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Prince Harry jokes he is 'living the American dream' as Meghan Markle joins him for military gala

The Duke of Sussex presented awards to service members

The Duchess of Sussex made a surprise appearance alongside her husband, Prince Harry, as the couple attended their first red carpet since stepping back as senior royals.

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Meghan joined Harry at the Intrepid Museum's 2021 Salute to Freedom gala in New York on Wednesday night, where the Duke presented the inaugural Intrepid Valor Awards to five service members, veterans and military families "living with the invisible wounds of war".

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The Duchess of Sussex made a surprise appearance alongside her husband Prince Harry

Meghan and Harry entered hand in hand

The Duke looked smart in a black tuxedo, his medals and the cross of the Knight Commander of Royal Victorian Order, while the Duchess wowed in a show-stopping fire-engine red gown by Carolina Herrera and shoes by Giuseppe Zanotti.

The mother-of-two – who welcomed daughter Lilibet Diana in June – stole the show as she arrived on board the historic aircraft carrier Intrepid in her gorgeous gown which featured a deep neckline, with a pleated skirt and thigh-high split that ran up the middle of the gown.

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She accesorised with a diamond tennis bracelet once owned by Princess Diana, as well as a poppy to honor Veteran's Day in the US and Rememberance Day in the UK.

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It was their first red carpet since stepping back as senior royals

The event, held aboard the historic aircraft carrier Intrepid, comes the day before Armistice Day in the UK, known as Veterans Day in the US.

During the ceremony, the Duke presented Intrepid Valor Awards to five service members, veterans and military families, and he spoke of how his military experience shaped the person he is today.

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Meghan wore a show-stopping fire-engine red gown by Carolina Herrera

"It’s wonderful to be back on USS Intrepid a decade after my last visit – and a lot has changed since then. Just last week, I went for a ride on the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile – how’s that for living the American dream," he joked.

"I’ve lived in the US for close to two years now. I have to say, witnessing your support for all those that put themselves in harm’s way in defence of our freedoms and liberties – it’s remarkable and hugely respected.

"It reminds me of the deep reverence us Brits have for our military as well. The armed forces communities in both our countries share a special bond, and I’m grateful to have served in support of our joint allyship for many years."

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Harry joked he is "living the American dream"

Harry was also reunited with rock star Jon Bon Jovi, who received the 2021 Intrepid Lifetime Achievement Award for his work as chairman of the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation.

The organisation focuses on breaking the cycle of poverty and homelessness through affordable housing and shelter, including permanent supportive housing for veterans.

The frontman teamed up with Harry in February 2020, as he recorded a charity single, Unbroken, for the Duke's Invictus Games Foundation.

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The Duke served in the Army for ten years

The Duke served in the Army for ten years, during which time he carried out two frontline tours of Afghanistan.

He added: "As we honour and reflect on Remembrance Day in the UK, which shares a date tomorrow with Veterans Day here in the US, my hope is for all of us to continue to support the wellbeing, and recognise the value of, our troops, veterans, and the entire military and service family. We and they are better for it.

"I served 10 years in the military, including two tours of duty in Afghanistan – one as an FAC (Forward Air Controller) on the ground and in the dust with some of you, another as an Apache helicopter pilot in the air supporting and talking with you."

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The Duke presented Intrepid Valor Awards to five service members, veterans and military families

He continued: "Nothing was more valuable than the time I got to spend with my soldiers in a shell scrape, eating an MRE (Meal, Ready-to-Eat) in the back of a tank, thanks for the swaps, flying a mission overhead knowing those below were safer, or making each other laugh when it was needed the most.

"My experience in the military made me who I am today, and I will always be grateful for the people I got to serve with – wherever in the world we were."

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