Thursday, 15 March 2018

The Queen's Official Consent, Meghan's Mother's Day with Her Majesty & Behind the Scenes Royal Work!

We're back with several interesting updates to share, from a very official wedding update to Meghan's Mother's Day with the Queen, information and news on behind-the-scenes work.

The Queen Makes It Official... With only two months to go until the Royal wedding, Her Majesty has officially given the couple her blessing. As fifth-in-line to the throne Harry must obtain permission from the monarch to marry under the Succession to the Crown Act. The Queen formally granted that permission to her "dearly beloved grandson" and his future wife today in a letter from Buckingham Palace.

More from USA Today:

'The queen gave her private consent to the marriage months ago; they wouldn't have announced their engagement in November without it. But this formal proclamation, officially signed by the monarch under "The Great Seal of the Realm," is required by British law on the royal succession, most of which is about 300 years old but was updated in 2013.
But that wasn't the surprise. What might intrigue Britons still getting to know Markle, 36, not to mention her fellow Americans, is that her actual given first name is Rachel. 
Rachel is the name listed on her legal documents, such as her American passport, so that was the name the queen had to use in her formal consent declaration. Same goes for Harry, whose given name is Henry (a traditional royal name) but has been called Harry since his birth 33 years ago.
Markle has always been called Meghan, even before she started working as an actress, so that is the name she will be known as once she marries Harry at St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle on May 19.'

The document in its entirety.

Mother's Day with the Queen... Last Sunday was Mother's Day in the UK. Harry and Meghan spent part of the day with the Queen enjoying an "intimate lunch" at Windsor. We know Meghan has spent quite a bit of time with her Majesty and no doubt the monarch is offering her advice which will serve her in good stead throughout her royal life. Given the sheer span of experience the Queen has, there's really no one better placed to offer insight. Meghan attended her first official event with the monarch on Monday, the Commonwealth service.

The meeting was discussed in a new podcast, On Heir by royal reporters Emily Andrews and Omid Scobie. I'm thoroughly enjoying it and learning quite a bit thanks to their informative information and well-placed sources. A story has been doing the rounds in recent weeks claiming Meghan is totally overwhelmed and struggling. Omid pretty much dispels the story with info from his sources confirming Meghan is "relishing the opportunity to take on the new role. She's almost like a consummate professional on engagements".  You can listen to the podcast here.

Harry and Meghan's Private Visit to Colchester Garrison... During a powerful speech at the Veteran's Mental Health Conference in London where he delivered the keynote address earlier today, Harry revealed he and Meghan privately spent time at Colchester Garrison where they heard harrowing stories from the North Essex Veterans Mental Health Network. Harry noted "some of the stories Meghan and I heard when we visited Colchester Garrison a few weeks ago shocked us to our core".

More from Victoria Murphy's piece:

'The project Harry and Meghan went to see in Essex is designed to give veterans all the help they need in one place. It is part of a partnership called TILS, the Transition, Intervention and Liaison Services, which brings various health bodies together under one roof. The intention is to create a "one stop shop" - so that service men and women get the full help available without getting lost in the system.
Harry said: "Meghan and I recently visited The North Essex Veterans Mental Health Network and we got to see the amazing work they are doing in Colchester. "They have produced a seamless journey for veterans, with centrally held case management that results in transitional, not transactional movement across care services. "This style of service has been adopted by NHS England and is now in operation across a number of health trusts across the country."

I've heard multiple times thus far, Meghan has been carrying out a "substantial" amount of under-the-radar visits across a variety of sectors in the UK in order to educate herself and decide where she can best lend her support. I was told by one royal commentator we can expect to be "enormously impressed" when the extent of it is known in due course. People's story 'How Meghan Markle Has Mastered Palace Protocol—at Record Speed' touches on that point:

'Sure, there’s a wedding to plan. But Meghan Markle is also in training for a whole new life. And she’s doing it faster than any royal bride before her.
“Meghan has been regularly making private visits to organizations as she gets to know the U.K. charity sector,” a palace source tells PEOPLE in this week’s cover story.
“She’s on a very busy schedule behind the scenes,” says the source. “She has her wedding preparation and is meeting a number of people all the time — from Harry’s charities, staff at the household and the Royal Foundation.” (The foundation oversees the charity work done by William, Harry, Kate and now Meghan.)
Supported by new palace aide Amy Pickerill, Meghan has been touring the U.K. with Harry. “She’s got good causes in her heart too,” says one of his friends. “They had done similar things in their [individual] charity work, and he’s really interested in following her lead.”

