London: Prince Harry, Meghan Markle and thousands of antipodeans have attended an Anzac Day dawn service at the New Zealand and Australian war memorials in central London.
The couple, due to be married next month, arrived for the service at the Wellington Arch on Hyde Park Corner just before 5am wearing red poppies on their jackets
Ms Markle wore a long light-grey coat and oversized black hat to keep the early morning chill at bay. While it is the second time Prince Harry has attended the London dawn service, it is the first time with his American bride to be.
The couple were treated to an operatic rendition of the Australian national anthem performed by Australian west end star Amy Manford and a stirring performance of the haka by Ngati Ranana – the London Maori club.
Prince Harry, who served in the British army for a decade and rose to the rank of Captain, wore military medals as he laid wreaths at both nation's memorials. He and Ms Markle signed the book of remembrance at the Australian memorial.
The speaker of the New Zealand House of Representatives Trevor Mallard said he had grown up in the shadow of the Second World War and the fears of veterans that their sacrifices would be forgotten.
"I just know that those men all now deceased would be absolutely thrilled with the turnout and the support that we are seeing here this morning," he said.
Prince Harry was also scheduled to lay a wreath at the cenotaph on Parliament Street at Westminister and attend a service at the Abbey, along with Ms Markle and his brother the Duke of Cambridge, who on Monday welcomed his third child into the world.
Prince William and his Kate are expected to announce the name of their second son, who is fifth in line to the British throne, by the end of the week.
Australian woman Harriet Swinburn who lives in London said it was the first time she had attended the dawn service and went because of family links.
"My grandpa was from New Zealand but he came over to England to be in the British air force in the first world war," she said.
She said it was a nice that Prince Harry and Ms Markle attended "especially after the Commonwealth meeting" but said she would have gone to the service even if they had not.
23-year old Chloe Westley was also among the crowd, which numbered about several thousand people. She has attended the dawn service in London for the last five years.
"It's always heartening to see Prince Harry and other members of the royal family attending," she said.
"I think it's a testament to the beautiful kinship between our nations. We are family, and always will be," she said.
Amy Manford, who plays the other Christine in The Phantom of the Opera, said she was honoured to sing the anthem and a hymn at the service.
“I was very humbled and moved by the whole experience and it was an absolute pleasure for me to sing our Australian anthem in front of the soon to be wed couple and the thousands of attendees," she said.
The royal couple are expected to travel to Australia later this year for the Invictus games, the sporting competition for wounded veterans he created.
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