By Rebecca English Royal Editor and Harriet Johnston For Mailonline
14:51 13 Mar 2023, updated 17:21 13 Mar 2023
Members of the Royal Family braved blustery conditions outside Westminster Abbey for the annual service, with the Queen Consort and the Princess of Wales both hanging on to their hats.
Camilla, 75, wore a sapphire blue outfit by Fiona Clare and a Philip Treacy beret with one of the late Queen’s sapphire and diamond brooches.
Kate, 41, looked equally elegant in a £3,000 Erdem outfit and a diamond Prince of Wales Feathers brooch – a sweet gift from the King.
The mother-of-three chose a glittering pair of two-tiered flower-shaped earrings, which were previously owned by Princess Diana.
The new Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh – Edward and Sophie – and Princess Anne were also in attendance.
Click here to resize this module
Royal mother-of-three Kate opted for an elegant ensemble for today’s appearance, donning one of her favourite designers – Erdem Moralioglu.
It’s a brand over which she is believed to have had tensions with Meghan Markle, according to reports, which stated that she was prioritised over the Duchess of Sussex by Erdem.
Both women are fans of the British designer, with the Duchess of Sussex falling in love with his clothes during her career as an actress, as reported by The Telegraph.
Despite sporting his designs to several engagements before entering royal life from 2016, once Meghan joined the Firm, the Princess of Wales is said to have been given priority over Meghan as she, too, was an existing customer.
The fact that frocks crafted by the British designer, who was born in Canada, were being handed to Kate first is said to have gone down badly with the Sussexes.
Today, the Princess wore her long brunette locks swept up into an elegant updo, revealing her late mother-in-law’s earrings, and opted for a touch of makeup for the outing.
Diana was spotted wearing the earrings on several occasions before her death in 1997 – including when she attended the Met Gala in New York City in 1996 and during a visit to Canada in 1991.
Now, they’ve been passed down to Kate, who previously wore them back in June when she attended Trooping the Colour as part of the Queen’s birthday celebrations.
She also donned Queen Alexandra’s Three Feathers Brooch on the lapel of her jacket, which features the Prince of Wales feathers emblem.
She previously wore the brooch at the first state visit of King Charles’s reign in November 2022.
The royals were greeted by members of the Ngati Ranana London Maori Club, who performed outside the abbey.
Inside, King Charles took to the Great Pulpit where he paid tribute to Queen Elizabeth’s pride in the ‘family of nations’, describing it as a force for good in areas such as climate change and biodiversity loss, as well as economic co-operation and health.
The late Queen did not deliver her message in person. Instead it was printed in the service programme.
It is understood that the new monarch – who also succeeded his mother as head of the Commonwealth – was keen to personally mark her passing, as well as his own inaugural address.
The King told the 2,000-strong congregation: ‘Commonwealth Day was an occasion of particular pride for my beloved mother, the late Queen – a treasured opportunity to celebrate our Commonwealth family, to whose service she dedicated her long and remarkable life.
‘In succeeding Her Majesty as Head of the Commonwealth, I draw great strength from her example, together with all that I have learnt from the extraordinary people I have met, throughout the Commonwealth, over so many years.
The King’s poignant speech at the Commonwealth Day Service
Commonwealth Day was an occasion of particular pride for my beloved Mother, The late Queen – a treasured opportunity to celebrate our Commonwealth family, to whose service she dedicated her long and remarkable life.
In succeeding Her Majesty as Head of the Commonwealth, I draw great strength from her example, together with all that I have learnt from the extraordinary people I have met, throughout the Commonwealth, over so many years.
The Commonwealth has been a constant in my own life, and yet its diversity continues to amaze and inspire me. Its near-boundless potential as a force for good in the world demands our highest ambition; its sheer scale challenges us to unite and be bold.
This week marks the tenth anniversary of the Charter of the Commonwealth, which gives expression to our defining values – peace and justice; tolerance, respect and solidarity; care for our environment, and for the most vulnerable among us.
These are not simply ideals. In each lies an imperative to act, and to make a practical difference in the lives of the 2.6 billion people who call the Commonwealth home.
Whether on climate change and biodiversity loss, youth opportunity and education, global health, or economic co-operation, the Commonwealth can play an indispensable role in the most pressing issues of our time. Ours is an association not just of shared values, but of common purpose and joint action.
In this we are blessed with the ingenuity and imagination of a third of the world’s population, including one and a half billion people under the age of thirty. Our shared humanity contains an immensely precious diversity of thought, culture, tradition and experience. By listening to each other, we will find so many of the solutions that we seek.
This extraordinary potential, which we hold in common, is more than equal to the challenges we face. It offers us unparalleled strength not merely to face the future, but to build it. Here, the Commonwealth has an incredible opportunity, and responsibility, to create a genuinely durable future – one that offers the kind of prosperity that is in harmony with Nature and that will also secure our unique and only planet for generations to come.
The myriad connections between our nations have sustained and enriched us for more than seven decades. Our commitment to peace, progress and opportunity will sustain us for many more.
Let ours be a Commonwealth that not only stands together, but strives together, in restless and practical pursuit of the global common good.
‘The Commonwealth has been a constant in my own life, and yet its diversity continues to amaze and inspire me. Its near-boundless potential as a force for good in the world demands our highest ambition; its sheer scale challenges us to unite and be bold.’
