Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Meghan Leaving Suits, Rachel Zane Gets Married & Latest Photos of Meghan!

For months we've been hearing endless rumours and reports on Meghan's plans for the future. It was widely expected she would leave Suits when filming for season seven commenced, and over the past twenty-four hours sources have confirmed to several reputable news outlets, not only is Meghan departing but Patrick J Adams, who plays her love interest Mike Ross, also plans to move on to new projects. Meghan was photographed on set over the weekend following a busy week of filming.


Earlier today, Patrick J Adams posted a cast shot on Instagram. Season seven filming wraps up on Friday.



'Sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that the NBCUniversal-owned cable network is close to a deal to renew its "Blue Skies" procedural for an eighth season as stars Patrick J. Adams and Meghan Markle plot their exit from the Aaron Korsh-created series.
Adams has been with the series for all seven seasons and recently started directing episodes of the legal procedural, the last remaining drama from USA Network's "Blue Skies" brand (before the cabler went darker after the success of Mr. Robot). Adams earned a SAG Award nomination for his role as likeable bad-boy lawyer Mike Ross. Sources note he is looking to pursue other creative avenues beyond Suits. The actor has been in contract talks for months but now appears poised to exit.
Markle co-stars as Rachel Zane, a paralegal-turned-lawyer at the show's law firm who is engaged to marry Mike. Speculation about Adams and Markle's exits resurfaced over the weekend as the duo were spotted on the show's Toronto set filming a wedding scene. Speculation that Markle, an avid philanthropist who also has been with Suits since its start, could exit the series began almost immediately after she started dating Prince Harry in 2016. Her departure opens the door for a potential royal wedding, which has been wildly speculated since the actress met Queen Elizabeth.'

The news was certainly expected and paves the way for Meghan to move to London this month. I have no doubt it will be difficult for her to say goodbye to Rachel Zane; not only did the role give Meghan her big break, but she's very independent and giving up her acting career is obviously a sacrifice she is happy to make because (it almost seems a done deal) she and Harry have planned their future. She has previously said, long before she met Harry, she would love to dedicate herself full time to philanthropy. A royal position is the perfect platform from which to explore that avenue.

How will Rachel Zane's story end? I don't want to give away too much (if you are a Suits fan and haven't already heard and don't wish to, avert your eyes :)). Meghan donned a wedding dress for filming in Toronto last week as her character finally got her fairy-tale ending and married longtime love Mike Ross. I'm sure there were jokes from fellow cast and crew members about Meghan's own possible nuptials. It was possibly a rather surreal day for her too as the next time she puts on a wedding dress it will be for her own real-life fairy tale.


According to Hello!, Meghan wore the Anne Barge wedding gown from season five (it's the character's second attempt to reach the altar). Founded in 1999, Anne Barge is renowned for timeless style with a contemporary twist. Enchanted by weddings from a young age, Anne Barge was destined for design. As a child, Anne spent many weekends sitting beside her mother, a concert pianist, through wedding ceremonies and special occasions alike. Inspired by real brides as they wed, Anne sketched gowns for friends and family until finally pursuing design school following her graduation from the University of Georgia. A favourite among celebrity brides and red carpet icons alike, Anne Barge has created custom designs for Laura Benanti, Johanna Braddy, Kristen Cavallari, Yvonne Orji, Violett Beane, Amirah Vann, Leah Pipes, Taraji P Henson, Amber Riley, Lauren Alaina and more.


The Versailles Plunge Embroidered Tulle Gown is described: "Fashioned from Italian fabric, this plunging V-neck gown is complemented by a sheer beaded back. Intricate tone-on-tone beading scatters out across a full tulle skirt." It's a beautiful gown; epitomising elegance and sophistication.


There's a great video of Meghan with close friend Jessica Mulroney from the day they were looking through potential wedding dresses.


The crew reportedly filmed the scenes during an overnight shoot at Toronto's King Edward Hotel.


Your faithful scribe got a tad distracted with talk of weddings and fairy-tale endings...back to the candid snaps of Meghan from the weekend.


Meghan wrapped up in the Soia & Kyo Saundra Parka (another brilliant ID from Meghan's Mirror). The piece is described as "a cozy Soia & Kyo puffer coat with a coyote fur ruff at the hood. Zip placket and four front pockets. Ribbed cuffs. Lined. Down fill". The fur trim has been removed from Meghan's parka.


Meghan wore her trusty Kamik Sienna Boots. The cozy boots remain available at Nordstrom.



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Also tonight, with thanks to those of you who messaged, the Harry and Meghan: Truly, Madly, Deeply documentary is now available on YouTube.


