It was back to work for Harry and the lady in red, Meghan as the couple carried out their first joint engagement of 2019 this morning. Following their festive break in Sandringham, both Meghan and Harry looked happy and refreshed as they traveled up north to Birkenhead in Merseyside.
Meghan and Harry were invited to the town by MP Frank Field to visit local projects and organizations that support and empower groups within the community.
Birkenhead is around 220 miles from London, so Harry and Meghan arrived via Helicopter.
Meghan and Harry started the day heading to Hamilton Square to unveil a plaque for a new sculpture marking the 100th anniversary of celebrated poet and soldier Wilfred Owen’s death.
The statue, which is named after one of Wilfred’s poets, ‘Futility’, is cast in bronze and represents an exhausted World War One soldier. Born March 19, 1893, and killed November 4, 1918, Wilfred was known for his anger at the cruelty and waste of war and his pity for its victims. He also is significant for his technical experiments in assonance, which were particularly influential in the 1930s.
Harry and Meghan also unveiled a plaque to mark their visit, before meeting local veterans and members of the Birkenhead Institute Old Boys, to which Wilfred Owen belonged.
Then it was time to greet some fans at a public walkabout, where the couple was spoiled with many gifts for baby Sussex, including a babygro bearing the words ‘Born in 2019’ by eight-year-old Harry Edwards and Megan O’Carroll, of St Werburgh’s. The students were among 16 pupils whose names were pulled out of a hat by teachers to attend the walkabout and see Meghan and Harry.
When Harry learned that it was Megan’s ninth birthday, Harry asked her: ‘Has anyone sung Happy Birthday to you yet? No? I think we should…’, leading the crowd in the song. Meghan later joined and said: ‘I missed a happy birthday that was happening!’
When she found out that it was for her little namesake, Meghan leaned down to shake her hand, saying: ‘Happy birthday, Megan!” And when she realized Megan was standing with another Harry, she giggled: “Oh my gosh, really? Megan and Harry? That’s really sweet, that’s so nice.”
Meghan also spotted a handmade sign by nine-year-old Lewis Avis-Taylor from Park Primary School in Wallasey, which read: ‘Welcome Harry and Meghan’.
During the walkabout, Meghan revealed that neither she nor Harry know the sex of Baby Sussex. The information was revealed during a conversation with nine-year-old Kitty Dudlet, who later said: “Meghan came up to me and asked me how old I was and where I went to school. I could see her bump and I asked if she was having a boy or a girl and she said, ‘we don’t know whether it’s a boy or girl, we are keeping it as a surprise”.
Meghan’s name sister, Meghan Redford, quizzed Meghan on baby names saying: ‘She asked me if I was called Meg or Meghan because she said her friends call her Meg and mine do as well. I asked her whether she would call her baby Amy if she had a girl and she said, ‘That’s a really pretty name, I like it, we’ll have to think about it’.
Meghan also told the crowd when she’s due to give birth to Baby Archie.
“We asked her how her pregnancy was going, and she said she was six months and she tapped her tummy,” Carla Gandy revealed and added that Meghan said she was due in late April.
Another woman said: “she said her pregnancy had gone so quickly. I asked her how she was coping on those high heels. She said, ‘One day at a time!’”
Meghan told the crowd she was ‘feeling really well’ and thanked locals including 92-year-old Dorothy Parker from Hoylake for waiting in the cold to see her.
Dorothy later explained: ‘I thanked Meghan for coming to see us and asked her how she was feeling. She told me she was feeling really well and said the best part of her day was meeting me. She’s such a lovely woman and so beautiful I’m delighted I got to meet her.’
Harry met one of his youngest fans in the crowd after she caught his eye holding a ‘gingers unite’ poster.
He said, ‘I love this! Do you love your hair? The sign is amazing!’ Harry stopped as he and Meghan spent more than 45 minutes chatting to the crowds.
A video from the walkabout
Another nice video from Victoria Murphey
Harry and Meghan’s second stop took them to Birkenhead’s new Citizen’s Supermarket – Number 7 Café, a Feeding Birkenhead citizen’s supermarket, and community café.
Feeding Birkenhead is a coalition of churches, food banks, community groups, and other organizations working together to eliminate hunger in the Merseyside town.
It enables local families to buy their weekly shopping at a discounted price, and provides advice and advocacy on benefits, looking for work, debt, budgeting, and cooking.
Meghan and Harry were given a tour of the small supermarket – and during the tour, Harry asked questions about where the food came from while Meghan wondered whether clients were given a recipe card to help them. “They do? Great!” she said. When she saw the the upmarket-looking shelves, Meghan said: “That’s the thing, the aesthetics are so incredibly important because it just feels like an experience anyone else would have at an ordinary supermarket.”. Meghan also praised the lack of plastic and customers’ ability to buy just one item of fresh fruit or veg. She said: “So you don’t need to get six of something? That’s really refreshing.”
Harry and Meghan met with a number of the supermarket’s staff and members, learning more about how Number 7 helps to build the community’s resilience against hunger.
