According to reports, Meghan Markle is now back in Canada with baby Archie after bidding farewell to royal life in the U.K. with a dazzling slate of appearances. (Prince Harry is expected to join them soon.)
Publicly, we last saw the Duke and Duchess of Sussex at the Commonwealth Day services at Westminster Abbey, alongside other members of the royal family. But prior to that event, Markle hosted one last gathering at Buckingham Palace for a cause close to her heart—and by all accounts, it was quite emotional.
The reception honored 22 students from Commonwealth countries studying for either masters or Ph.D's in the U.K., gathered together by one of the duchess's patronages, the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU). “That’s what so powerful,” Meghan said, per royals reporter Omid Scobie who covered the event for Harper's Bazaar. “This incredible union and the ability to gain so much knowledge and to be able to take that back home.”
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Earlier this week The Duchess of Sussex, in her role as Patron of the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU), met with the bright minds from across the Commonwealth to hear about their commitment to tackling the global challenges we all face. The Duchess spoke with Scholars studying and researching important areas surrounding; cleaning up plastic pollution in our oceans, helping to build more sustainable cities, improving health outcomes for citizens, and supporting decent work and economic growth. Paving the way as the next generation of leaders, these inspirational scholars, are spread far across the Commonwealth from Malawi to Malaysia, Ghana to Sri Lanka – all of whom will use the skills and knowledge they gain while studying in the UK to make a difference when they return to their home countries. The Duchess, who also attended university with support of a scholarship, is a strong advocate of accessible education for all. As the Royal Patron of The Association of Commonwealth Universities (@The_ACU_Official) since January 2019, The Duchess has met and engaged with students, academics, and staff from ACU member universities across the Commonwealth to learn more about the vital work they do to address global challenges. As President and Vice President of The @Queens_Commonwealth_Trust, The Duke and Duchess thank all those who are working to give access to education for all.
He writes that Markle chatted with the guests about their various areas of study. “I think it’s so important to actually engage with people,” she said. “I care about these things!” She talked about sustainable travel with one Ph.D. student from Kenya, even revealing a private detail about her life with Prince Harry.
"That’s something my husband is incredibly passionate about,” Markle said, according to Harper's Bazaar. “During our travels to Botswana and different parts of Africa, we’ve seen the link between tourism and how much money is going outside of the country instead of back to communities. There has to be a symbiotic relationship."
"When we go to Botswana, we grab a backpack and pitch a tent!” she added. “It’s not much, but that’s how we like it!”
And while the event sounds like a lovely one, it was also bittersweet according to Scobie and fellow royals reporter Victoria Murphy, who was also in attendance. Both noted that the duchess shed some tears while saying goodbye to members of the staff before departing for the Commonwealth Day services and then a flight back to Canada.
"At this point, the 1844 Room is almost empty and tears that the duchess had been bravely holding back are free to flow among familiar faces," Scobie writes. "As she embraces some of the loyal staff she will most likely not see again, I can’t help but feel sad for the dedicated team members whose tireless efforts—to promote the couple’s work, launch landmark projects, and deal with the near-daily crises brought on by tabloid lies—have come to an abrupt end."
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“After many months of reflection and internal discussions, we have chosen to make a transition this year in starting to carve out a progressive new role within this institution. We intend to step back as ‘senior’ members of the Royal Family and work to become financially independent, while continuing to fully support Her Majesty The Queen. It is with your encouragement, particularly over the last few years, that we feel prepared to make this adjustment. We now plan to balance our time between the United Kingdom and North America, continuing to honour our duty to The Queen, the Commonwealth, and our patronages. This geographic balance will enable us to raise our son with an appreciation for the royal tradition into which he was born, while also providing our family with the space to focus on the next chapter, including the launch of our new charitable entity. We look forward to sharing the full details of this exciting next step in due course, as we continue to collaborate with Her Majesty The Queen, The Prince of Wales, The Duke of Cambridge and all relevant parties. Until then, please accept our deepest thanks for your continued support.” – The Duke and Duchess of Sussex For more information, please visit sussexroyal.com (link in bio) Image © PA
Murphy echoed the same sentiment. "The magnitude of their decision was spelled out as Meghan was about to depart on Monday. Turning to some of her loyal, outgoing staff, there was an emotional realization that she didn’t know when she would see them again," she wrote for Town & Country. "Then, with a hug for almost everyone in the room, she was gone."
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry plan to continue working with their royal patronages, like the ACU, and are said to be launching their own charitable entity soon. “The terrain may be a little different but their priorities are exactly the same as before,” a source told Scobie. “Keeping the family, most importantly Archie, safe is what will make all of this worth it.”
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