The Duchess of Sussex cradled her growing baby bump as she joined the Duke of Sussex in Birkenhead to celebrate the life of one of the town’s most famous sons.

Meghan and Harry were paying their respects to acclaimed First World War poet Wilfred Owen by viewing a sculpture in the town’s Hamilton Square marking the 100th anniversary of his death.

The couple, who are expecting their first child in the spring, were on their first joint official engagement of the year, spending the day meeting Birkenhead residents, visiting an organisation supporting women in vulnerable situations and a centre for young people.

Meghan, wearing a striking purple dress from Aritzia’s Babaton collection and a vivid red coat by Sentaler, held on to her sizeable baby bump as she chatted to waiting dignitaries.

Royal visit to BirkenheadMeghan’s baby bump (Aaron Chown/PA)

Harry was seen with his hand tenderly placed on his wife’s back.

The couple married just eight months ago in Windsor.

Meghan and HarryHarry puts his arm around Meghan (Aaron Chown/PA)

Their visit was welcomed by Frank Field, Birkenhead’s MP, who said he had invited the couple to his constituency, with the planned day reflecting their interests, allowing them to get a real feel for the area’s people.

Mr Field said: “The two faces of Britain are here in Birkenhead, they are walking through the Alice in Wonderland door and visiting the other part of Britain – and they wanted to.”

Duchess of SussexThe Duchess of Sussex was visiting Birkenhead (Aaron Chown/PA)

The bronze artwork by sculptor Jim Whelan has been named after Owen’s poem Futility, and shows an exhausted solider sitting down with his head in his hands.

Harry and MeghanHarry and Meghan view the new sculpture (Aaron Chown/PA)

Mr Field said about the poet: “He’s the most important person for shaping our memory of war, it’s fitting the town should have a statue that sets new standards in sculpture.”

The visit comes after reports that Meghan’s Met Police protection officer has left her post.