Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s latest round of public engagements have been compared to a royal tour, with red carpets and photo walkabouts as the couple attend events that are close to their heart this week.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have both delivered speeches during the last two days, with Meghan, 41, opening the One Young World summit in Manchester yesterday, and Harry, 37, speaking at the Invictus Games one year to go event in Germany today.
As the couple paid a flying visit to Dusseldorf today, they were invited to sign an official book and enjoy a boat cruise along the Rhine, with blockades put in place along the city’s roads.
The event had many of the hallmarks of a royal visit despite the couple being classed as private citizens rather than royals by German police — including meeting the crowds outside, some of whom were waving the British flag.
Critics have said that their list of engagements this week ‘could have been plucked from their calendar’ before they left the Firm.
With two events completed, their schedule still includes the WellChild Awards on Thursday, a charity for which Harry is a patron.
Today the Duke of Sussex appeared on stage at the Merkur-Spiel arena as part of an event to mark preparations for the 2023 Invictus Games.
The Paralympic-style event for servicemen and women founded by the prince will be held in the city next year, and the royal told a crowd of journalists he was ‘beyond impressed’ by what he had seen so far, after being met by hundreds of adoring fans.
As he and wife Meghan left the event, they posed for a group photo with those who had taken part in the press conference.
Earlier in the day the Duke charmed Dusseldorf by speaking German and praising their beer before Meghan posed for selfies and chatted with crowds in a royal walkabout on the latest leg of their pseudo-royal tour of the UK and Europe.
The couple, who are staying at Frogmore Cottage on the Windsor estate, were all smiles as they arrived in the city’s main square where hundreds of royal fans stood for over two hours in the stifling heat to see them promote the games exactly a year before it is due to start next September.
The ‘pseudo-royal tour’ moments from the Sussexes engagements
The Sussexes engagements this week have been dubbed a ‘pseudo-royal tour’, with key moments from their travels looking simialr to that of a royqal visit.
- Meghan Markle’s opening speech at the One Young World summit on Monday
- Road blockades on their arrival in Germany today
- A red carpet and photo walkabout on arrival in Dusseldorf
- Meghan being handed a posy from the crowd
- The signing of the ‘Golden Book’, which is signed by all visiting dignitaries to Dusseldorf
- An hour-long cruise along the Rhine on £13million MS Rhein Galaxie
- Harry’s speech at the Invictus Games one year to go event
The Telegraph’s royal editor Hannah Furness has argued that their trip has a ‘distinctly royal feel’.
‘All broadly follow the pattern set by the Queen who chooses good causes and good people to honour with a royal visit,’ she said.
Their three short visits to the One Young World summit, Invictus Games event and WellChild Awards encompass this pattern.
Earlier today Meghan and Harry met fans with the Duchess of Sussex posing for selfie-after-selfie with well-wishers. She spoke to Maureen and Karl Heinz Kenpen who had stood at the front for over two hours Maureen 83, told Meghan she was English and had moved to Germany to marry.
Meghan told the couple: ‘That is a beautiful love story.’
The Duchess was also presented with a posy by someone in the crowd, a tradition seen at royal visits.
The couple looked overwhelmed by the warmth of the reception and spent close to 15 minutes thanking the fans for coming to see them.
The adoring crowd lapped up every word the couple spoke as they worked their way along the line.
Meghan was flanked by her personal bodyguard Christopher Sanchez who at one point looked concerned as the crowd surged forward and threatened to spill over the metal barricades.
The Duchess looked overwhelmed by the reception she was getting and repeatedly thanked people for waiting to see them.
Meghan takes selfies with well-wishers outside the town hall during the Invictus Games Dusseldorf 2023 – One Year To Go event
Meghan was also handed flowers in a meet-and-greet that looked just like a royal tour event
The Duchess speaks to a young girl and also cooed over a baby in Dusseldorf today
Harry also joined in the fun – shaking hands with the crowds in the centre of Dusseldorf
Meghan, Duchess of Sussex takes selfies with well-wishers outside the town hall during the Invictus Games Dusseldorf 2023 – One Year To Go events
Meghan shakes hands as she and Harry and Prince Harry visit the city as ambassador for the Invictus games, a week-long games for active servicemen and veterans who are ill, injured or wounded
Meghan spent several minutes speaking to people, many of them young women, who had waited for hours to see her
Where will Harry and Meghan visit on their European tour?
