Prince Harry recalls ‘yawning silence’ that followed Meghan Markle’s joke after first Trooping the Colour

Prince Harry has reflected on the awkward silence that followed a joke made by Meghan Markle after she attended her first Trooping the Colour, the late Queen’s official birthday celebration.

The Duke of Sussex recalled the incident in his memoir Spare, in which he remembered how he and the Duchess of Sussex attended the official June celebration of Queen Elizabeth II’s birthday for the first time together in 2018, shortly after their royal wedding.

As noted by Harry, the couple had just returned to the UK from their 10-day honeymoon in the Mediterranean, and would be making one of their “first public appearances as newlyweds” at the ceremony.

For the occasion, the duchess had worn a baby pink, off-the-shoulder outfit by Carolina Herrera, which she’d paired with a matching pink fascinator, while Prince Harry had worn his full military uniform.

During the royal event, the couple rode together in a carriage, before gathering with the rest of the royal family on the balcony of Buckingham Palace to greet the crowd of well-wishers.

In photos from the occasion, the royal family appeared in high spirits, with Meghan seen smiling as she stood between her husband and her sister-in-law, Kate Middleton, the Princess of Wales.

However, according to Prince Harry, who confirmed that “everyone present was in a good mood, upbeat” during the Trooping of the Colour, the festive mood allegedly changed after Meghan made a joke about the event to Kate, after she’d asked Meghan what she’d thought of the celebration.

“But then: Kate asked Meg what she thought of her first Trooping the Colour. And Meg joked: Colourful,” Harry wrote. “And a yawning silence threatened to swallow us all whole.”

Duke and Duchess of Sussex attended first Trooping the Colour together in 2018 (AFP via Getty Images)
Duke and Duchess of Sussex attended first Trooping the Colour together in 2018 (AFP via Getty Images)
Meghan Markle is seen talking to the Princess of Wales during balcony appearance (AFP via Getty Images)
Meghan Markle is seen talking to the Princess of Wales during balcony appearance (AFP via Getty Images)

In the excerpt, Harry noted that the awkward exchange was followed days later by Meghan’s first royal trip with the Queen. According to Harry, despite being nervous, the duchess and the monarch “got on famously” and “bonded over their love of dogs”.

The pair also discussed motherhood, Harry revealed, with the duke recalling how Meghan had told him about her conversation with the Queen, and how she’d shared her desire to be a mother. In response, the monarch had then shared a tip for inducing labour.

While reflecting on the successful outing, Harry wrote that both he and Meghan had thought “things are going to turn around now”.

However, he said the press coverage of the trip did not reflect the reality, as he recalled how the papers had “pronounced the trip an unmitigated disaster”.

“They portrayed Meg as pushy, uppity, ignorant of royal protocol, because she’d made the unthinkable mistake of getting into a car before Granny,” Harry wrote, adding: “In truth, she’d done exactly what Granny had told her to do. Granny said get in; she got in.”

Despite the slight awkwardness that followed the duchess’ joke in 2018, the couple also attended the Trooping the Colour in 2019, and most recently, in 2022, when they reunited with the royal family during their first trip back to England since they stepped down as senior royals.

Spare has broken records since its release on 10 January, with the memoir becoming the fastest-selling non-fiction book ever.