Fresh from her visit to the National Theatre in London yesterday, Meghan stepped out in Givenchy today, to meet with The Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU).
Earlier this month, The Queen passed the patronage of the ACU to Meghan. Kensington Palace said that the ACU is “the world’s first and oldest international university network, and the only org representing higher education across all 53 Commonwealth countries.”
Given Prince Harry’s role as Commonwealth Youth Ambassador, the news of Meghan becoming their new patronage only further suggests that both Meghan and Harry will be focusing attention on the Commonwealth in the months to come.
Dr. Joanna Newman, the ACU’s chief executive, and secretary-general said about the news: “We are absolutely delighted that HRH The Duchess of Sussex has chosen to become Patron of the ACU. The Duchess shares our passion for the transformational power of higher education, and Her Royal Highness’ support will help champion higher education as a force for good in the Commonwealth and beyond. We would like to thank Her Majesty The Queen for her support, and we look forward to working closely with The Duchess as our Patron.”
It’s been a busy start of the year for Meghan; She visited the Smart Works charity immediately after announcing her new patronages at the beginning of January. She paid a visit to the Mayhew on January 16th, and yesterday, she made her first public visit to the National Theatre.
The ACU shared the following tweet ahead of Meghan’s arrival
Discussing Meghan’s visit today on Twitter, Victoria Murphy said: “Meghan will see the work of @The_ACU today as she completes her first round of official visits to her four new patronages. She will meet students from the Commonwealth studying in the UK, for whom access to university has transformed their lives, at City, University of London.”
Meghan was warmly welcomed by members of the association upon arrival. Also, hundreds of screaming students greeted her as she stepped out of the car.
An arrival video:
Today isn’t the first time Meghan has met with members of the ACU. You’ll recall that The ACU revealed back in December 2018 that, in a private meeting, Meghan had met with “university leaders, academics & #students to discuss how we can build a better world through #highered.” Clearly, the duchess has been preparing for the important patronage for quite some time:
Established in 1913, The ACU has over 500 member institutions in over 50 countries across the Commonwealth, making it the world’s oldest international network of universities. The mission is to promote and support excellence in higher education for individuals and societies throughout the Commonwealth. The ACU seeks to address issues in international higher education through a range of projects, networks, and events, by drawing on the collective experience and expertise.
This year marks the 60th anniversary of the Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan and the launch of the Queen Elizabeth Commonwealth Scholarships, which build Commonwealth connections among students through education.
We saw first-hand Meghan’s passion for accessible education during a speech on her first royal tour back in October 2018. When speaking to a group of students at the University of the South Pacific in Fiji, Meghan said, “Everyone should be afforded the opportunity to receive the education they want, but more importantly the education they have the right to receive. And for women and girls in developing countries, this is vital.”
During her visit, Meghan took part in an interactive workshop to showcase how the ACU is building a better world through higher education.
Below, Meghan hearing “a presentation from Meera Sabaratnam, who is leading a push to decolonize the curriculum at the School of Oriental and African Studies.” Reportedly, Meghan said, having heard the talk, “Just open up that conversation so we are talking about it as opposed to continuing with that daily rote… sometimes that approach can be really antiquated and needs an update.”
A series of discussion groups themed around the ACU’s key areas of work, such as gender equity, access and inclusion, and sustainability, gave researchers from across the Commonwealth an opportunity to demonstrate to Meghan how their work is directly contributing to this vision. Meghan also spoke of her struggle to finance her higher education and her ‘personal feeling of pride and excitement’ when she studied for her degree.
She described the education of women and girls in developing countries as ‘vital’, and called higher education’s impact ‘incredible, impactful and pivotal’.
Meghan also met Mayamiko, a Chevening Scholar from Malawi, currently studying SEN Disability and Inclusive Education. While speaking with Mayamiko, Meghan also chatted with fellow scholars Hilary, Ntani and Almachius in Ghana via Skype.
Dr Ephraim Kisangala, a Commonwealth PhD scholar from Uganda, who is studying Public Heath and Health Promotion at Bangor University, spoke to Meghan about his thesis on menstrual hygiene management in refugee settlements in his country.
He said afterwards: ‘The Duchess was very passionate about our work; I could tell she had a genuine concern for the women we are trying to help. She has been to Africa and has also identified the problem herself in the past for the women who are suffering due to the attitudes towards menstruation across the world. My research is specifically targeted at finding solutions to assist women in refugee settlements in Uganda and the Duchess said more must be done to help these women. The most affected are women and children who flee without even the basic of necessities. I told the Duchess how Uganda hosts the second largest number of refugees in the world, 70% of whom arrived in the last few months. The Duchess said to me how shocked she was and how it was so important to raise awareness of this issue so that more can be done. Because she has been to Africa, she also identified with many of the myths and taboos surrounding this issue and was particularly aware of how poor menstruation management leads not only to disease but an incredible rate of school drop out for young girls.’
Also, the ACU staff had the opportunity to meet with Meghan to talk with her about how their work supports their vision – from Queen Elizabeth Commonwealth Scholarships to innovative programmes designed to improve access to higher education.
Meghan stayed more than twenty minutes longer than scheduled, trying to meet and talk with as many students as possible. ACU´s Chief Executive and Secretary General, Joanna Newman said: ‘Today was a fantastic opportunity to demonstrate how the ACU brings together people from across the Commonwealth and beyond through our unique network of universities, to advance knowledge, promote understanding, broaden minds, and improve lives. We’re looking forward to continuing to work with The Duchess as our Patron’.
President of City, University of London, Professor Sir Paul Curran said: ‘It was an honour to welcome Her Royal Highness to City as Patron of the Association of Commonwealth Universities. City is one of the UK’s most popular universities for international students and staff, notably those from Commonwealth countries, so we were particularly proud to host her visit. Our membership of the ACU, the world’s first international university network, is something in which we take great pride’.
The Duchess’s patronage will help raise the profile of the ACU and our work advancing sustainable development through higher education across the Commonwealth.”
As Meghan departed, the crowds began to scream ‘Meghan Meghan’ – and of course, Meghan could not leave without quickly greeting the crowd.
You can watch a recap from the visit below
For today’s visit, Meghan brought back her bespoke Givenchy coat. You’ll recall Meghan first wore the Givenchy coat on Remembrance Sunday in November 2017.
Underneath, Meghan wore a bespoke Givenchy dress with a pleated skirt. Givenchy is her ultimate go-to and was, of course, the label Meghan chose to create her stunning wedding dress. Meghan has worn Givenchy for several occasions since joining the royal family.
She styled it with her Manolo Blahnik BB Pumps in Beige Suede
And accessorized with her Dean Davidson Signature Knockout studs
Meghan has one last event this week: she and Harry will visit Bristol tomorrow. There, they’ll “meet members of the public, learn more about the city’s rich cultural history, and visit organizations supporting communities most in need,” according to Kensington Palace.