NEW YORK — Prince HarryHis surprise guest Meghan Markle, walked the red carpet together at the Intrepid Museum’s Annual Salute to Freedom Gala on Wednesday night.

Though it was previously known that Harry would be attending and presenting at the event, Meghan’s attendance was merely suspected ― since she was also in the city ― but not officially confirmed.

The gala, which “recognizes extraordinary leadership” and honors men and women who serve their country in the military, was especially poignant because it fell the day before Veteran’s Day in the U.S. and Remembrance Day in the U.K.

Harry and Meghan both donned Remembrance Day poppy sashes. which are meant to symbolize the sacrifice of fallen soldiersYou can find us at the event.

A veteran himself, the duke has served over 10 years in British Army and completed two tours of duty in Afghanistan.

For the event, the Duke was dressed in a traditional black tux while the Duchess wore a Carolina Herrera gown.
Dia Dipasupil via Getty Images

At the event, Harry presented the inaugural Valor Awards to recipients who demonstrated “courage and perseverance in the face of great danger or personal struggle.”

On the red carpet, the royals met the recipients of the awards. HuffPost video captured the moment when Sgt. 1st Class Julian Kitching and referenced their shared alma mater, saying, “So, good to Northwestern, right?”

Kitching looked shocked, asking the royal, “How did you know that?”

As the group laughed, Meghan smiled and said, “I know something about all of you guys.”

At another point in the video, she answered a reporter on the red carpet who asked if she was proud of her husband by turning and saying, “I’m always proud of my husband.”

HuffPost spoke with Marine veteran Ishmael Alvarado on the red carpet, who said this was “a really special event for me.”

“I really appreciate everything that the Intrepid Museum does for veterans and for the community,” he said, adding that he’s been coming to the Intrepid Museum for six years and attends the family events with his kids.

“I mean, it’s just like a home away from home. It gives me that sense of pride, and the things that I miss now being a civilian, not on active duty,” he said.

Alvarado added that it was “wonderful” to see Prince Harry, a veteran himself, and Jon Bon Jovi, who was honored with the 2021 Intrepid Lifetime Achievement Award for his work with veterans affairs. Alvarado was eager to get a chance speak to the singer, as he’d danced to one song while completing his 18th-year private first class.

The Marine said he thinks it’s “good that they’re getting some recognition and understanding the needs of veterans that serve their country” and said he’s seen less stigma around mental health in the veteran community, exemplified by the fact that more people are talking about it.

“Even with the issues that I deal with, there’s times when I didn’t want to talk,” he said. “We were taught in the military to be tough and to suck it up. And now, it’s not frowned upon realizing that you have mental health issues that you can get from being in service and active duty.”

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex pictured with Valor Award recipients on the red carpet.
The Duchess and Duke of Sussex photographed with Valor Award recipient on the red carpet.
Dia Dipasupil via Getty Images

In his speech at the event, Harry kicked things off by telling audience members that last week, he “went for a ride on the Oscar Mayer Weinermobile — how’s that for living the American dream!”

He then spoke about his own military service and touched on some of the issues Alvarado mentioned, including veterans’ “invisible wounds.”

“For too long, invisible injuries were treated as just that —invisible — and were destined to be swept under the rug at the risk of shame, guilt, or just a lack of understanding,” the prince said.

“For years, we (and our families) orient our entire lives around the mission, the duty, the commitment, and yes — the hurry up and wait. And when we return, we long for the same feelings and contributions: self-purpose, focus, service to others, and being part of a team.”

“As many of us see it, service isn’t loud,” he continued. “Service is what happens in the quiet and when people aren’t looking. It’s about how we take care of each other every day,” he said. “It’s about the camaraderie we share…the laughs, the comfort, the pain, the challenge, and yes, the banter.”

“My experience in the military made me who I am today,” Harry added, “and I will always be grateful for the people I got to serve with — wherever in the world we were. However, war is a place where you see and experience something that you can’t get anywhere else. These stay with us, sometimes like a slideshow of images.”

Prince Harry salutes at a Remembrance Sunday service at Kandahar Airfield on Nov. 9, 2014, in Afghanistan.
Prince Harry salutes during a Remembrance Sunday ceremony at Kandahar Airport on November 9, 2014.
Matt Cardy via Getty Images

The Duke of Sussex and Duchess are in New York right now for another whirlwind tripJust weeks after last being in the city, they arrived again.

Meghan was in town for the first day of the DealBook Online Summit on Tuesday, where she appeared on the “Minding the Gap” panel alongside Mellody Hobson, co-CEO and president of Ariel Investments, and moderator and DealBook founder and columnist Andrew Ross Sorkin.

During the panel discussion, the duchess talked about her advocacy for paid parental leaves for all. writing a letter to CongressShe also made calls to Republican and Democratic senators. She insisted the issue isn’t political

“I don’t see this as a political issue, frankly,” Meghan said. “Look, there is certainly a precedent amongst my husband’s family and the royal family of not having any involvement in politics. But I think this is ― I mean, paid leave, from my standpoint ― is just a humanitarian issue.”

Later in the day, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex spoke on a panel regarding misinformation, which was being held at RE:WIRED’s 2021 conference. about a “coup” ahead of the U.S. Capitol attack.

“Jack and I were emailing each other prior to January 6 when I warned him his platform was allowing a coup to be staged,” the duke said during his panel. “That email was sent the day before. And then it happened and I haven’t heard from him since.”

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