1. ITV Report

Meghan met Commonwealth scholars at Buckingham Palace before returning to Canada

The Duchess of Sussex during a meeting in her role as Association of Commonwealth Universities patron. Credit: The Duke and Duchess of Sussex/Chris Allerton/PA

The Duchess of Sussex met Commonwealth scholars to hear about their commitment to tackling global challenges, ahead of her final official public duty as a senior royal.

Meghan, in her role as patron of the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU), chatted with the students at Buckingham Palace, before the Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey on Monday.

Newly-released photographs of the American former actress show Meghan, who was wearing a fitted navy cap-sleeve dress with neck scarf detail, listening to one scholar, and in the centre of a group photo in the 1844 Room of the Queen’s London home.

Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, at Buckingham Palace. Credit: The Duke and Duchess of Sussex/Chris Allerton/PA

The images were taken by her wedding photographer, Chris Allerton.

Meghan told the scholars, who were split into four groups looking at different challenges: “Everyone is connected because of this very holistic approach to tackling climate change. I love how solution-based you all are.”

A source said: “She was thrilled to have the chance to meet inspirational scholars doing ground-breaking work in the fields of climate and the environment, sustainable cities, health and innovation and technology.”

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Earlier this week The Duchess of Sussex, in her role as Patron of the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU), met with the bright minds from across the Commonwealth to hear about their commitment to tackling the global challenges we all face. The Duchess spoke with Scholars studying and researching important areas surrounding; cleaning up plastic pollution in our oceans, helping to build more sustainable cities, improving health outcomes for citizens, and supporting decent work and economic growth. Paving the way as the next generation of leaders, these inspirational scholars, are spread far across the Commonwealth from Malawi to Malaysia, Ghana to Sri Lanka – all of whom will use the skills and knowledge they gain while studying in the UK to make a difference when they return to their home countries. The Duchess, who also attended university with support of a scholarship, is a strong advocate of accessible education for all. As the Royal Patron of The Association of Commonwealth Universities (@The_ACU_Official) since January 2019, The Duchess has met and engaged with students, academics, and staff from ACU member universities across the Commonwealth to learn more about the vital work they do to address global challenges. As President and Vice President of The @Queens_Commonwealth_Trust, The Duke and Duchess thank all those who are working to give access to education for all.

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Meghan was made royal patron of ACU in January 2019, taking over from the Queen, who held the post for 33 years.

After walking away from the monarchy on March 31, the duchess will continue her links to ACU as patron.

The behind-the-scenes meeting took place during the duchess’ farewell tour, which culminated in Meghan and the Duke of Sussex appearing alongside other members of the royal family at the Abbey.

Joanna Newman, secretary general of the ACU, said the duchess’s understanding of the value of higher education was a key part of her association with the charity.

“She’s a very powerful spokesperson for us,” she said.

Harry and Meghan with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall and the Queen Credit: Phil Harris/Daily Mirror/PA

Timothy Biswick, a University of Leicester research fellow from Malawi, who is looking at microplastic pollution in the oceans, said of the duchess: “She knows what she’s talking about in terms of climate change.

“She was talking about things in quite some detail, so you know that this person knows what they are talking about and are passionate about it.”

The students included Commonwealth Scholars, Chevening Scholars and an ACU Blue Charter Fellow, from 11 Commonwealth countries – Malawi, India, Cameroon, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Pakistan, Ghana, Rwanda, Kenya, Malaysia and Sri Lanka.

Meghan is reported to have flown back to Canada soon after the Commonwealth Service.