“These gatherings are themselves fine examples of how consensus and commitment can help to create a future that is fairer, more secure, more prosperous and sustainable.”
Meghan Markle will become part the Queen’s Royal family when she marries Harry in May
The Queen has arrived after Meghan Markle for the Commonwealth Day service
Harry, 33 and Meghan Markle, 36, have already signalled their commitment to the Commonwealth and its people when they both mentioned the institution – which has the Queen as its head – during an interview to mark their engagement.
The prince said they looked forward to travelling around the Commonwealth, meeting some of the 2.4 billion people from the 53 member states.
Organised by the Royal Commonwealth Society, the Commonwealth service is the largest annual inter-faith gathering in the UK and will be broadcast live by the BBC.
After the service, William, Kate, Harry and Meghan will attend a private reception for those involved in the event.
Theresa May arrives at Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey
Former One Direction band member Liam Payne will perform during the service, and the reflection will be given by Dr Andrew Bastawrous, an eye surgeon who has turned a smartphone into an examination tool to combat avoidable blindness in developing counties.
Other royal guests include the Duke of York, Princess Royal, Countess of Wessex, the Duchess of Gloucester and Princess Alexandra.
Meghan Markle will attend the Commonwealth Day service alongside Nicola Sturgeon
Also among the 2,000 strong congregation will be the prime minister of Malta Joseph Muscat, Commonwealth Secretary-General Baroness Scotland, high commissioners, ambassadors, senior politicians from across the UK and Commonwealth, faith leaders and more than 800 schoolchildren and young people.
The Commonwealth has played an important role throughout the Queen’s reign, and she takes a special interest in the family of nations.
The theme for this year’s service is Towards a Common Future, emphasising how the Commonwealth can address global challenges and work to create a better future for all citizens through the sub-themes of sustainability, safety, prosperity and fairness.
Later that evening Charles, Camilla and William will be guests of Baroness Scotland at a reception at Marlborough House, the home of the Commonwealth Secretariat, the institution’s civil service.
Additional reporting by Rebecca Perring.