Following the announcement that the Duchess of Sussex is now the royal patron of four different organizations, Meghan stepped out in London to visit one of them: Smart Works.
Smart Works is one of Meghan’s first four royal patronages, announced earlier this morning by Kensington Palace. The three other charities Meghan will be working with are the National Theatre, the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU), and Mayhew! As reported by The Telegraph, Meghan “is understood to have paid numerous quiet visits to each of the charities already.”
Kensington Palace also stated that the charities chosen“ reflect the causes and issues with which she has long been associated including the arts, access to education, support for women, and animal welfare.”
Meghan was warmly welcomed by Smart Works founder and former Vogue UK fashion editor Juliet Hughes-Hallett! Juliet said: “We’ve welcomed the Duchess on private visits, and she’s been amazing right from the start. When you step into Smart Works, everyone feels we’re on your side. We’ve taken the weight off your shoulders. We’re women helping other women to succeed, and that is what Meghan has always been about.” She continued: The Duchess’s patronage will inspire the women we serve and help them reach for the stars.
Inside the buildings of Smart Works, Meghan met with staff members and got to hear about the work and the goals of the organization. She was also introduced to women who have benefited from Smart Works and heard about their experience in finding a job after the program.
Meghan shared with the group: “I’m so happy to be here. You guys know I’ve been quietly coming by… close to a year.” She added: “It’s nice to be able to now do it publicly and really talk about the work that you do.”
Later, talking about the charity’s work, she was heard saying: “It’s not just donating your clothes and seeing where they land,” she said. “It’s really being part of each other’s success stories as women, right?”
The UK charity Smart Works helps unemployed women back into the workplace by providing interview clothes, interview training, and styling advice. The charity aims to give women the confidence and the tools they need to succeed at interviews and achieve their employment goals. Smart Works’ impact is one of the many reasons Meghan was keen to become a patron of the charity, which provides services in six UK cities and has helped thousands of women find jobs since 2013.
“What the Duchess has connected with and what we love about the service is that it’s so tangible,” Juliet Hughes-Hallett said. “Sixty percent of women leave here and go on and get the job, so we can point out that this is making a real difference. It’s the things that you need to succeed.”
Smart Works has helped over 11,000 women and aims to dress 3,500 women this year across their two London offices, and additional bases in key cities across the U.K. (Edinburgh, Manchester, Reading, Birmingham, and Newcastle).
Speaking to a group of women at the charity, Meghan discussed the importance of women supporting one another to better themselves. Meghan also discussed the importance of donating clothes to the charity, which helps women in need to find the perfect outfit for job interviews.
Meghan heard from Ashwak Dadey how Smart Works helped her with interview coaching and confidence which then resulted in her getting a new job as a digital project manager
During her visit, Meghan also helped two newly employed ladies put together looks from the charity’s carefully-curated rails, which feature donations from supporters including Burberry, Hobbs, Jigsaw, Kate Spade, LK Bennett, Marks & Spencer, and Whistles.
“It was so exhilarating to meet the Duchess,” said the 55-year-old mom of three, Patsy Wardally, who had to stop work as a trained plumber to look after her daughter with autism for 16 years. She works at Gatwick Airport today as a passenger services agent. “She picked out a Hobbs cape, a pair of earrings, a bracelet, and a handbag for me,” Patsy said. “She chose things that were fantastic, and now I feel much more confident and more beautiful.”
During her visit, Meghan was chatting to Juliet Hughes-Hallett, when she revealed that a story of a time she had donated a handbag to SmartWorks, and then suggested to a woman that she wears it. “The last time I was here I suggested a purse to someone,” she laughed, recalling the moment. “It was one that I donated, and she didn’t like it… I was like ‘Okay.’ I thought it was great!”
A lot of the clothes and accessories are gifted to the charity by fashion brands, but Smart Works also receives many items from women around the country through individuals; “It’s not just donating your clothes and seeing where they land but really being part of each others’ success stories as women. It’s not just hand-me-downs, it’s saying, ‘Okay, this is the blazer I wore that helped me land that interview and I want this to be the piece that helps this woman have that part of her story.’ So to know as a woman coming in that you have so many other women believing in you [for] all the next phases, it’s that piece that makes it so special.” Meghan said during the visit
Credit: PA Images / Alamy Stock Photo
Below, a nice video from the engagement
For her first engagement of the year, Meghan opted for a sand Oscar de la Renta cotton-twill coat
Underneath, she wore the Eliza dress by Hatch
It appears to be the same dress, Meghan wore for her visit to the ACU in December.
Meghan accessorized the outfit with a pair of pumps from Gianvito Rossi which she has owned for several years
Meghan previously wore the shoes in 2015 for a photoshoot for Gritty Pretty Magazine.
We also saw the shoes on Meghan’s Instagram when she posted a picture of her shoe collection.
Meghan also accessorized her outfit with the Kamai Felicity earrings.
Let’s have a look at Meghan’s other patronages that were announced today! The past year has been full of firsts for Meghan, and today, she took a huge step forward in her role as a working member of the royal family. This morning, Meghan announced that she is to become the patron of four charities:
Mayhew is a charity that focuses on one of Meghan’s clear interests: animal welfare.
The charity is formerly known as The Mayhew Animal Home and is an animal welfare charity working to improve the lives of dogs, cats and the people in local communities – both in London and internationally.
Kensington Palace reports that the group is a “grassroots charity working in a unique way to improve the lives of animals and people to better communities both in London and internationally.”
The charity shared the happy news on twitter saying: “We’re honoured to reveal that Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Sussex has become a Patron of Mayhew. We’re thrilled that HRH shares our commitment to improving the lives of animals and people, and are excited to make a difference together
London’s National Theatre
I don’t think Meghan succeeding Queen Elizabeth as the royal patron of London’s National Theatre was a well-kept secret. The rumors about her taking on the role, started earlier this month, when the news reported that the Queen had decided to give the Duchess the position. The organization itself also accidentally broke the news yesterday ahead of the announcement with a post on their website:
As said before: The National Theatre patronage was previously held by Queen Elizabeth II (she helped open the theatre’s building back in 1976), but she has passed it on to Meghan as a continuation of her efforts to scale back on her commitments and introduce the world to the new faces of the monarchy. The position also sounds like a perfect fit for Meghan, given that she was an actress before she became a royal. Oh, and let’s not forget that she has a bachelor’s degree in theatre from Northwestern University. It’s also been reported that Meghan met privately with Rufus Norris, the artistic director of the National Theatre late last year.
The revealed statement focused on Meghan’s belief in “using the arts to bring people from different backgrounds and communities together.”
Adding, “The National Theatre’s mission is to make world class theatre that’s entertaining, challenging, and inspiring – and to make it for everyone. It aims to reach the widest possible audience and to be as inclusive, diverse and national as possible with a broad range of productions that play in London, on tour around the UK, on Broadway and across the globe.”
The Association of Commonwealth Universities
In addition to the National Theatre, the Queen has also given Meghan the patronage of the Association of Commonwealth Universities. 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, this 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.”