When it was first reported that the Duchess of Sussex would host a meal consisting of recipes from the new Hubb Community Kitchen cookbook, I had images of everyone sitting down in some formal Kensington Palace dining room. I’m not sure how I thought those logistics would work, but I definitely didn’t realize it would be held outside under a tent!
But it was lovely and, even more, it represents Meghan’s first solo engagement, just four months after her wedding. Pretty impressive. While the Duke of Sussex was on hand, he was only there to support (and eat). And in a lovely surprise, Meghan’s mother, Doria Ragland, attended. She was spotted flying into London a few days ago, but no one was expecting her to make an appearance in such an official capacity.
Not only did Meghan carry the show today, but she also delivered her first remarks. In true MM fashion, they were candid, sweet and flawlessly presented without note cards. Would we expect anything else?
I’ve always thought highly of Meghan and believed she would quickly find her footing. Even so, I’m incredibly impressed by this project, from the fact she was making under-the-radar trips to meet the Grenfell Tower victims to her identifying and driving such a smart and marketable project to fruition. This is modern royalty done well.
As royal reporter Chris Ship notes above, it’s worth noting the level of diversity on display today, which you don’t always get with royal engagements. But Britain, particularly London, is incredibly diverse – a point articulated well by the Duchess during her speech:
“Working on this project for the past nine months has been a tremendous labor of love. I had just recently moved to London and I felt so immediately embraced by the women in the kitchen – your warmth, your kindness, and also to be able to be in this city and to see in this one small room how multi-cultural it was. On a personal level, I feel so proud to live in a city that can have so much diversity. That’s 12 countries represented in this one group of women, it’s pretty outstanding.”
It was later noted that the idea for the cookbook came after Meghan first visited the Hubb Community Kitchen and was told the facility was only open two days a week due to a lack of funds. I have a feeling they’re going to be in better shape from here on out.
Reporters on site for this event appear to have been delighted by it, equal parts impressed by Meghan and amused by Harry. By that, I mean this:
While all eyes were rightfully on Meghan, I actually found Harry and Doria equally as poignant today. Their look of pride as they watched her speak to her guests was touching.
Since it’s already started percolating on social media and in snippier news article, no, it’s not a big deal that Doria attended today. It’s neither unprecedented nor remarkable, but rather a nice personal touch in the way anyone’s parents might support a major professional moment in their child’s life. If one would like a Middleton comparison, then I would point to the Duchess of Cambridge’s parents and siblings participating in the public spectacle that marked the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012. Below, a snippet shared by royal reporter Rebecca English:
And per The Telegraph:
After a short speech, the Royal couple and Ms Ragland sat down to enjoy a spread of dishes including coconut chicken curry, aubergine masala and caramelised plum upside-down cake.
Then then posed for a group photo with the ladies of the kitchen and their children before staying to chat. Ms Ragland embraced each of the women in turn, telling them: “It’s amazing. I’m just as excited as you are.”
Of her pleasure at meeting contributors, she added: “I’m so glad I can put the face with the recipes. I’m going to tell everyone, I met her! I’m going to make everything, I’m serious.”
Standing with a small group of Hubb kitchen cooks as she said goodbye, she also gave an insight into where the Duchess’ own beliefs have come from.
“The power of women,” she told them. “We make things happen. We’re curious, we say yes, we show up. “I’m inspired.”
Anyway, today was a major success in my book and a sign of good things to come. The rapport and informality that Harry and Meghan consistently deliver make me think we’re in for an eventful and engaging overseas tour next month. At least, that’s my guess if this video is anything to go on:
Finally, fashion: Meghan wore a black Tuxe body suit underneath a black skirt by Misha Nonoo, both brands that she’s worn to public engagements in the past. Over the ensemble, she donned a blue Smythe coat, which was rounded by a pair of black Sarah Flint heels.
And with that, I will call it a day. We’ll move back to history over the weekend, while next will prove to be a busy one between engagements for the Sussexes on Monday and Tuesday and then the Duke of Cambridge’s working visit to three African countries.