On Monday, the 1844 Room in Buckingham Palace was the setting for Duchess Meghan’s final solo engagement as a working royal. Meghan hosted a meeting with the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU).
The meeting took place before she and Prince Harry attended the Commonwealth Service.
The Duchess spoke with 22 students from across the Commonwealth to hear about their commitment to tackling global challenges.
Students included Commonwealth Scholars, Chevening Scholars, and an Association of Commonwealth Universities Blue Charter Fellow from 11 Commonwealth countries in total; Malawi, India, Cameroon, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Pakistan, Ghana, Rwanda, Kenya, Malaysia, and Sri Lanka. They were split into four groups based on which of the four issues they were styding.
Meghan became a patron of The Association of Commonwealth Universities in January 2019, succeeding Queen Elizabeth, who had been the patron for 33 years before.
Although, she and Harry are stepping back as senior royals, Meghan will keep the patronage and her work with the ACU will continue. Still, the intimate gathering felt like part of a final chapter.
Before Meghan entered the room, Joanna Newman, Secretary General of the ACU, told the group: “You are all going to have a short period of time with our patron. She’s really interested in the work that we’re doing; she’s incredibly supportive.
“She is herself a scholar from the university where she got a scholarship [Northwestern University], so she understands the importance of scholarships. And she’s been a real champion of the work that universities do.”
Halima Ali, a lawyer from Kenya who is researching energy and natural resources at Queen Mary University of London, said that Meghan’s presence meant a lot.
“For Commonwealth and also African countries, to see her, her interest, her participation means a lot to us,” Ali said.
Timothy Biswick, a University of Leicester research fellow from Malawi, said: “I’m impressed with what she has been saying here. She knows what she’s talking about. It’s not just coming here and listening to us, she knows what she’s talking about in terms of climate change.”
He added: “She was talking about things in quite some detail so you know that this person knows what they are talking about and are passionate about it.”