Monday, 5 September: One Young World 2022 Manchester Summit
The Sussexes travelled to Manchester by train where Meghan, 41, gave a speech on gender equality. The summit brought together young leaders from more than 190 countries.
The area around Bridgewater Hall, which is hosting the summit, was cleared for 90 minutes ahead of the couple’s arrival
Harry and Meghan asked private security firms to provide a ‘ring of steel’ in Manchester for their appearance at the forum.
Tuesday, 6 September: Invictus Games Düsseldorf 2023
After Monday’s trip to Manchester, the Sussexes travelled to Dusseldorf on Tuesday to mark a year before Harry’s next Invictus Games.
Harry previously announced the sixth games would be held in September 2023. He and Meghan attended the 2022 Invictus Games last April in the Netherlands.
Wednesday, 9 September
The Sussexes have no official plans on Wednesday. They have not said whether they intend to visit with the Queen who is at Balmoral in Scotland.
Thursday, 8 September: WellChild Awards
The couple will return to Britain for the WellChild Awards ceremony in London on Thursday, where Harry will deliver a speech.
The WellChild Awards looks to ‘celebrate the inspirational qualities of the UK’s seriously ill children and young people, along with those who go that extra mile to make a difference to their lives.’
As part of their visit to the German city, police closed junctions and set up miles of roadblocks from Dusseldorf airport to the city centre so that the Sussexes and their entourage, including a personal doctor, could avoid traffic jams on the three mile journey.
As the visit was not a ‘royal visit’, there were no police motorcycle outriders and accompanying police cars would not turn on their flashing blue lights. But a police source said a vehicle carrying a doctor and medical equipment will have been part of the convoy for the three-mile drive into the city.
German police said they were only involved primarily on crowd control in the market square where Harry and Meghan started their visit at around 12.30pm.
More than 500 people stood behind metal barriers outside the entrance to the town hall. Some had taken their place at the front three hours before the planned arrival of the couple.
City officials also rolled out the red carpet — and even hoovered it — but insisted that the visit of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex was private and they were protected by their own security team with the couple footing the bill.
Last minute preparations also included red and white flowers – the official colours of the city – being placed around the entrance to the town hall.
They were met in the red carpet by Düsseldorf mayor Stephan Keller and a senior member of the German military.
The trip has been criticised as resembling a ‘royal tour’.
One insider said this pattern is ‘ironic given they profess to hate everything about the institution and royal life’, the Scottish Express reported.
The couple travelled in a Porsche 4×4 while aides from Archwell were in an Audi. The team of bodyguards travelled in two black people carriers.
The pair were meeting officials and potential competitors in the city on Tuesday. They were taken by boat along the Rhine River from the reception to the Merkur Spiel-Arena for a press conference where Harry delivered a speech.
At the town hall, the couple signed what is known as the ‘Golden Book’.
The oversized leather-bound volume is signed by all visiting dignitaries to Dusseldorf, the capital of the Rhine-Westphalia region.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, at the Invictus Games one year to go event in Dusseldorf
Meghan Markle at the Invictus Games event in Dusseldorf, Germany, this afternoon
The couple waved to the crowd, who were calling their names after hours waiting for them
Harry and Meghan got the red carpet treatment despite being classed as private citizens rather than royals by German police
The Sussexes are in Europe to officially launch the 2023 Invictus Games but are staying in the UK
Alfred Marstaller, Brigadier general, Lord Mayor of the State Capital, Dr. Stephan Keller, Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, Parliamentary secretary with the Ministry of Defence, Siemtje Muller and Markus Laubenthal, General lieutenant, pose at the town hall
City officials remove plastic film from the red carpet ahead of the Sussexes’ arrival
A worker vacuums the steps before the Duke and Duchess of Sussex arrive
The page assigned to the couple was already been prepared with their names in red Roman cursive writing.
