Harry Describes Queen Hugging 'Beloved' Archie and Lilibet in First Tribute

Prince Harry paid tribute to Queen Elizabeth II's "unwavering grace and dignity" and remembered the first time she hugged his children, Archie and Lilibet, in an emotional tribute.

The Duke of Sussex quoted his grandmother's words in her final Christmas speech, in December 2021, when she remembered Prince Philip and said: "Life, of course, consists of final partings as well as first meetings."

Harry said in a statement posted on his Archewell website: "Granny, while this final parting brings us great sadness, I am forever grateful for all of our first meetings—from my earliest childhood memories with you, to meeting you for the first time as my Commander-in-Chief, to the first moment you met my darling wife and hugged your beloved great-grandchildren.

"I cherish these times shared with you, and the many other special moments in between. You are already sorely missed, not just by us, but by the world over. And as it comes to first meetings, we now honor my father in his new role as King Charles III."

Harry, Meghan and the Queen
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle walk hand in hand as they meet crowds of well-wishers at Windsor Castle, on Saturday, September 10, 2022, following the death of Queen Elizabeth II, pictured inset at Buckingham Palace in 2015. Prince Harry described the first time she hugged Archie and Lilibet in his tribute to the monarch. Chris Jackson/Getty Images

His words come after Harry and Meghan Markle joined Prince William and Kate Middleton to meet well-wishers at Windsor Castle together on Saturday.

It was the first show of unity from the two couples since the days when the Sussexes were working royals and came minutes after Prince William released his own tribute to Elizabeth.

Prince Harry's reference to honoring his father as King Charles III also represented a show of family unity after a tumultuous few years in which Harry told Oprah Winfrey, in March 2021, how his father cut him off financially after the Sussex royal exit.

In April, the prince dodged a question from NBC News' Hoda Kotb who had asked about whether he missed William and Charles.

Any left over ill-feeling, however, appears to have at the very least been put on the back burner for now.

William's tribute to the queen read: "I have had the benefit of The Queen's wisdom and reassurance into my fifth decade. My wife has had twenty years of her guidance and support. My three children have got to spend holidays with her and create memories that will last their whole lives.

"She was by my side at my happiest moments. And she was by my side during the saddest days of my life. I knew this day would come, but it will be some time before the reality of life without Grannie will truly feel real."

The apparent reference to the death of Princess Diana came after Elizabeth died at Balmoral Castle, the same location where Prince Harry and Prince William were holidaying when they learned of their mother's death in 1997.

In her final Christmas speech, the queen said of Philip: "His sense of service, intellectual curiosity and capacity to squeeze fun out of any situation—were all irrepressible. That mischievous, enquiring twinkle was as bright at the end as when I first set eyes on him.

"But life, of course, consists of final partings as well as first meetings; and as much as I and my family miss him, I know he would want us to enjoy Christmas."

Prince Harry's Tribute to Queen Elizabeth II in Full

In celebrating the life of my grandmother, Her Majesty The Queen—and in mourning her loss—we are all reminded of the guiding compass she was to so many in her commitment to service and duty. She was globally admired and respected. Her unwavering grace and dignity remained true throughout her life and now her everlasting legacy. Let us echo the words she spoke after the passing of her husband, Prince Philip, words which can bring comfort to all of us now: "Life, of course, consists of final partings as well as first meetings."

Granny, while this final parting brings us great sadness, I am forever grateful for all of our first meetings—from my earliest childhood memories with you, to meeting you for the first time as my Commander-in-Chief, to the first moment you met my darling wife and hugged your beloved great-grandchildren. I cherish these times shared with you, and the many other special moments in between. You are already sorely missed, not just by us, but by the world over. And as it comes to first meetings, we now honour my father in his new role as King Charles III.

Thank you for your commitment to service.
Thank you for your sound advice.
Thank you for your infectious smile.

We, too, smile knowing that you and grandpa are reunited now, and both together in peace.

Do you have a question about Queen Elizabeth II, King Charles III or their family that you would like our experienced royal correspondents to answer? Email royals@newsweek.com. We'd love to hear from you.

Update 9/12/22, 5:55 a.m. ET: This article was updated with additional context.