Fashion Updates... Meghan's Line engagement coat has been restocked at several retailers. Due to it's popularity it's selling out very quickly but remains available in limited sizing at FarFetch and Shoptiques.

The Amanda Wakeley Cream Sculpted Tailoring Crombie Coat Meghan wore at the Commonwealth Day service is available in several sizes at Orchard Mile and Amanda Wakeley. The Springsteen dress remains in stock in UK size 16 and in a number of sizes in black.

Meghan's DeMellier London Mini Venice bag is available in 'forest grain'.

And Meghan's BaubleBar Peacemaker Ring is now available for pre-ordering.

I expect we'll hear news of the next stop in Harry and Meghan's UK tour shortly :)

Monday, 12 March 2018

Commonwealth Day Service: Meghan Attends First Official Event with the Queen!

Meghan Markle attended her first official event with the Queen this afternoon when she and Harry joined senior members of the Royal family for the annual Commonwealth Day Service at Westminster Abbey.

Today's service was the perfect opportunity to officially introduce Meghan to the Commonwealth. It is by far the most formal event she has attended thus far. Since the engagement interview she has referenced the Commonwealth several times and is clearly interested in visiting member nations.

Indeed, it has been widely reported the couple have been enlisted to play an important role in the upcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in April. Leaders from all member countries are expected to gather in London and Windsor. They will come together to reaffirm common values, address the shared global challenges faced and agree how to work to create a better future for all Commonwealth citizens, particularly young people. An array of forums, meetings and a glittering State Banquet are on the agenda. The Telegraph reports it will conclude with a special celebration marking the Queen's 92nd birthday at the Royal Albert Hall marking her lifelong commitment to the Commonwealth.

It was a large turnout from the Royal family with the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, the Duke of York, the Princess Royal, the Countess of Wessex, the Duchess of Gloucester and Princess Alexandra present.

Harry and Meghan arrived with William and Kate.

They were treated to a performance by London-based Ghanaian musicians One-Drum.

The foursome stopped on their way in to enjoy it.

An arrival video.

They were greeted as they entered the Abbey.

The Queen has been Head of the Commonwealth throughout her 66 year reign. Her Majesty has reinforced links and seen the association of nations grow from seven to fifty-three members during her reign.

The Queen arrives.

Organised by the Royal Commonwealth Society, the Commonwealth Service is the largest annual inter-faith gathering in the United Kingdom. The Commonwealth represents a global network of 53 countries and almost 2.4 billion people, of whom 60 per cent are under 30 years old.

Each year the Commonwealth adopts a theme upon which the Service is based. This year's theme 'Towards a Common Future' emphasises how the Commonwealth can address global challenges and work to create a better future for all citizens through sub-themes of sustainability, safety, prosperity and fairness. The theme links to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM).

The Abbey was decorated with an assortment of beautiful flowers from Commonwealth nations.

Attendees were treated to musical performances from Ghanaian drum collective One-Drum, Ngati Ranana London Maori Club, Portsmouth Gospel Choir, and British musician Liam Payne.

Spoken reflections will be given by award-winning spoken word artist Jaspreet Kaur, and Dr Andrew Bastawrous, Co-Founder and CEO of Peek Vision.

Guests of honour among the 2,000 strong congregation will include the Prime Minister, the Prime Minister of Malta, the Hon Dr Joseph Muscat MP, the Commonwealth Secretary-General, Rt Hon Patricia Scotland QC, alongside High Commissioners, Ambassadors and dignitaries, senior politicians from across the UK and Commonwealth, faith leaders and over 800 school children and young people.

All members of the congregation stand for The Act of Affirmation to the Commonwealth read by the Commonwealth Secretary-General.

Chris Ship noted Harry's singing made Meghan smile :)

You can view the full Order of Service here.