Harry was billed as’ Prinz Harry Herzog von Sussex’ while his wife is ‘Meghan, Herzogin von Sussex’ – translated as Duke and Duchess of Sussex.
Although there is a balcony in the book signing room overlooking the market square, the couple did not step out to wave to crowds gathered below.
‘That would not be appropriate,’ said a city official.
A convoy of cars then took the couple to a jetty about two miles away where they boarded the MS Rhein Galaxie for the hour-long cruise along the Rhine.
Their afternoon jaunt on the £13million boat took them to Duisburg and ended at the Merkur-Spiel sports stadium where the sports event for disabled military veterans was held.
The Golden Book in the Town Hall in Dusseldorf was ready to be signed by Harry and Meghan at the reception to launch the Invictus Games 2023
The Von Sussexes: The Golden Book at Dusseldorf town hall was ready to be signed by Harry and Meghan on Tuesday
The couple smiled and waved as they boarded the boat for a river cruise
A source with the city of Dusseldorf told Mail Online: ‘Of course this is a private visit, but we do not want anything to go wrong or there to be any incident. We are showcasing the city.
‘They will have their own security teams, but the police area being consulted and will be involved. We are hosts for the Invictus Games and we want everything to run very smoothly.
‘There have been lots of consultations and plans have changed, but we are confident it will be a trouble-free visit.’
Yesterday the couple were in Manchester where Meghan opened the One Young World summit.
She has been a counsellor with the organisation, which champions change made by young people across the globe, since 2014.
However last night she was accused of making a speech that just focused on ‘me, me, me’ as she made at least 54 references to herself during a seven-minute talk to young people billed as being about gender equality.
It was the Duchess’ first address in Britain since Megxit as she opened the event at Bridgewater Hall in Manchester watched by her smiling husband Harry.
Meghan Markle (pictured on Monday) gave a seven-minute speech focused on ‘me, me, me’, royal experts said, during her first address in Britain since Megxit more than two years ago, as she gushed about Prince Harry and the ‘life-changing’ impact of becoming a mother to Archie
Meghan told the event it was ‘very nice to be back in the UK’ before touting her own work with the organisation. Meghan seemingly tried to relate with the youth attendees, telling them: ‘In many ways I was probably like a lot like you, I was young, ambitious.’ The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are pictured together at Monday’s event
Meghan and Harry had been given a warm welcome at the event. But minutes earlier, as the couple climbed out of their car, many in a 100- strong crowd booed from behind a barrier just yards away, with onlookers saying it was so loud ‘there was no doubt they would have heard’.
One protester was carrying a sign that read: ‘FO Harry and Me-Gain Fake Royals.’
Despite having been selected to discuss gender equality, Meghan only made one brief anecdote about a woman other than herself. The Duchess of Sussex said that the first year she joined One Young World in Dublin, she worked with a young woman from Eritrea.
‘She had escaped her home country, fleeing with bullets fired above her head. I still remember it so well,’ she said. ‘I remember my shock, and I also remember her courage, my recognition of how much continues to go on each day with so many turning a blind eye. And yet despite all odds, she like so many still persevered.’
Royal experts criticised Meghan after the speech for delivering an address that ‘lacked content’ and was riddled with confusing and insincere commentary.
Meghan also told the audience, made up of young delegates from more than 190 countries, that they are ‘the future, but also the present, driving the positive and necessary change needed across the globe.’ She and Prince Harry are pictured at Manchester Train Station as they make their return to London on Monday night
One protester was carrying a sign that read: ‘FO Harry and Me-Gain Fake Royals’
‘I can’t visualise or comprehend how the 2,000 young people understood a word of what she was talking about,’ Ingrid Seward, editor-in-chief of Majesty Magazine, told The Sun.
‘It made no sense. It was all about her and related everything to herself.
‘I don’t think she knew what she was talking about. It was just ‘me, me, me’ and praising herself.
On Thursday, the couple will attend the WellChild Awards, which celebrate the bravery of young people from across the UK who have coped with a serious illness or disability.
Prince Harry is a patron of the charity since 2007, with Meghan joining him at the 2018 and 2019 awards.
The event includes a reception, followed by a dinner and an awards ceremony.