• Video report by ITV News Correspondent Richard Pallot

A conversation about gender equality and female empowerment "can't happen without men," the Duchess of Sussex has said.

Meghan made the comments on Friday as she met with One Young World ambassadors at Windsor Castle for a roundtable discussion to improve gender equality.

A surprise guest was also at the event - her husband, Prince Harry. The couple arrived in a grey electric Audi. Harry was not expected to attend the event, but sat alongside his wife to meet delegates from around the world.

The participants – who represented organisations from countries including South Africa, Nigeria, Iraq, Malawi and Bangladesh – also shared their personal achievements and the best practices that had helped them overcome complex challenges and significant obstacles.

Beginning the discussion, Meghan, seated next to her husband, told the group: "In terms of gender equality, which is something I have championed for a long time, I think that conversation can’t happen without men being a part of it.

“So for this reason it made complete sense to let him (Harry) join today. So thank you for letting him crash the party.”

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex attend a roundtable discussion. Credit: Jeremy Selwyn/Evening Standard/PA

The roundtable was led by QCT chief executive Nicola Brentnall and moderated by One Young World counsellors, social media influencer Rossana Bee and Canada’s first openly gay Olympic gold medallist Mark Tewksbury.

Their use of the electric vehicle comes after the couple have been accused of hypocrisy for using private jets while supporting environmental campaigns.

Harry and Meghan heard from the founder of the south African organisation Motholung Network Against Women and Child Abuse, Lebogang Bogopane, about her personal experiences of familial domestic violence.

Ms Bogopane said: “I got married very young and experienced domestic violence. My mother is a survivor and I’m also a survivor. One day I said ‘I’m tired, this needs to stop’.”

She told the duchess about her project Bake for Hope, which provides locally baked bread – something that she said is still a luxury in certain parts of South Africa.

The roundtable is the couple’s first public engagement since an emotional television documentary in which they described the struggles of the past year.

In the programme, Harry & Meghan: An African Journey, Meghan admitted feeling vulnerable and spoke of the difficulty in coping with intense tabloid interest, saying: “It’s not enough to just survive something, that’s not the point of life. You have got to thrive.”

The duke also told of the pressure he felt trying to protect his family from unwanted media attention.

Harry and Meghan are president and vice president of The Queen’s Commonwealth Trust respectively.

Meghan is a long-standing supporter of One Young World, which she previously called “the best think tank imaginable”.