Ahead of the service, the Queen shared the following message:

"We all have reason to give thanks for the numerous ways in which our lives are enriched when we learn from others. Through exchanging ideas, and seeing life from other perspectives, we grow in understanding and work more collaboratively towards a common future.
There is a very special value in the insights we gain through the Commonwealth connection; shared inheritances help us overcome difference so that diversity is a cause for celebration rather than division. We shall see this in action at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting which takes place in the United Kingdom next month, bringing together young people, business and civil society from across the Commonwealth.
These gatherings are themselves fine examples of how consensus and commitment can help to create a future that is fairer, more secure, more prosperous and sustainable. Having enjoyed the warm hospitality of so many Commonwealth countries over the years, I look forward to the pleasure of welcoming the leaders of our family of 53 nations to my homes in London and Windsor.
Sport also contributes to building peace and development. The excitement and positive potential of friendly rivalry will be on display next month as we enjoy the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast, Australia. Contributing to the success of the Games, alongside athletes and officials, will be thousands of volunteers.
Voluntary effort, by people working as individuals, in groups or through larger associations, is so often what shapes the Commonwealth and all our communities. By pledging to serve the common good in new ways, we can ensure that the Commonwealth continues to grow in scope and stature, to have an even greater impact on people's lives, today, and for future generations.”

Following the service, Meghan was given flowers by a little girl.

Prince Harry greets the children.

The Queen and other royals departing.

William, Kate, Harry and Meghan walked through Dean's Yard for a reception. Below, Meghan with The Very Reverend Dr John Hall, the 38th Dean of Westminster, after the service.

Meghan told a group of children she's "very excited" about the wedding.

Victoria Murphy posted a video.

To view the full service click here. You can view a video from the reception below.

Meghan looked every inch the future Duchess today.

Meghan wore the rich cream Amanda Wakeley Cream Sculpted Tailoring Crombie Coat (with thanks to Meghan Maven). British designer Amanda Wakeley is a firm royal favourite. The late Princess Diana and the Duchess of Cambridge have worn a number of her designs.

The $1,199 piece is described as "A pristinely cut coat will pull your entire seasonal wardrobe together, and none come more elegant than our sculpted tailoring Crombie coat." It's available in limited sizing at Amanda Wakeley and Orchard Mile.

Meghan Markle Style identified Meghan's dress as the Amanda Wakeley's Springsteen Midnight Tailored Midi dress. It's discounted from $680 to $267 at Orchard Mile and available in several sizes on the Amanda Wakeley website.

More from the product description:

'This fitted, structurally seamed dress in midnight is a bold choice for any occasion. The bodice is lined in silk, and the signature full-length back zip in gold is exposed. This is a fantastic staple dress that will see you from the boardroom to any function in an instant.'

The designer offered confirmation via her Facebook Page.

Meghan's hat is by leading British milliner Stephen Jones.

Meghan carried $675 the Mulberry Small Darley Bright Navy Cross Grain Leather clutch. It's available in an array of colours on the Mulberry website (with thanks to Perth Fashion).

Meghan wore her Manolo Blahnik BB pumps in navy.

Meghan's earrings are the Adina Reyter 14k Gold Three Diamond Amigos Curve (with thanks to Meghan's Fashion).

The Duchess of Cambridge wore Beulah London today. To read more pop over to Duchess Kate.

In light of the comments since the Royal Foundation Forum, it feels important to share the note I wrote when Harry and Meghan got engaged again. I had hoped the issue of comparing both women and using one to bash the other would subside. Sadly, that's evidently not been the case. I appreciate the time and effort which goes into writing comments, and I hate to delete them, however if this issue isn't dealt with it can only serve to derail enjoyable conversation time and time again. We're getting to a stage where events attended by both Kate and Meghan are a free for all. It has to stop. It is my sincere hope today's service will mark the beginning of a change in comments. Thank you for your understanding and support.

