The Duke and Duchess of Sussex kicked off Commonwealth Day with a visit to Canada House in London
Monday morning’s event celebrated community of young Canadians living in London and around UK
The pregnant duchess wore £485 Aquazzura pumps and a coat by Montréal-born Erdem Moralioglu
Couple took part in Canadian tradition of making maple taffy (maple syrup cooled on snow to make sweets)
Meghan, 37, lived in Toronto for over six years and has said she regards Canada as her ‘second home’
After their morning engagement, the couple will join the Queen for a special service at Westmisnter
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex kicked off celebrations for Commonwealth Day – and their new roles at the forefront of the ‘family of nations’ – with a visit to London’s Canada House on Monday morning.
Meghan, who is eight months pregnant, chose a coat and matching dress by Canadian designer Erdem, teamed with £485 Aquazzura pumps, as she arrived at Trafalgar Square with Prince Harry.
The bottle green wool number by the Montreal-born designer featured black embellishment on the cuffs and collar, described by the label as ‘Doria beaded rose embroidery’ – coincidentally the name of Meghan’s mother.
It is a custom piece inspired by a look from Montréal-born Erdem Moralioglu’s Autumn/ Winter 2019 collection, inspired by the late Italian Princess Orietta Doria Pamphilj, and the entire ensemble is estimated to have cost around £8,000 by celebrity stylist Lucas Armitage.
While the coat and dress have been specially tailored to accommodate Meghan’s baby bump, the royal family are known to employ private dressmakers to make alterations should she choose to re-wear the outfit after giving birth.
Meghan teamed the look with a Givenchy clutch, £568 Maison Birks opal earrings and a £363 Kismet by Milka bracelet.
Protective father-to-be Harry guided his pregnant wife out of the car and onto the curb, before Meghan put an affectionate arm on his back as the couple made their way into the building.
Before departing, they were given some gifts for Baby Sussex; a £14.29 Canadian maple leaf baby bodysuit from Hop & Moo and a pair of £42.86 Manitobah Mukluks infant moccasins.
Harry made staff laugh by sniffing inside the moccasins, saying: ‘I’m sniffing the insides to check if they are leather or not, not because they are smelly.’
As the couple left, Meghan – negotiating her way down the steps in her 4in heels and holding onto Harry’s arm – was presented with posies by Asya Karkaria, nine, and Michael McCarthy, eight, both from Ottawa, whose parents work at Canada House.
Asya, who gave a charming little curtsy, said Meghan had asked where she was from and said it was a pleasure to meet her.
The duke and duchess, who are expecting their first child next month, took part in the Canadian spring tradition of making maple taffy (maple syrup cooled on snow to make sweets) as part of a traditional cabane à sucre (sugar shack).
‘Does anyone want one?’ Meghan asked the 30 children vying to see how many they could eat of the sweets, which are made by pouring hot maple syrup on ice and then rolling it onto a ‘popsickle’ stick. ‘How many have you had?’ she asked one little boy. ‘Seven? Oh my goodness.’
She gave her own taffy to a nine-year-old girl, Elodie-Rose Duguay-Inegbese, from Shippagan, New Brunswick, who had only eaten two. ‘It was really fun and Meghan’s really pretty. She was very kind and I liked talking to her,’ said the little girl, whose mother Sylvie works at the high commission.
The royal couple, whose first child is due at the end of next month, were escorted around the grand Greek Revival building on Trafalgar Square by the Canadian high commissioner Janice Charette, who said she kept dropping hints about them visiting Canada soon but got no firm commitment. ‘I think their priority is the baby first,’ she said.
The high commissioner told the royal couple: ‘We trust that your visit to Canada House today has served as a reminder of happy times spent in Canada. We do kind of claim you.’
‘I’ll take that!’ said Meghan, laughing. She fondly reminisced about her time in Toronto, asking all the young people she met where they came from and which districts if they were from the city.