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Finally, the always informative Emily Andrews revealed Harry and Meghan have recently been away. No doubt we'll be seeing an exciting exclusive on that soon!

Sunday, 5 November 2017

Meet Meghan: Meghan's Advocacy Work for Women

Another weekend, another slew of stories about Harry and Meghan. The most interesting of these, published in the Mail on Sunday, reports Meghan is set to become a global charity campaigner "when she moves to London this month". There's talk she plans to rent a London office and focus on women in need. Of course, at this point we cannot gauge the validity of the story, but it is accurate to say women's issues have already been at the forefront of Meghan's advocacy work for some time. For this evening's 'Meet Meghan' we're delving deeper into the work she's done in the area.


When researching this post and considering Meghan's work in support of women, her role as UN Women's advocate for political participation and leadership springs to mind instantly, not least thanks to her stirring and memorable speech at the 2015 UN International Women's Conference. Meghan received a standing ovation from the audience, which included Ban Ki-Moon, for her powerful words on gender equality.


This one sticks in my mind in particular for several reasons: when the media broke the news Harry and Meghan were a couple, I wasn't very familiar with the series Suits, and as you'll recall, there was a bombardment of salacious stories and a vulgar use of imagery taken from the series of Meghan in her underwear. I did a little bit of surfing and was blown away by her speech. What made it so special? Firstly, it was abundantly clear how proud she was of the role opening with: "I am proud to be a woman and a feminist." Recalling the story of how her feminism began at eleven, it was amazing how informed, articulate and passionate she was about the subject. "The way we change that, in my opinion, is to mobilise girls and women to see their value as leaders, and to support them in these efforts." Dressed in a simple black dress with her hair pulled back, it was all about what she had to say.


Meghan's speech:

"I am proud to be a woman and a feminist, and this evening I am extremely proud to stand before you on this significant day, which serves as a reminder to all of us of how far we’ve come, but also amid celebration a reminder of the road ahead. I want to tell you a story that’ll sort of give context to my being here and my work with UN Women. When I was just eleven years old, I unknowingly and somehow accidentally became a female advocate.
It was around the same time as the Beijing conference, so a little over twenty years ago, where in my hometown of Los Angeles a pivotal moment reshaped my notion of what is possible. See I had been in school watching a TV show in elementary school and, um, this commercial came on with the tag line for this dish washing liquid and the tag line said, ‘Women all over America are fighting greasy pots and pans’. Two boys from my class said, ‘Yeah, that’s where women belong, in the kitchen’. I remember feeling shocked and angry and also just feeling so hurt; it just wasn’t right, and something needed to be done. So, I went home and told my dad what had happened, and he encouraged me to write letters, so I did, to the most powerful people I could think of. Now my eleven year old self worked out that if I really wanted someone to hear me, well then I should write a letter to the First Lady. So off I went, scribbling away to our First Lady at the time, Hillary Clinton. I also put pen to paper and I wrote a letter to my news source at the time, Linda Ellerbee, who hosted a kids news program, and then to powerhouse attorney Gloria Allred, because even at eleven I wanted to cover all my bases.
Finally I wrote to the soap manufacturer. And a few weeks went by, and to my surprise I received letters of encouragement from Hillary Clinton, from Linda Ellerbee, and from Gloria Allred. It was amazing. The kids news show, they sent a camera crew to my home to cover the story, and it was roughly a month later when the soap manufacturer, Proctor & Gamble, changed the commercial for their ivory clear dish washing liquid. They changed it from ‘Women All Over America are Fghting Greasy Pots and Pans’ to ‘People all over America’. It was at that moment that I realized the magnitude of my actions. At the age of eleven I had created my small level of impact by standing up for equality.
Now, equality means that President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, whose country I recently visited as part of my learning mission with UN Women, it means that he is equal to the little girl in the Gihembe refugee camp who is dreaming about being a president one day. Equality means that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is equal to the young intern at the UN who is dreaming about shaking his hand. It means that a wife, it means that a wife is equal to her husband; a sister to her brother. Not better, not worse – they are equal.
UN Women, as you guys know, has defined the year 2030 as the expiration date for gender inequality. And here’s what’s staggering, the studies show that at the current rate, the elimination of gender inequality won’t be possible until 2095. That’s another eighty years from now. And when it comes to women’s political participation and leadership the percentage of female parliamentarians globally has only increased by 11% since 1995. 11 percent in 20 years? Come on. This has to change. Women make up more than half of the world’s population and potential, so it is neither just nor practical for their voices, for our voices, to go unheard at the highest levels of decision-making.
The way we change that, in my opinion, is to mobilize girls and women to see their value as leaders, and to support them in these efforts. To have leaders such as President Kagame of Rwanda continue to be a role model of a country which has a parliamentary system comprised of 64% female leaders. I mean, it’s the highest of any government in the world and it’s unbelievable. We need more men like that, just as we need more men like my father who championed my eleven year old self to stand up for what is right. In doing this, we remind girls that their small voices are, in fact, not small at all, and that they can effect change. In doing this, we remind women that their involvement matters. That they need to become active in their communities, in their local governments, as well as in the highest parliamentary positions. It is just imperative: Women need a seat at the table, they need an invitation to be seated there, and in some cases, where this is not available, well then you know what, they need to create their own table. We need a global understanding that we cannot implement change effectively without women’s political participation.
It is said that girls with dreams become women with vision. May we empower each other to carry out such vision — because it isn’t enough to simply talk about equality. One must believe it. And it isn’t enough to simply believe in it. One must work at it. Let us work at it. Together. Starting now."