Kate is Kate. Meghan is Meghan. Both are entirely different women, with different strengths and weaknesses, in entirely different roles. In a society that pits women against each other, as a community we must strive to avoid the Kate v Meghan narrative. On 'both sides' of the fence, particularly cruel remarks have been left. The primary reason I started the separate blog was to avoid the negativity created by endless comparisons. This blog is not a venue for tearing Kate apart nor is the other blog a place to relentlessly bash Meghan. I think people forget William, Kate, Harry and Meghan are all on the same team - the future of the monarchy - this sort of imagined rivalry is the very last thing they want. Separately, there's been unwarranted vicious comments about Meghan in general, such comments are not welcome here. Constructive criticism along the way is of course absolutely fine but vicious attacks will not be posted. I hope to foster a warm and welcoming community here with interesting debates, I'll need your help for that. There's already a group of fanastic posters here, I have no doubt we can achieve a nice space for those following Meghan's journey. Thank you!

An important milestone for Meghan today!

Thursday, 8 March 2018

Harry and Meghan Mark International Women's Day in Birmingham!

On International Women's Day, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle visited Birmingham to learn more about two projects supporting women and young people.

It's been an eventful week for Meghan thus far; over the weekend she enjoyed a bridal shower at Soho House in Oxfordshire, complete with a spa, cinema and tennis courts. Meghan's actual 'hen party' is still to come though. On Tuesday evening, Meghan was reportedly joined by Harry, Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall at the Chapel Royal at St James's Palace where she was baptised by the Archbishop of Canterbury. The service observed the full ritual of the Church with holy water from the River Jordan from the private Royal Family font poured on Miss Markle’s head. The baptism was followed immediately by her confirmation, which means she will be able to join Harry at Holy Communion. Meghan had two supporters, the equivalent of godparents. It is thought one was close friend and stylist Jessica Mulroney who revealed she's been in London this week on social media. Richard Kay reports "it is not thought Miss Markle’s mother, Doria Ragland, or her father, Thomas Markle, travelled from the US for the service." The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were also not in attendance. It is understood the 18 guests walked to Clarence House afterwards, where Charles and Camilla hosted a dinner.

As with the majority of Harry and Meghan's pre-wedding visits, the day kicked off with a walkabout. Their tour of engagements around the UK are very much focused on meeting as many people as they can.

A video from Victoria Murphy.

Schoolchildren waiting to meet the couple.

Prince Harry met ten-year-old Sophia Richards and asked her what she wants to be when she grows up. When she replied 'an actress' he took her by the hand over to Meghan.

Sophia told People “Meghan told me that I can achieve whatever I want to achieve. And Meghan said she would like to see me on TV when I become an actress,” Richards says. “It was a dream come true. I will never forget this day.”

Before she returned to her classmates, Meghan gave her a hug. A very sweet moment!

Meghan enjoyed chatting and joked that after living in Canada the weather in London doesn't seem bad at all.

Meghan noted she was delighted to visit Birmingham on International Women's Day.

A video from Jack Royston.

A very nice video with several moments from the walkabout.

The Telegraph reports:

'Two elderly sisters, Irene Gould, 82, and her younger sibling June Dickinson, 78, were also ecstatic after meeting Harry and his fiancee. Mrs Gould said: "We were just so pleased to meet them, and how beautiful Meghan is. We thanked Harry for coming to see us and wished them all the best for their marriage."
Student Charlotte Highsmith, from Oxford, was overcome with excitement after meeting Meghan and said: "Oh my God, it was worth the wait - I've missed my lecture." The 20-year-old, who is studying criminology and policing at Birmingham City University, added: "Meghan just thanked us for waiting in the rain for her, but it wasn't a problem."

Harry also caught up with Karen Anvil, a royalist who took an outstanding photo of the 'Fab Four on Christmas Day which made the cover of newspapers and magazines all over the world. Harry told Karen he "hoped she made lots of money from it".

It seem very fitting for Meghan to make an appearance on International Women's Day. She has been passionate about supporting women throughout her life. In 2015, to mark the day, she gave an inspiring speech on gender equality. Last year, she wrote a powerful essay for Time: How Periods Affect Potential to discuss an often forgotten issue on Women's Day. It is thought women's issues will be an important focus of her royal work in the years ahead.

This year's campaign theme is #PressforProgress.

More on the campaign:

'With the World Economic Forum's 2017 Global Gender Gap Report findings telling us that gender parity is over 200 years away - there has never been a more important time to keep motivated and #PressforProgress. And with global activism for women's equality fuelled by movements like #MeToo, #TimesUp and more - there is a strong global momentum striving for gender parity. And while we know that gender parity won't happen overnight, the good news is that across the world women are making positive gains day by day. Plus, there's indeed a very strong and growing global movement of advocacy, activism and support.'