‘Everyone here seems to be from Toronto,’ Harry, 34 said. ‘It’s such a great place, his 37-year-old wife replied.
When they met Michelle Keller-Hobson, who works for a Canadian investment firm, Wealthsimple, that encourages people to save and invest with as little as £1, Meghan asked what proportion of customers were women.
Ms Keller-Hobson said 38 per cent in the UK but explained the figure was higher in Canada. She said women in Britain often had less money to invest because of the gender pay gap and other factors.
Meghan, an ardent feminist, told her: ‘It’s so important what you are doing. Keep it up.’
Today’s event, hosted by Canadian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom Janice Charette, was designed to showcase and celebrate the diverse community of young Canadians living in London and around the UK.
During their visit , the couple had the opportunity to talk to groups of young Canadians from a wide range of sectors including fashion, the arts, business and academia, about their experiences as expats as well as opportunities for young people working in the Commonwealth.
Los Angeles native Meghan lived in Canada, described as her ‘second home’, for over six years while filming for legal drama Suits in Toronto and has previously said she feels ‘very connected’ to the country.
The Queen has put Harry and Meghan at the forefront of her Commonwealth duties by making them President and Vice President of the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust, an organisation promoting young people around the world.
Commonwealth Day has a special significance this year, as 2019 marks the 70th anniversary of the modern Commonwealth – a global network of 53 countries and almost 2.4 billion people.
Before departing, the couple will attend a short reception and watch a musical performance before hearing a short speech from High Commissioner, H.E. Ms. Janice Charette.
The UK is home to a large community of expat Canadians; an estimated 500,000 Canadians are have made the country their home.
Later, Harry and Meghan will join the Queen along with other senior members of the royal family and leading figures from national life to attend the Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey.
In her message to mark the occasion, the Queen has praised how the ‘family of nations’ inspires its member states to find ways of protecting the planet and its citizens.
Millions of people are ‘drawn together’ because of the collective values shared by the institution, the monarch says in her address to the 53 countries of the Commonwealth.
The written message is featured in the order of service for the annual Commonwealth Day service being held at Westminster Abbey later today.
The Queen, who is head of the Commonwealth, says in her message: ‘In April last year, I welcomed the leaders of our 53 nations to Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, and we all witnessed how the Commonwealth vision offers hope, and inspires us to find ways of protecting our planet, and our people.
‘We are able to look to the future with greater confidence and optimism as a result of the links that we share, and thanks to the networks of co-operation and mutual support to which we contribute, and on which we draw.
‘With enduring commitment through times of great change, successive generations have demonstrated that whilst the goodwill for which the Commonwealth is renowned may be intangible, its impact is very real.’
The Queen will be joined at the Commonwealth Day service by the Prince of Wales, Duchess of Cornwall, Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Duke and Duchess of Sussex and the Duke of York.
Other guests among the 2,000-strong congregation will include Prime Minister Theresa May, the Commonwealth Secretary-General Baroness Scotland, alongside high commissioners, ambassadors, faith leaders and more than 800 schoolchildren and young people.
The theme for this year’s service is ‘A Connected Commonwealth’ which highlights the co-operation between the culturally diverse family of nations who work together in friendship.
Highlights of the service include performances by Grammy-winning group Clean Bandit and tenor Alfie Boe.
A reflection will be given by Lewis Pugh, an endurance swimmer, ocean advocate and the UN Patron of the Oceans.
Later in the evening, Charles and Camilla will be guests of the Commonwealth Secretary-General at the annual reception which traditionally takes place on Commonwealth Day at Marlborough House, the home of the Commonwealth Secretariat, the institution’s civil service.
Last year, the Queen told foreign dignitaries of her ‘sincere wish’ that they pick Prince Charles to take over as leader of the Commonwealth and ‘carry on’ the ‘important work’ started by her father in 1949.
Source: DAILYMAIL MAILONLINE