If you’ve been wondering what The Duchess of Sussex has been up to since since the Thanksgiving holiday, she has quietly been keeping busy with functions and engagements that have not been heavily publicized.
We begin with a very quick update about an engagement this afternoon, a meeting of The Royal Foundation. Below, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge at February’s Foundation Forum.
Meghan and Harry attended a Foundation board meeting this afternoon. Following the meeting they went to a holiday reception. My guess is that this was the annual holiday event for Foundation staff, but I could be mistaken. UPDATE Dec. 7: The post originally said Kate and William also attended the meeting. This is not the case.
Now to Meghan’s participation yesterday at a privately scheduled event hosted by The Association for Commonwealth Universities (ACU). University leaders, academicians, and students met to discuss how to build a better world through higher education.
The event was held at King’s College London. We learn more about the meetings from a Daily Express story:
Professor Laura Hammond, who attended the meeting, described the discussion as “excellent”.
Writing on Twitter, she said: “Thanks @The_ACU for bringing us together! We had an excellent discussion about how research can tackle the problems of slavery and human trafficking.
Meghan’s speech in Fiji about the importance of education is featured on the ACU website. The Duchess was at the University of the South Pacific when she delivered her remarks. You may recall that Meghan underscored how vital education is for women. From her remarks that day:
Everyone should be afforded the opportunity to receive the education they want, but more importantly the education they have the right to receive. And for women and girls in developing countries, this is vital.
When girls are given the right tools to succeed, they can create incredible futures, not only for themselves but also for those around them.
Another view of the Duchess at the meeting.
The theme of yesterday’s meetings syncs with a recent story by the Daily Mail’s Rebecca English:
The Duchess of Sussex is to put education for women in developing countries at the heart of her public work, when she announces her first royal patronages next year, Mail Online can reveal.
Meghan, 37, has been having secret briefings with a number of organisations, including CAMFED – the Campaign for Female Education – which works in several African countries, including Zambia, which was visited by Prince Harry last week.
It is understood that she and Harry are keen to work together on the issue in their role as roving Commonwealth youth ambassadors.
The event featured Ms. Obama “…in conversation about her memoir, Becoming, with acclaimed novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.”
Ms. Obama as she makes her way to the stage.
The Duchess and Ms. Obama are reported to have met met privately afterwards to discuss shared interests and causes, like the importance of girls’ education, as well as the experiences of pregnancy and raising children. Kensington Palace has confirmed Meghan’s attendance at the event, but she was there privately, not in an official capacity.
More about the evening from The Evening Standard:
A friend who was also at the event said Meghan “had a long private audience with Michelle.
The friend also revealed that Meghan felt she had been welcomed in London. The Standard understands that many of the charities to which she is due to be appointed royal patron in the new year will be London-orientated.
They spoke at length about the importance of supporting and empowering women across all cultures and communities.
The friend added that the duchess and Mrs Obama had formed a strong bond and were expected to stay in close contact.”
Also on Monday, Good Housekeeping UK published an interview with the author and former first lady.
In the article Mrs Obama is asked what advice she would offer Meghan.
From the interview:
“Like me, Meghan probably never dreamt that she’d have a life like this, and the pressure you feel – from yourself and from others – can sometimes feel like a lot,” she said.
“So my biggest piece of advice would be to take some time and don’t be in a hurry to do anything. I spent the first few months in the White House mainly worrying about my daughters, making sure they were off to a good start at school and making new friends before I launched into any more ambitious work. I think it’s okay – it’s good, even – to do that,” she continued.
You can read the entire Good Housekeeping piece here.
Monday night was apparently the first time Meghan and Mrs. Obama met. Prince Harry has met the Obamas on several occasions in the past.
Back in 2017, Michelle and Harry made a surprise visit with high school students in Chicago while the Prince was in town for the inaugural summit of the Obama Foundation.
Mrs. Obama was wearing a British designer for Monday’s gathering; she was in a jumpsuit from Emilia Wickstead’s Resort 2019 collection.
Tuesday, December 4: On Tuesday night, as the Queen’s Diplomatic Reception was taking place at Buckingham Palace, Meghan and Harry quietly attended an annual event at St. Luke’s Church in Chelsea, London. The gathering raises funds for one of Harry’s favorite causes, The Henry van Straubenzee Memorial Fund. The fund supports schools in Uganda; it is named for one of the Duke’s close friends who died in a car accident. Prince Harry and Prince William are both patrons of the charity.
Below, a program from Tuesday’s Christmas Carol Service.
Meghan gave a reading at the service, “Our Deepest Fear” by Marianne Williamson.
Harry addressed the congregation. More from People’s story:
As my wife said many years ago when working on menstrual health and health education, this is not about periods but potential,” he said, referencing Meghan’s visit to India with World Vision in January 2017 to highlight the importance of breaking the stigma surrounding menstruation.
He went on to say Henry van Straubenzee Memorial Fund is one of the charities trying to make a difference with “hands-on” programs on the ground. They have built 945 bathrooms in schools especially for girls, he added.
The charity was established as a “memorial to Henry” a “very special friend of mine” who tragically died in 2002 and this is the tenth carol service and, he said. The money raised tonight is a “crucial part of their fundraising plan” of the charity.
He praised the van Straubenzee family for running the “truly amazing charity.” Thanking them, he added, “Mrs van you have created the most incredible legacy for your son.”
One quick FYI: we know there are some photos of Meghan and Harry on their way to, and from, the Christmas Carol service. Both of us thought they looked somewhat intrusive and we weren’t entirely comfortable publishing them.
- Visit the Obama Foundation at Obama.org
- You can find out more information on The ACU and the event itself here.
- The Association for Commonwealth Universities (ACU) site can be found here and its Twitter account here.
- The ACU’s news release about the meetings Meghan attended may be seen here.
- The full Daily Mail story about Meghan’s charity focus may be read here.