The Duchess appeared particularly impressed with the initiative, proclaiming it “amazing” and revealing she had been in discussions with Frank Field MP about visiting since the autumn. The royal couple’s conversions saw them happily talk about their baby, due in the spring, and call Number 7 a “prototype for the world”.
“You can say it’s got the royal seal of approval now,” said Harry.
Earlier that day, greeting crowds in Hamilton Square, the couple were bombarded with questions about their baby, relaying information about the due date and unknown sex repeatedly with good grace. Kim Thompson, who spoke to the Duchess, disclosed afterwards: “She said she is six months pregnant and due at the end of April, beginning of May.” The Duke, his wife told another well wisher, would make “a fantastic father”.
At the cafe, the Duchess declined the offer of coffee due to her pregnancy but asked for a mint tea “or something herbal”. She also sampled the cafe’s lemon drizzle cake, made by staff member Caroline Noble from her mother’s recipe, and called it “delicious”.
Meghan also had a conversation with 23-weeks pregnant Angela Midgely who gifted Meghan a Moses basket full to the brim with baby clothes and toiletries. When she saw it Meghan laughed and said “neither of us should be lifting right now.” In turn, both looked at each other and placed their hands on their bumps, smiling. “We don’t know the sex of the baby,” Meghan added. “We’re keeping it a surprise – whichever way, we’ll be thrilled with the outcome.”
Meghan and Harry unveiled a plaque before departing.
And then, Meghan and Harry visited Tomorrow’s Women Wirral, an organization that supports women in vulnerable circumstances.
The communications officer of the charity, Sharna Kennedy said that Meghan and Harry were given “real insight” into what a day at the organization is like and heard directly from the women to hear their personal stories.
“Meghan has said in the past that ‘women don’t need to find a voice; they need to feel empowered to use it and they need people to listen.’ By this visit we will raise the profile for people to listen,” Sharna said.
Meghan also lit up the room with an unscripted speech.
She said: “I think we all know how important, for me, it is for women supporting each other. As my husband may have mentioned earlier to some of you, it’s also key that men are there supporting behind the scenes, and very presently, as well, so I think I can very safely say on behalf of both of us that it’s an honor to be here.”
Meghan added: “The courage that you have, the resilience that is being built with you being here, and just the journey that you’re gonna continue to take, you’re an inspiration to so many people, so thank you for having us.”
The last engagement of the day took Harry and Meghan to the Hive Wirral Youth Zone.
The Hive provides a safe environment where young people can come and enjoy themselves, build key skills and raise their aspirations and confidence. During their visit, Meghan and Harry chatted to some of the young members as they participated in a number of activities and workshops throughout the center.
And here, Meghan displayed her magic touch once again. Lauren and Millie, both 13, met the couple at the center’s cosmetology studio, handing white roses to the duchess upon arrival. They were both surprised when she pulled two out, telling the teen girls, “Everything’s better when you share.” (While Harry didn’t have flowers to hand out, he joked that he’d like for the girls to share some nail art secrets so he could tell his wife).
Millie credits The Hive for keeping herself and friends out of trouble. “They asked us how was life before The Hive and how is life after,” she tells BAZAAR.com. “I was always getting into trouble out on the streets and now The Hive has opened, it’s somewhere to go and things to get involved with and friends you can do stuff with.”
While walking around the center, Meghan remarked, “It’s amazing to come and see how much impact projects like this have on a community.”
Harry and Meghan then unveiled a plaque to mark their visit.
As the couple prepared to take a helicopter back to Kensington Palace (an hour late from spending extra time at each engagement), it wasn’t just the people they met who felt inspired. Field, who was with the couple for two of their engagements, tells BAZAAR.com he and the Duchess plan to work on future projects together.
“I’ve been briefing her on how we counter modern slavery, how we’re going to take that further,” he reveals. “The duchess said these are projects that we take, not just to the rest of the county, but to the world. So I’m going to talk to the duchess before she has her baby. I said, ‘Can I see you after [the baby is born],’ she said ‘No, before.’
“She’s definitely a very, very active member of the royal family,” Field added. “And so is he… What you see [with them] is this ability of taking the monarchy into this century.”
For today’s engagements, Meghan arrived wearing bold color on bold color, with a purple dress and equally bright red coat. It’s a completely different look for Meghan, who typically opts for demure shades of nude, navy, and black for her royal appearances.
The red coat Meghan wore is the Long Wide Collar Wrap Coat by Sentaler
You’ll recall that Meghan wore the same style on Christmas Day in 2017.
She styled it with the purple Babaton by Artizia Maxwell dress
The red and purple color combination of Meghan’s outfit today is definitely unexpected, but it’s been done before. Princess Diana blended colors on several occasions, most memorably during a 1989 trip to Hong Kong when she paired a purple skirt with a red cardigan topped by a hat featuring both shades.
She wore the Stuart Weitzman ‘Leigh 105’ Red Suede Pumps.
And carried the Gabriela Hearst Demi bag in cognac.
Meghan accessorized with her Pippa Small Nosheen Stud earrings.
Stay tuned – we will see Meghan again on Wednesday where she is visiting her patronage Mayhew. She will join Harry to attend the premiere of TOTEM – Cirque du Soleil at the Royal Albert Hall in support of Sentebale in the evening.