At Millenium Point, they attended an event which aims to inspire the next generation of young women to pursue careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM).

Hosted by social enterprise Stemettes, the event brought together female students from local secondary schools.

The event included interactive activities, a panel discussion, speed networking opportunities with local businesses, and information on work experience, apprenticeships, A-level choices, and university degrees in STEM.

Prince Harry and Ms. Markle joined the young women as they participated in building apps and touchpads.

They heard more about their motivations to pursue STEM subjects.

Embed from Getty Images

A video from the chat.

More on Stemettes ultimate vision for the organisation:

"All girls will be able to make informed decisions about careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM), so that eventually women can be proportionally represented in the field. So that we can have 30%+ of the UK's STEM workforce being female, as opposed to just 21%.".

Co-Founder and CEO Anne-Marie Imafidon was honoured with an MBE from Her Majesty in 2016 for her services to young women within STEM careers.

Hannah Furness reports 'Meghan Markle particularly keen to hear about Hack The Web, programme that lets girls 'edit' websites. "So you can change something untrue into something positive?" she asked. "That's so cool!"

More from the Mail Online:

'Prince Harry told pupils: 'You must have brains the size of a planet. And you can't just come in today, do this and leave. You've got to carry it on.' Watching girls placing wires from a laptop computer to a bananas, to connect it to make it work as digital bongos, he told his fiancée: 'I was going to try and help but...' before laughing and showing her the instructions. 'Oh wow,' said Meghan.
Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon said seeing the couple embrace Stem subjects would make a significant difference to how science, technology, engineering and maths are perceived.
'How many photos do you have of princesses doing technical things?' she said. 'You barely see pictures of women doing technical things, let alone princesses. You can't be what you can't see. 'To see her do it and see that she's enjoying it, it sends a message. In the same way that when she wears a dress we all buy it, here she's picked up a Makey Makey (an inventing kit), so let's try it. We could follow a different kind of fashion for once.'

The couple posed for photos with young scientists.

Next, Harry and Meghan visited Nechells Wellbeing Centre to join Birmingham's Coach Core apprentices as they took part in a training masterclass led by Create Development.

The Coach Core apprenticeship scheme was designed by The Royal Foundation of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry to train young people aged 16 - 24 with limited opportunities to become sports coaches and mentors within their communities. During the year-long apprenticeship, which now operates in ten cities across the UK, the apprentices learn technical sport skills alongside an inclusive and holistic approach to coaching, with an emphasis on employability and mentoring skills.

Prince Harry and Ms. Markle chatted to the apprentices about their experiences of the programme – which launched in Birmingham in March 2017 – before joining them in the sports hall as they deliver practice training sessions.

KP posted this image on their Twitter account.

I loved Meghan's relaxed but professional look today. The styling of the individual pieces and the tailored fit of the trousers made this my favourite ensemble since the engagement announcement.

Meghan looked chic in the £330 J Crew Two-Tone Wool-Blend Coat. The white and navy coat features a slightly loose shape which makes it easy to layer over shirts and knits, while the contrasting white edges nod to the brand's signature stripes.

It's available in very limited sizing at ZalandoNet-A-Porter. You can also view on the J Crew website.

Giulia identified Meghan's sweater as the ALLSAINTS Ridley style. The £168 'chalk white' garment is made from a wool and cashmere blend. It features a slouch funnel neckline to contrast with fitted sleeves. It's available on the ALLSAINTS website, in black and navy at John Lewis and House of Fraser.

Meghan's carrying the Altuzarra Ghianda Saddle Bag (with thanks to Perths Fashion). It's available in black at Matches Fashion discounted to $957.

In fact, she loves it so much she has two. Meghan was spotted carrying the tan version last year. It's discounted by 40% at My Theresa.

Meghan wore her Manolo Blahnik BB pumps.

Meghan's trousers are by Alexander Wang.

Meghan accessorised with a new silver bracelet by Birks. It is thought it may be have been a gift to celebrate her baptism.

Happy International Women's Day to you all!

We'll see Meghan and Harry on Monday afternoon for the Commonwealth Day service.