Meghan starred in this PSA in her role for the UN: "Today less than one quarter of the world’s leaders are women. UN Women’s advocate Meghan Markle launches a new PSA on women's political participation and leadership to help change that reality. Because when women lead, the world changes."


How does one combine living a Hollywood lifestyle full of glamour and champagne with making philanthropy a priority? In a 2016 piece for Elle, Meghan shed light on how she does it juxtaposing a trip to Rwanda for the UN with attending the BAFTAs: "My Mom Raised Me To Be A Global Citizen, With Eyes Open To Harsh Realities":

'I'm sitting in my trailer with my mom in Toronto, Canada, where we're shooting the sixth season of US TV drama, Suits. This in itself is a novelty: my mom is sitting in my trailer, on a show in which I am a lead character, and that has a viewership of more than 1.7 million. It's surreal. We never would have dreamed that this would be my reality. Our reality.
Just a year ago, I was in a van heading back from Gihembe refugee camp in Rwanda. I was there as an advocate for UN Women; I had a week of meetings with female parliamentarians in the city's capital, Kigali, celebrating the fact that 64% of the Rwandan government are women – the first in the world 
where women hold a majority. I was also speaking with grassroots-level female leadership at the refugee camp just outside the area. Driving back on the dusty roads that day, I received an email from my managers asking whether I'd attend the Baftas. 
I had never been and had always romanticised it. A high-end jewellery company was going to fly me in, dress me in the fanciest of gowns, and I would travel straight from Kigali to Heathrow, London, to the make-up chair and on to the red carpet.
When I gave a speech for International Women's Day, and Ban Ki-moon led the standing ovation, I thought, 'This right here is the point.' To use whatever status I have as an actress to make a tangible impact. I've never wanted to be a lady who lunches; I've always wanted to be a woman who works. And this type of work is what feeds my soul. The degree to which I can do that both on and off camera is a direct perk of my job. 
There is a myth that those who do humanitarian work have a saviour mentality, but the relationship is reciprocal. I returned to Rwanda earlier this year as Global Ambassador for World Vision and met a young girl named Claire, who was on the third hour of her walk to bring her father medicine. I was struck by the steadfast nature in which she did it. There was no other option, so she powered on. These simple acts of grace are the most powerful anchor to what's important. And in the entertainment industry, often riddled with superfluous demands, my barometer of what is valuable is validated on these trips. Not to mention, when I share my photos with my friends, they note that I never look happier than I do when I am on field missions. It's a different smile than the one for the paparazzi – it doesn't require any retouching.'

Meghan is also proud to be an ambassador for World Vision Canada. In February 2016, she once again travelled to Rwanda to witness World Vision’s water work. During her one-week visit to the country, she trekked to unclean water sources, visited clean water projects, helped build a well, and met many Rwandans whose hospitality and stories have made a lasting impression on her life. 


Speaking about how her work with the organisation and the trip coincides with her work supporting women, Meghan said: "What does water have to do with women's rights and what's the correlation there? I think what's been really interesting is - it's all so interconnected and when you look at something like that you say well building wells sure you have the water, you have the life source, but what it also does is enable young girls to not have to walk miles to get water for their family and instead they're able to stay in school and that education's going to foster them to be able to be very active in their society and empower them."


A video from Meghan's week there. It's amazing to see how a clean water source can transform a community and the ripple effect it has in education and medicine.


Meghan spent time at a school where girls can now attend thanks to recently built latrines. In the year after it was built, 200 more students were enrolled.