The Commonwealth is a global network of countries formed in the dying days of the British Empire but has proved to be so enduring that new members with no empirical ties have joined.
The member states have shared economic, environmental, social and democratic goals and boasts a combined population of 2.4billion people, almost a third of the world population, of which more than 60 per cent are under 30 years old.
The theme for this year’s Commonwealth Day is ‘forging a sustainable and peaceful common future’, something that the King himself highlighted in words that echoed his campaigning on the issue as Prince of Wales.
He said: ‘Whether on climate change and biodiversity loss, youth opportunity and education, global health, or economic co-operation, the Commonwealth can play an indispensable role in the most pressing issues of our time. Ours is an association not just of shared values, but of common purpose and joint action.’
‘Here, the Commonwealth has an incredible opportunity, and responsibility, to create a genuinely durable future – one that offers the kind of prosperity that is in harmony with Nature and that will also secure our unique and only planet for generations to come.
‘Let ours be a Commonwealth that not only stands together, but strives together, in restless and practical pursuit of the global common good.’
The King and Queen Consort were met by the Dean of Westminster, with the multi-cultural and multi-faith service featuring special performances from saxophonist Yolanda Brown, the Rwandan National Ballet and an all-female choir from Cyprus.
Today is the first time the family have come together to celebrate the Commonwealth since Harry and Meghan’s bombshell Netflix series branded the Commonwealth as ‘Empire 2.0’.
In the third episode of the series, writer and broadcaster Afua Hirsh – author of the 2018 memoir Brit(ish) – described the Queen’s beloved Commonwealth as being ‘Empire 2.0’ before then going on to describe Prince Harry as ‘anti-racist’.
Discussing institutional racism in the UK, Afua said in the documentary: ‘Britain calculated that it needed to grant these countries independence in a way that protected its commercial and capitalist interest. So it created this privileged club called the Commonwealth.
‘The Commonwealth is still described as a club of friends who share common values. I find that language really problematic.
‘I sometimes call the Commonwealth ‘Empire 2.0′ because that is what it is.’
Appearing on an episode of Palace Confidential in December, the Daily Mail’s Diary Editor said the couple were ‘lucky’ that the late monarch wasn’t able to watch their TV special, which landed on the streaming platform yesterday morning.
Discussing the first episodes of the series, Richard said: ‘It’s almost lucky that Queen Elizabeth isn’t alive to see this because the Commonwealth was so central to her and bringing people together.
‘It’s a voluntary organisation whereas [in the documentary], it’s dismissed as this colonial body used for Britain to extract money and resources from the rest of the world. She would have been horrified.’
Meanwhile, the Mail on Sunday’s Editor at Large Charlotte Griffiths pointed out how all the filming for the series finished in August 2022 – just weeks before the Queen passed away at the age of 96.
She said: ‘They were planning to do all of this thinking that The Queen would be alive to see it […] Thank God she didn’t.’
What’s more, Charlotte said Meghan’s ‘stance on the Commonwealth seems to have changed dramatically’ since her May 2018 wedding, where she wore a veil boasting different symbols to represent each nation.
In response to host Jo Elvin recalling how Meghan said she was ‘excited’ to visit the Commonwealth countries in her engagement interview, Charlotte said: ‘So she hadn’t done any research before getting married?
‘Is that what’s she saying? And now she’s done her research? That’s inconsistent with who Meghan is as a person, she’s obviously a very well-researched person.
‘I just think her whole stance on the Commonwealth has changed dramatically, maybe she fully believes what Afua is saying. I don’t know but it’s a pretty hard line [to take].’
It comes amidst a busy period for Kate and William, who last week praised ‘amazing’ communities fundraising for families left homeless after the devastating earthquakes in Turkey and Syria.
Kate, 41, opted to recycle an Alexander McQueen black pleated dress, which she first wore to meet with well-wishers in Sandringham after the Queen’s death, for the outing at Hayes Muslim Centre in London.
As a mark of respect the couple removed their shoes and Kate covered her head with a scarf, a black and white veil by Pakistani brand Élan, which is part of a set worn by the mother-of-three when she visited the country in 2019.
During today’s engagement, the couple met with representatives from the centre who, through bucket collections and other donations after prayers, have raised over £25,000 for the Turkey-Syria Earthquake Appeal.
The Prince and Princess also joined two pupils from Waldegrave School; Dila Kaya, 14, Lina Alkutubi, 15, and their teacher Natasha Rustam to help make an origami crane, a symbol of hope and healing during challenging times.
And Kate also visited the snowy Salisbury Plain Training Area to take part in a training exercise with the Irish Guards.
Dressed in military fatigues, boots, gloves and a woolly hat the Princess was almost unrecognisable as she dressed in camouflage kit for the engagement.
With her hair pulled back in a sensible plait, Kate managed to look stylish in camouflage as she got stuck into a battlefield casualty drill during her first official duty as the new Colonel of the Irish Guards.
Crouching in the snow, she held the soldier’s leg as she was shown how to wrap the wound and check the casualty’s vital signs during basic battlefield first aid training.
As she placed a tourniquet – used to stop heavy bleeding – on his calf, the Princess apologised and said: ‘It’s the first time I’ve done this’.