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Harry and Meghan’s 2018: The wedding, a baby bump and a hectic overseas tour

The duke and duchess have had a rollercoaster year as newbie Meghan married into the royal family.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex at Government House in Wellington, New Zealand (Kirsty Wigglesworth/PA)
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex at Government House in Wellington, New Zealand (Kirsty Wigglesworth/PA)

2018 saw Meghan Markle marry into the royal family.

Here’s a look at the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s year:

It began with a continuation of their tour of the UK, as Harry introduced his American bride-to-be to the country that was now her home.

Engagements in Brixton in south London, Cardiff, Birmingham and Belfast were just some of the day trips Harry and Meghan carried out.

The ex-Suits star proved herself as affectionate as her future husband, as she charmed the public and hugged youngsters.

Unlike most previous royal brides-to-be, Meghan, who spoke of her desire to “hit the ground running”,  immersed herself in royal duty before even walking up the aisle.

She carried out her first joint engagement with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Harry when she took to the stage at a Royal Foundation forum in February.

The former actress showed her support for the #MeToo and Time’s Up Campaigns during an on-stage Q&A, and the quartet were dubbed the “Fab Four”.

Former Suits star Meghan also took part in her first official event with the Queen when she joined the monarch and senior royals at the Commonwealth Day Service in Westminster Abbey.

Harry was given a new role by the Queen, who appointed him Commonwealth Youth Ambassador.

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Meghan and Harry meet youngsters from across the Commonwealth as they attend the Your Commonwealth Youth Challenge reception at Marlborough House in London (Yui Mok/PA)

The move has committed Harry and Meghan to a lifetime of work with the Commonwealth, and the pair took part in high profile Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting events in London ahead of their wedding.

The couple’s big day came on May 19 when they wed in a glittering ceremony in the 15th century St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle.

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Harry and Meghan during their wedding service (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

An emotional Harry was captivated by his bride as they met at the altar, telling her: “You look amazing. I missed you.”

Meghan wowed the crowds and the star-studded congregation in her simple, stunning, pure white wedding gown by Clare Waight Keller at Givenchy.

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George Clooney greets Serena Williams in St George’s Chapel, with actor Idris Elba (Owen Humphreys/PA)

This royal wedding was one with a difference, combining British traditions with diversity and modernity as Harry and Meghan incorporated the bride’s cultural heritage.

Sounds of a gospel choir filled the stunning venue, with US preacher Bishop Michael Curry delivering an impassioned, rousing address on the power of love.

Meghan became the first mixed race person in modern history to marry a senior British royal.

Crowds flocked to Windsor see the newlyweds as the new Duke and Duchess of Sussex kissed on the West Steps of the chapel, and then took a carriage ride through the town.

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The duke and duchess ride in an Ascot Landau after their wedding ceremony (Odd Anderson/PA)

Prince George and Princess Charlotte were among the pageboys and bridesmaids.

However, there was drama in the run up to the celebrations when Meghan’s father, Thomas Markle, pulled out of walking her through the Quire to the altar due to illness and after being caught staging paparazzi photographs.

The Prince of Wales stepped in to escort his new daughter-in-law.

Harry has still not met his father-in-law face to face, and Meghan is said to have not contacted him since the wedding.

Meghan’s half-sister Samantha Markle, who like the rest of the Markle relatives was not invited to the nuptials, was vitriolic in her criticism of the duchess, describing her as cold and inhumane in her treatment of their father.

The duchess, meanwhile, threw herself into royal life.

Just days after the ceremony, Harry and Meghan were back at work, joining Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall at a garden party celebrating the prince’s charity work.

It was the newlyweds’ first official engagement as a married couple.

It was a year of firsts for newbie royal Meghan.

She made her debut on the Buckingham Palace balcony at the annual Trooping the Colour ceremony in June.

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The Queen, the Prince of Wales, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge with Princess Charlotte, Savannah Phillips and Prince George, on the balcony of Buckingham Palace (Yui Mok/PA)

And then the duchess went on her first joint engagement with the Queen on a day trip to Cheshire, with body language experts saying the pair got on famously.

Events during the year included Prince Louis’ christening at the Chapel Royal in July, the RAF centenary celebrations, the WellChild awards  – and Harry and Meghan’s first official overseas trip as a married couple to Dublin.

Personal celebrations included Meghan’s 37th birthday in August which was celebrated at the wedding of Harry’s society friends Charlie van Straubenzee and Daisy Jenks, Harry’s 34th birthday in September, and a holiday with George and Amal Clooney in Italy.

Meghan launched her first solo project – the Grenfell community cookbook, and brought her mother Doria to its launch.

The duchess took the opportunity to deliver her first speech as a royal, speaking for more than three minutes without notes.

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The Duchess of Sussex giving her first official speech as an HRH (Ben Stansall/PA)

Harry and Meghan also went on an away day to Sussex, the county that inspired their royal titles – travelling to Chichester, Bognor Regis, Peacehaven and Brighton.

Back in St George’s Chapel in October, the Sussexes were guests at Princess Eugenie’s wedding, where they shared the news with their family that they were expecting a baby.

The pregnancy was announced publicly just three days later when Harry and Meghan were starting their official tour to Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and Tonga.

A delighted Harry called the baby “our little bump” and Meghan repeatedly cradled her stomach as the pair continued with their marathon 16-day trip, which featured more than 70 engagements.

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The duchess cradles her baby bump as she and Harry walk along Kingfisher Bay Jetty on Fraser Island, Queensland (Kirsty Wigglesworth/PA)

Highlights included a trip to Bondi beach in Australia, the 2018 Invictus Games, and a Maori welcome in Rotorua, New Zealand.

Back in the UK, the duchess joined the royals for the first time at the Cenotaph on Remembrance Sunday, which this year fell on the centenary of Armistice Day.

And the family came together for Charles’ 70th birthday for official photographs, and then a party hosted by the Queen.

The Royal Variety Performance is a staple of the royal calendar and Meghan had her first introduction to the annual event, joining Harry in meeting Take That at the charity show.

As it emerged that the couple have chosen Frogmore Cottage on the Windsor Estate as the home where they will raise their family, rumours abounded as to the reason for the move away from Kensington Palace amid speculation over Meghan and Kate’s relationship.

There were also reports of tension between William and Harry, with Harry reportedly accusing his older brother of trying to wreck his relationship with Meghan when he initially voiced concerns.

Mr Markle gave another interview, outlining his distress at his rift with Meghan.

“I have been frozen out and I can’t stay silent,” he told the Mail on Sunday.

“I have made dozens of attempts to reach my daughter via text and letters, but she and Harry have put up a wall of silence.”

The duchess also made a surprise appearance at the British Fashion Awards in London, using her speech to highlight female empowerment.

In a one-shoulder Givenchy gown that showed off her growing baby bump, Meghan announced Givenchy’s artistic director Clare Waight Keller as the Womenswear Designer of the Year.

The duchess told of how people have a “deep connection” to what they wear, which is sometimes very personal and emotional, but that it was rooted in “supporting and empowering each other, especially as women”.

In a final public appearance of the year, Meghan and Kate appeared the best of friends when they led the royal family to church on Christmas Day with their husbands.

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The Duchess of Cambridge and the Duchess of Sussex arriving at the Christmas Day morning church service at St Mary Magdalene Church in Sandringham, Norfolk.

As they walked with the rest of the family the short distance from the Queen’s Sandringham home to St Mary Magdalene Church they laughed together and seemed engrossed in conversation.

PA

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