While visiting a school in the Gasabo region of the country she taught students to paint with watercolours, using water from a newly installed pipeline in their community.


The students created pictures based on their hopes and futures, which are now brighter because of the recent access to clean water. 


Meghan brought the paintings back to Canada to share the student artists’ stories and raise enough money to support additional water projects with World Vision. Meghan hosted the Watercolor Project fundraiser with 60 high-profile guests invited in March 2016.


The event raised $15,000 - enough to help World Vision build a new source of water for an entire community.


A look at one of the beautiful paintings by Chanceine who wants to be a gardener when she grows up. Each painting included the name of the child who created it and their career aspirations.


In January, Meghan travelled to Delhi with World Vision to meet to meet girls and women directly impacted by the stigmatization of menstrual health and to learn how it hinders girls’ education. Meghan penned an essay for Time in which she discussed the stigma surrounding menstruation in countries like India and Iran. "During my time in the field, many girls shared that they feel embarrassed to go to school during their periods, ill equipped with rags instead of pads, unable to participate in sports, and without bathrooms available to care for themselves, they often opt to drop out of school entirely...this is a shame-filled reality they quietly endure." Meghan looked to options for the future too, describing a microfinance movement called Myna Mahila Foundation, where women manufacture sanitary pads to sell in communities. The effort not only provides these resources to girls, but also fosters open communication about menstruation.


More from Meghan's essay 'How Periods Affect Potential':

'When a girl misses school because of her period, cumulatively that puts her behind her male classmates by 145 days. And that’s the mitigated setback if she opts to stay in school, which most do not. The latter elect to return home, increasing their subjection to dangerous work, susceptibility to being victims of violence, and most commonly, being conditioned for early childhood marriage. As a female in India, the challenge of survival begins at birth, first overcoming female feticide, then being victim to malnourishment, potentially abuse, and lack of access to proper sanitation facilities. Why, if she is able to overcome all of these challenges and finally get to school, should her education and potential to succeed, be sacrificed because of shame surrounding her period?
To remedy this problem, young girls need MHM, access to toilets, and at a most basic level, sanitary pads. Twenty-three percent of girls in India drop out of school because these factors are not at play. During my time in the slum communities outside of Mumbai, I shadowed women who are part of a microfinance system where they manufacture sanitary napkins and sell them within the community. The namesake of the organization, Myna Mahila Foundation, refers to a chatty bird (“myna”) and “mahila” meaning woman. The name echoes the undercurrent of this issue: we need to speak about it, to be “chatty” about it. Ninety-seven percent of the employees of Myna Mahila live and work within the slums, creating a system which as, Nobel Peace prize nominee Dr. Jockin Arputham shared with me, is the key to breaking the cycle of poverty and allowing access to education. In addition, the women’s work opens the dialogue of menstrual hygiene in their homes, liberating them from silent suffering, and equipping their daughters to attend school.
Beyond India, in communities all over the globe, young girls’ potential is being squandered because we are too shy to talk about the most natural thing in the world. To that I say: we need to push the conversation, mobilize policy making surrounding menstrual health initiatives, support organizations who foster girls’ education from the ground up, and within our own homes, we need to rise above our puritanical bashfulness when it comes to talking about menstruation.
Wasted opportunity is unacceptable with stakes this high. To break the cycle of poverty, and to achieve economic growth and sustainability in developing countries, young women need access to education. When we empower girls hungry for education, we cultivate women who are emboldened to effect change within their communities and globally. If that is our dream for them, then the promise of it must begin with us. Period.'

I hope you enjoyed learning about Meghan's work in support of women as much as I did. It's fantastic how she has carved out meaningful roles with global organisations and interesting to note how she's applied what she's learned to expand on ways she can contribute, from her 2015 speech in the UN to travels in Rwanda and her focus on issues such as water and the stigma around menstruation - both major factors in hindering the path for girls to receive a proper education. I also loved how she thought outside the box when doing watercolour paints with children in Gasabo and thought, how could these pictures help? She then created the Watercolor Project, and the fundraiser event raised $15,000. Imagine what she could achieve with a royal platform behind her...


We close with this quote from Meghan.

Sunday, 29 October 2017

When Harry Met Meghan & a Pride and Prejudice Country Home?

