Veterans receive a royal welcome at 2021 Salute to Freedom Gala

A lush red carpet and blazing camera flashes paved the way to a royal welcome for five patriots Wednesday night.

On the eve of Veterans Day, Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex and Duchess Meghan Markle honored the heroism and sacrifices of United States servicemen and women who live with invisible wounds of war at the Salute to Freedom Gala on Nov. 10.

Taking place at the West Side’s Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, the honorees and their families were to be presented with a valor award for their contributions to the country attended by the likes of Jon Bon Jovi, Robert Kraft, and more celebrities. However, a special treat lay in store before the military personnel even stepped foot inside the gala.

Jon Bon Jovi and wife Dorothea Hurley. Photo by Dean Moses

As the award recipients proudly strolled down the red carpet for the big night to the resounding clicks of camera shutters, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex greeted them warmly. Shaking hands and exchanging pleasantries, the royals appeared to make fast friends and had the group laughing in no time.

“Are you excited?” the prince could be heard asking.

The Duke and Duchess arrive. Photo by Dean Moses

Prince Harry is no stranger to armed service himself. The royal spent a decade in the British armed forces, serving two tours in Afghanistan until he retired at the rank of captain. He also paid subtle respect to the military with a red poppy pinned to his suit. 

The UK’s version of Veterans Day, better known in the British Isles as National Poppy Day, or Remembrance Day, is often observed on Nov.11 with the red flower as a symbol of those lost during World War I.

Sergeant First Class Julian Kitching and wife. Photo by Dean Moses

The prince, flanked by his wife who donned a flowing red dress, was also set to award each of the honorees. When the duchess was asked if she is proud of her husband who gave up his royal duties in 2020, she smirked.

“I’m always proud of him.”

CWOS Stephen Rudinski. Photo by Dean Moses
Prince Harry and Megan Markle enter the gala. Photo by Dean Moses