Meghan the Duchess of Sussex meets veterans and serving members of the military as she attends the official opening of the annual Field of Remembrance at Westminster Abbey. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

London - It was a day of solemn remembrance for the young royals on Thursday.

While the Duke and Duchess of Sussex paid tribute to the nation’s war dead, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were meeting those affected by the Grenfell tragedy.

Harry and Meghan were at the annual Field of Remembrance at Westminster Abbey.

They sombrely placed tiny wooden crosses, each decorated with a red poppy and their cyphers, amid a sea of tributes to those who have laid down their lives in the service of their country.

Harry, dressed in the frock coat of the Household Cavalry, and Meghan, elegant in a blue belted coat, Philip Treacy hat and Victoria Beckham boots, stood for the Last Post and a two-minute silence. 

The Field of Remembrance, which has been organised at the Abbey since 1928, allows members of the public to place a cross and personal message in memory of a loved one. It started with just two crosses but this year will have more than 70,000.

Britain’s Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex attend the 91st Field of Remembrance in London. Picture: Reuters

The Sussexes had been due to be joined by the Duchess of Cornwall, but she had to pull out due to a chest infection. Camilla is understood to have been "deeply disappointed" but was advised by doctors to rest if she wants to be well enough to attend commemorations at the Cenotaph on Sunday.

Harry and Meghan spent more than an hour meeting veterans and their families, including 96-year-old Elizabeth Herschel.

Herschel, from Gosforth, Newcastle, sat in a wheelchair proudly wearing her Second World War medals from her time with the Auxiliary Territorial Service and those of her husband Stanley, who served in the Royal Engineers. Brenda Rendell told how her late husband Richard, a "boy seaman" in 1949, later worked as an engineer on the Royal Yacht Britannia and built the slide that Prince Charles played on as a boy.

"Harry just couldn’t believe it and said that he would definitely tell his father," said Rendell, from Hatton, Derbyshire.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge paid tribute to victims of the Grenfell Tower fire as they attended the launch of the National Emergencies Trust, a charity set up to improve the response to disasters in the UK. Kate wore a blue Emilia Wickstead dress and earrings once owned by Princess Diana to the event at St Martin-in-the-Fields in Trafalgar Square.

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge wears earrings that once belonged to Princess Diana. Picture: Reuters
Britain's Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge attend the launch of the National Emergencies Trust at St Martin-in-the-Fields in London. Picture: Reuters

William acknowledged that it is "an emotional time" for victims’ relatives and survivors of the tragedy.

He and Kate met Natasha Elcock, chairman of the Grenfell United group for survivors and bereaved families. She told the couple how she had been rescued at 4.45am, making her family one of the last to survive the disaster in 2017.

Karim Mussilhy described how his uncle, who had been told to stay in his flat, had lost his life.

The duke told them: "It must be a hard emotional time, it must be very raw for you."

Also at the launch were those who survived or were affected by other tragedies such as the 7/7 and Manchester Arena terror attacks.

William said: "Their stories are as heart-breaking as they are inspiring. Their resilience and strength are deeply humbling."

Daily Mail