The clock went back last night and the sun has already set, as I write on this mild autumnal Sunday. Speaking of last night, the first of what I anticipate will be many documentaries about Harry and Meghan aired. When Harry Met Meghan: A Royal Romance began at 9 pm, perfectly clashing with gritty BBC show Gunpowder starring Jon Snow Kit Harrington. Although, I wasn't sure what to expect the royalist in me won out and I wanted to see if any new insights would be offered. There were no groundbreaking revelations (The Telegraph has dubbed it a load of nonsense), however, I found portions of it quite interesting. Katie Nicholl claims Harry had quite the crush on Meghan for two years, telling a friend who later had drinks with Nicholl: "He had a crush on Rachel Zane for two years, he told a friend his ideal girl was Meghan Markle from Suits." The show reiterates knowledge Meghan's longtime close friend Markus Anderson organised a meeting with a group of friends at Soho House on Dean Street.


It also continued to look at the media backlash she endured when the relationship became public. When Kensington Palace released the statement condemning the behaviour of the press, Prince Charles was on tour. Interestingly, according to the documentary neither he nor his office knew the statement was coming.

People who had worked with her parents during Meghan's childhood noted how close she is with them and her. The parts that shone in particular were clips and quotes shared by Meghan over the years herself. I thought this one in particular very striking - summing up the values her parents instilled in her:

"Both my parents came from little, so they made a choice to give a lot: buying turkeys for homeless shelters at Thanksgiving, delivering meals to people in hospices, giving spare change to those asking for it."

The most memorable analysis came from Sunday Express royal editor Camilla Tominey, who shared her views on Meghan's possible future role in the Royal family and the role of a modern princess:

"If Meghan wants to be more independent, then that's no bad thing for the monarchy. Moving forward, I don't think modern working women want Princesses to be seen and not heard anymore. They want them to make a contribution to public life in a very vocal sense.
If you look back to Princess Diana, yes she was a style icon and people followed what she wore and her haircut, but people also listened to what she said on issues like aids, HIV and landmines.
Two is better than one. If they are a united front supporting each other in their own charitable aims and endeavours, trying to gain publciity for them and also trying to carve out their own path, then they will see themselves as an enormous force for good, people that can really make a difference on a humanitarian level."

This echoes the strong views Meghan has on her involvement with philanthropic causes. For her role as UN women's advocate, she shadowed a UN intern for a week to prepare.


Unfortunately, it hasn't appeared on YouTube yet (I will certainly update the post should it become available). For those in the UK, you can view it on the Channel 4 player.


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As an avid lover of Jane Austen's works, this next story certainly piqued my interest. The Sunday Express reports: "It is a truth universally acknowledged that a gentleman who is in possession of both a good fortune and a young woman he intends to marry must be in need of a suitably elegant country seat. So it is fitting that Prince Harry, who has been house hunting in the Cotswolds, took Meghan Markle to see Luckington Court in Wiltshire, a manor that was used as Elizabeth Bennet’s family home in the BBC’s series of Jane Austen’s Pride And Prejudice, starring Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle."


The Grade II-listed Luckington Court at Luckington, two miles from Badminton, is currently on the market for £7.5 million via Woolley & Wallis.


Adam Helliker wrote: "Luckington Court, surrounded by woodland and with five cottages, was recommended to Harry by his old chum Thomas van Straubenzee, whose Mayfair property search company, VanHan, has drawn up a shortlist of potential royal roosts. The fact that Harry took Meghan to see the house confirms that he is serious about his future with the actress, with whom he has been going out for 15 months. She is expected to move here from Toronto (with her rescue dogs, Bogart and Guy) after she films her last season of Suits next month. Yesterday Woolley & Wallis, the agents in Marlborough marketing the house, refused to elaborate on the Prince’s visit, although they did confirm that the price has been reduced from £9million to £7.75million as its owner, June Pollock, is keen to move. But another local estate agent said: "Harry and Meghan spent two hours looking at Luckington, although we understand they haven’t made an offer yet." A source close to Harry acknowledges that the Prince "loved" Luckington, which is only eight miles from Prince Charles’s home, Highgrove, but says the search is "ongoing". "They both definitely want to be in the Cotswolds, they prefer it to Norfolk [where William and Kate have a house] and they are looking at a shortlist of properties – not too big or too showy, but obviously with the need for privacy and staff accommodation."


Let's take a peek inside...


One of the eight bedrooms.


If the rumours are true and Harry and Meghan are indeed house hunting in the Cotswolds, the 'Bennett House' would make for one beautiful country residence.


I think Elizabeth and Mr Darcy would approve :)


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We leave you this timely throwback from Meghan's Instagram on Halloween last year. News of the couple's budding romance had only recently broke. Harry was visiting and Meghan showed her lighter side by sharing a snap of her carved pumpkin.


An early Happy Halloween to all celebrating! As October comes to a close, could November be the month for a certain announcement?