Meghan Markle breaks cover with visit to women’s centre 24 hours after royal summit

15 January 2020, 13:06

Meghan was pictured in Canada
Meghan was pictured in Canada. Picture: Downtown Eastside Women's Centre
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

The Duchess of Sussex has been pictured on an outing in Canada just days after she and her husband announced they would "step back" from royal life.

Meghan was visiting the Downtown Eastside Women's Centre in Vancouver where she was talking about "issues affecting women in the community".

"Look who we had tea with today!" the shelter posted on their Facebook page alongside a photo of Meghan with a group of eight women.

The centre said: "The Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle, visited us today to discuss issues affecting women in the community."

Meghan is understood to be staying at a mansion on Vancouver Island. She left at around 10am today before taking seaplane to the mainland for the outing, according to reports.

The shelter provides counselling and hot meals for women and children in need. 

Prince Harry is due to fly back to Canada later this week after appearing at the draw for the Rugby League World Cup at Buckingham Palace on Thursday.

It comes just 24 hours after the Queen agreed Harry and Meghan could step back as senior royals and begin a "new life" as an "independent" family.

The couple will be stepping back from royal life
The couple will be stepping back from royal life. Picture: PA

The Downtown Eastside Women's Centre, founded in 1978, is a refuge for women and children in and around the neighbourhood, which is one of the most socially disadvantaged parts of the city.

Offering services to thousands of women each year, the centre, in the province of British Columbia, provides an emergency night shelter for women who are homeless or at risk of violence.

It hosts up to 150 women each night with beds for only 57, often taking in women who have been rejected by other shelters due to mental health or addiction issues.

The Downtown Eastside Women's Centre also offers meals and sanitary products, job training, HIV support and other community outreach programmes.

More than half of the women who use the centre are homeless or at risk of homelessness, with 72% of the centre members visiting at least four days a week.

Three-quarters (78%) of the centre visitors identify as Indigenous Canadians, who are significantly more affected by social issues than the rest of the population.

Meghan did not join the royal summit at Sandringham with the Queen and senior royals by phone earlier, when Prince Harry put forward the couple's views for their future.

A Buckingham Palace spokesperson said: "In the end, the Sussexes decided that it wasn't necessary for the duchess to join."

Harry and Meghan spent six weeks over the festive period based in the Canadian province of British Columbia staying at an exclusive property on Vancouver Island.

The duchess, a former actress, worked in Toronto during her time starring in the popular US drama Suits, and knows the country well having lived there for seven years.