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Meghan Markle meets Commonwealth scholars hours before jetting back to Canada
12 March 2020, 00:32
The Duchess of Sussex has met with Commonwealth scholars in her final solo public event as a senior royal.
She met with students to hear about their commitment to tackling global challenges at Buckingham Palace, shortly befre the Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey on Monday.
Just hours after the events, she is understood to have jetted back to Canada without husband Harry to be reunited with their son Archie.
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.
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."
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.
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.