Does Meghan Markle's visit to Vancouver charity offer a clue to what the Sussexes' 'transitional period' will look like?

The flight by sea-plane from Vancouver Island to the Canadian mainland takes little more than 20 minutes. But Meghan’s decision to return to work is likely to have been carefully thought out behind the gates of the private coastal estate where she’s been staying.

The photographs captured of her leaving the island’s tiny harbour spoke volumes. She looked happy and relaxed making her first public appearance since she and Harry said they would "step back" as full-time royals.

Meghan didn’t take part in Monday’s Sandringham meeting, called by the Queen to regain control of the Sussex situation.

But Tuesday’s visit to a centre for disadvantaged women signals a determination to shape her own agenda; it also offers a clue to what the couple’s six month "transitional period" here in Canada will look like.

As Meghan sets her own agenda, ITV News Correspondent Rachel Younger reports on how the Sussexes are moving away from their former royal roles

The Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre is the kind of place Meghan has a long record of supporting.

The group, which provides a self space and practical help in one of Vancouver’s poorest areas, said her visit was "to discuss issues affecting women in the community".

Meghan wore jeans and a sweater in a photo posted by the centre, with the caption: "Look who we had tea with today."

And, if this appearance was anything to go by, the message it sends is very much one of business as usual; although possibly with fewer formalities.

The Duchess of Sussex has already returned to Canada, just days after arriving back in the UK. Credit: AP

It comes as the debate in Canada intensifies over who will pay for the family’s security.

The Canadian prime minister said his government had not been involved in Harry and Meghan's arrangements before they announced they would split their time between the UK and North America.

Justin Trudeau told Canada’s Global News: There are still a lot of decisions to be taken by the royal family, by the Sussexes themselves, as to what level of engagement they choose to have."

He added: "We are not entirely sure what the final decisions will be. I think most Canadians are very supportive of having royals here, but how that looks and what kind of cost is involved, there are still lots of discussions to be had."

The Queen and Canadian prime minister during a meeting at London's Buckingham Palace. Credit: AP

But one of the reasons Meghan looks so comfortable here may be down to the Canadian press and public’s inclination to leave them alone.

We have chosen not to show pictures of the house the Sussexes are staying in, but even filming in the closest town we have been told by a number of locals that we should put our cameras away.

There is still much to work out in practice.

Dr Mariel Grant, a professor of history at the University of Victoria believes the couple's stay could affect the delicate balance between the Crown and Canada, where the Queen remains head of state.

She told ITV News: "We have had members of the royal family living here before as our Governor General. But that was before the 1950s. Harry and Meghan aren’t coming here in an official capacity or taking on a royal role. These are uncharted waters."

But with Harry due to rejoin his wife and young son by the weekend, right now the couple seem keen to regain the initiative in a country that seems willing to give them the space they need.