There’s no doubt that Meghan Markle and Prince Harry felt emotional over their final royal duties during their last days in the U.K. But it’s especially true for 35-year-old Prince Harry, who is bidding farewell to more than just his royal family. On March 7, the prince attended a tribute to Britain’s armed forces, where he carried out his appearance as Captain General of the Royal Marines for the very last time.
This was a role and honor that Prince Harry worked at for years, only to have to relinquish it following his and Meghan’s decision to step back from their roles as senior members of the royal family. The Duke of Sussex served in the British Army for 10 years, where he served two tours of Afghanistan and ultimately rose to the rank of Captain. However, his honorary positions—earning his red military uniform—will be suspended following his royal exit.
“That’s 10 years of his life that he gave to serve his country, and he basically has to give it away now because he’s choosing to protect his family,” says a source with PEOPLE.
According to the source, Harry was moved as he donned his red uniform for the last time. “That was very emotional for him,” the source says.
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Tonight, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex attended the annual Mountbatten Festival of Music at the Royal Albert Hall — marking the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War and the 80th anniversary of the formation of Britain’s Commandos. The Duke, who is Captain General @RoyalMarines joined veterans, serving members, world-class musicians, composers and conductors of the Massed Bands of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines to help raise funds on behalf of the @RoyalMarines Charity. #MFM2020 Photo © The Duke and Duchess of Sussex / Chris Allerton
Meghan, who has experienced her own fair share of backlash throughout this transition, was there for her husband wholeheartedly during the event. According to PEOPLE’s sources on-site, Meghan “kept a tight grip on her husband’s hand throughout the event.”
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More from tonight as The Duke and Duchess of Sussex joined veterans, serving members, world-class musicians, composers and conductors of the Massed Bands of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines for the annual Mountbatten Festival of Music — an event to help raise funds on behalf of the @RoyalMarines Charity. Photo © The Duke and Duchess of Sussex / Chris Allerton
Despite the media tensions over the Queen’s decision to strip the Sussexes of their royal HRH titles and ban their use of the word “royal” moving forward, the crowd at the armed forces tribute were pleased to receive Meghan and Harry. They reportedly received a standing ovation at the ceremony at Royal Albert Hall.
“It was really an incredible moment,” PEOPLE’s source says. “It meant a lot to Harry.”