Canada holds a very special place in both Harry and Meghan’s hearts. Meghan lived in Toronto for six years while she played Rachel Zane on Suits. She often spoke of her love for the country which she considered a second home. The couple spent much of the early months of their relationship at Meghan’s home there and in 2017, Meghan made her first official appearance by Harry’s side at the Invictus Games in Toronto. In addition to celebrating Commonwealth Day, I suspect there’s another element to today’s event; I understand aides are already planning an Autumn tour for the Duke and Duchess. Rumour has it they hope to combine a tour of Canada with several days in the US.
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. Supporting young people across member nations is at the heart of Harry and Meghan’s work. Last week, the Duchess was appointed vice president of the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust, of which Harry is president and the Queen serves as patron. The trust is very much in its infancy – it’s going to be fascinating to see how Harry and Meghan develop it in the years to come.
Kensington Palace said: “The UK is home to a dynamic and vibrant community of expat Canadians. Up to 500,000 Canadians currently live in the UK, a figure that reflects the strong, historic and enduring bond between the two countries.”
They were welcomed by Canada’s High Commissioner to the UK Janice Charette.
The Duchess received a beautiful bouquet of flowers.
The event was held at Canada House on Trafalgar Square.
The High Commission of Canada in the UK provides consular assistance to Canadians abroad and works to promote Canada in the UK. The Greek Revival building has served as the office of the High Commission of Canada for almost a century.
It was officially opened by Harry’s great-great-grandfather, King George V, in 1925. The King said: “Canada is a great country: alike in the literal sense of vast extent from ‘sea to sea’ and great in achievement and in promise: and it is right and necessary that its official representatives here should be housed in a manner worthy of the Dominion and adequate to the discharge of their ever-growing and important duties.”
Harry and Meghan talked to groups of young Canadians from a wide range of sectors including fashion, the arts, business and academia.
The Duchess met with young people involved in fashion and the arts.
‘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.’
They talked about their experiences as expats as well as opportunities for young people working in the Commonwealth.
The couple met young people making maple taffy (maple syrup cooled on snow to make sweets) as part of a traditional ‘Cabane à sucre’ or a ‘Sugar Shack’.
This young boy impressed with his creation 🙂
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‘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 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.’
Time for a group photo.
Harry and Meghan signed the visitors’ book.
They were given gifts for Baby Sussex including a maple leaf babygro and little moccasins.
Below, a full video from the engagement.
The Duke and Duchess departing.
The Duchess chose a gorgeous bespoke ensemble by Erdem. The choice of designer was a fitting one; Canadian Erdem has been established in London since 2005. Meghan has been a fan of his designs since she lived in Toronto. The rich bottle green coat and dress are crafted in wool fabric and feature black floral beaded embellishment. As with many of Meghan’s recent maternity choices, the look has a 1960’s Jackie Kennedy feel to it.
The look is from Erdem’s Autumn/Winter 2019 Collection (with many thanks to Japanese Ginger).
A closer look at the fabric.
The coat also has a fun connection to Meghan’s mom, Doria Ragland. According to Erdem, the black floral embellishments are known as the “Doria beaded rose embroidery.”
Meghan wore her trusty Aquazzura Deneuve pumps.
And carried her Givenchy black clutch.
Meghan accessorised with her Birks Yellow Gold and Opal earrings.
She wore the earrings on the day of the engagement.
We’ll see the couple this afternoon for the Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey. They are expected to arrive before 3 pm.