The Prince and Princess of Wales attended a service honoring Queen Elizabeth in Wales
On the first anniversary of the history-making monarch's death, the royal couple traveled to Wales for a service honoring Queen Elizabeth at the ancient St. Davids Cathedral. The Queen died at Balmoral Castle in Scotland at age 96 on Sept. 8, 2022, after a 70-year reign.
During the service, Princess Kate stepped forward with her husband by her side to place a bouquet of white flowers at a portrait of Queen Elizabeth. They were visibly moved, standing solemnly before the photo in a moment of silence.
The event, called "an act of reflection for accession day," included prayers said in both Welsh and English. An incredibly poignant moment came with the singing of "Thou Knowest, Lord, the Secrets of Our Hearts," evoking the sadness of Queen Elizabeth's funeral.
Prince William and Princess Kate shared photos of the moving moment on their social media pages. The post was captioned, "A moment of reflection at St Davids Cathedral honouring Her Late Majesty and all that she did for communities like this around the UK, the Commonwealth and the world."
The photo of Queen Elizabeth showed her in full royal regalia, including a white gown and tiara.
A moment of reflection at St Davids Cathedral honouring Her Late Majesty and all that she did for communities like this around the UK, the Commonwealth and the world. pic.twitter.com/44JXfwCc4S
— The Prince and Princess of Wales (@KensingtonRoyal) September 8, 2023
Kate shared a special relationship with her grandmother-in-law. Though the Princess of Wales will likely become queen consort when Prince William takes the throne one day, it's unlikely that Queen Elizabeth ever formally tutored her, as she is not one to hand down explicit "lessons," insiders say. Historian Sarah Gristwood previously told PEOPLE that the Queen may have approached her relationship with Kate the way she does with prime ministers.
"The Queen has always preferred to do rather than to say," said the author of Elizabeth: Queen and Crown. "With her audiences with her prime ministers, if there has been actual advice, it would be a discreet 'I think that went rather well' rather than actual instruction."
In an intimate sign of their close relationship, Kate regularly wears jewels that belonged to the monarch and followed her lead of wearing bright colors to be easily spotted in the crowd.
A source tells PEOPLE in this week's cover story that Prince William was "incredible close" to grandmother.
"She was such a big part of his life and a real supporter of his work, and I’m sure he and the princess miss her presence," the source said.
Despite the sadness of the anniversary, Prince William and Princess Kate, both 41, greeted well-wishers outside the church service with smiles — and even an apology.
Because misty conditions caused the couple's helicopter to land further from their destination than intended, they arrived late to the event. The Princess of Wales was heard telling the crowd, "Sorry to keep everyone waiting — we are trying to get in."
Ernest and Janet Jones traveled about 40 minutes from Carmarthen to see the couple. They told Princess Kate that they’d seen her drive pass on her wedding day and laid flowers at Windsor Castle for the Queen a year ago.
"She was quite surprised,” Ernest tells PEOPLE.
Adds Janet: “We are all thinking about the Queen today and having them here on the first anniversary is a privilege."
While Prince William and Princess Kate spent the day in Wales, King Charles and Queen Camilla were spotted driving to a service at Crathie Kirk church near Balmoral Castle in Scotland. They are expected to spend his Accession Day and the anniversary of his mother's death privately. However, the King did release a message to mark the occasion.
“In marking the first anniversary of Her late Majesty’s death and my Accession, we recall with great affection her long life, devoted service and all she meant to so many of us,” King Charles said in the statement. “I am deeply grateful, too, for the love and support that has been shown to my wife and myself during this year as we do our utmost to be of service to you all."
In marking the first anniversary of Her late Majesty’s death and my Accession, we recall with great affection her long life, devoted service and all she meant to so many of us.
I am deeply grateful, too, for the love and support that has been shown to my wife and myself during… pic.twitter.com/NfM6LDWTA0
— The Royal Family (@RoyalFamily) September 7, 2023
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Meanwhile, Prince Harry was spotted visiting his grandmother's burial site at St. George's Chapel in Windsor Castle on Friday. The Duke of Sussex, 38, traveled from his home in California to the U.K. this week to the annual awards evening for WellChild, a charity that he's been the patron of for over a decade.
Harry will next head to Germany for the Invictus Games, the Paralympics-style competition for veterans and service personnel, which kick off this weekend
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