The Fab Four Kick Off the Royal Foundation Forum

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Today was a big day: for the first time since her engagement was announced, Meghan Markle joined Prince Harry and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge for a working event. (In this case, I don’t count Christmas.) We’ve become accustomed to seeing William, Kate and Harry undertake engagements as a threesome, but until this afternoon had yet to see how the chemistry would adjust to incorporate Harry’s fiancée. By all appearances, she fits in well! She showed little sign of nerves and displayed an easy relationship with her future in-laws, particularly Kate.

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The Royal Foundation was set up by William and Harry years ago to serve as their primary charitable vehicle and drive their various philanthropic endeavors. Kate joined the effort when she and William married in 2011, and starting in May, Meghan will also become a patron. Today served as the organization’s first forum – or rather, a program that allowed them to bring together all of the charities that function under the Royal Foundation umbrella.

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It also provided an opportunity for all four to share insights on their role on behalf of their causes, which was interesting. William in particular noted the unique power they have to convene influential voices, while Meghan mentioned her impressions of watching Heads Together unfold within the structure of the Foundation over the last 18 months, saying:

“To see the model of the foundation is really interesting because, while I’ve worked with larger NGOs, I’ve also worked with really small grassroots organisations where you can see a higher level of impact in my opinion, because there’s a lot less red tape. What you are seeing here and what I noticed with Heads Together from a global perspective, because I wasn’t here obviously when it was happening, was the power of convening all of these small organisations who have this same issue but need that extra push and support under this umbrella, you are able to achieve that. And the impact they all made with Heads Together was tremendous. So I’m very excited to be able to work on initiatives similarly and have that same sort of impact globally.”

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The royals discussed how Heads Together came together, with William once again noting that it was Kate who first came up with the idea of a broader, national campaign, saying:

“Catherine was the one who joined the dots up and came up with the idea and the concept. Harry and I had never thought about doing a campaign before and when it comes to mental health it was very difficult to know where to start. It’s such a big issue and it is so entrenched in society in a negative way, sadly, that we weren’t quite sure how we would do it and how long it would take.”

When asked, Kate spoke directly to how the idea took shape (video courtesy of Rebecca English):

Meanwhile, Harry noted that the concept was first mapped out on the back of a cigarette packet…which brings me to a point I think we would be remiss not to address – these guys have definitely been secret smokers. Actually, Harry was never that secretive about it, but absolutely William and Kate lit up in their 20s, even if it was only when they were out drinking. If I’m not mistaken, Kate was once photographed with a pack poking out of her bag back in her Boujis days. The point is, I kind of like the idea of the three of them occasionally popping open a bottle of wine and smoking the odd cig – even if in all likelihood the bad habit was probably dropped years ago and I somehow can’t picture Meghan (California native and yogi) rolling with that one.

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William, Kate and Harry all gave brief remarks on various facets of the Royal Foundation, with William noting that though they have been quiet about the POV and utility of the foundation up until now, it will increasingly define their work. It was a message echoed by both Harry and Kate.

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Meghan’s big moment, meanwhile, likely came from her remarks on the need to empower women, which specifically referenced Time’s Up and #metoo.

Specifically, she said:

“I hear a lot of people speaking about girls’ empowerment and women’s’ empowerment you will hear people saying they are helping women find their voices. I fundamentally disagree with that because women don’t need to find their voices, they need to be empowered to use it and people need to be urged to listen. Right now with so many campaigns like #MeToo and #TimesUp there’s no better time to continue to shine a light on women feeling empowered and people supporting them.”

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Levity came from the four being asked about the reality of working together as family, and whether disagreements ever arose from differing opinions. In short, the answer is “yes.” More from Rebecca English’s video below:

In breaks through the event, the four royals mingled with attendees and were in the audience when other speakers took to the stage.

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Today’s program did a great job of illustrating the royals’ unique role in their work and their vision for the future. I think in the last few years we’ve seen a lot of disparate thoughts and ideas begin to solidify, but I think the next couple of years are going to be defined by a lot of these variables clicking into place. They are definitely poised for success and I think the addition of Meghan will be critical to that.

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As for fashion (lest we forget!), Kate recycled a blue Seraphine dress that she first debuted last month, while Meghan wore a navy Jason Wu wrap dress. It was the first time we’ve seen Meghan wear a dress for an engagement, but it fit her favored silhouette. Her shoes were Aquazzura.

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In short, I deem today a smashing success, though I do think it’ll be rare for us to get all four these guys in one place on a regular basis. I am, however, looking forward to seeing Kate and Meghan team up for an engagement someday – that will make for the quite the internet-breaking moment(!)

We’re meant to see Kate later today when she attends a National Portrait Gallery exhibit, so there will likely be a second post later today. See you then.

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