The Duke and Duchess of Sussex's first royal tour was always going to be a big deal. Their wedding five months ago was a veritable Who's Who of global A-listers and while their job abroad was to practice a little soft diplomacy and serve as a projection of British culture and heritage, it was never going to be totally immune from Hollywood sparkle either. Thousands lined the streets; the young screaming at the smallest glimpse of the newly wed couple while grandmothers, who had witnessed countless royal tours, waited patiently to shake the latest pair of Windsor hands, curious to know what they would discover about the latest glossy addition to the family.
And Meghan didn't disappoint. Not only did we get a showcase of her fabulous new wardrobe, she also didn't attempt to hide her forming bump following the announcement that she and Harry were expecting a baby in the Spring. Far from taking a backseat to her husband on her foreign debut, Meghan took her new role on the global stage and ran with it. And it soon became clear that while her pregnancy announcement was exciting, it won't be the only thing which is going to define her role in royal life.
So from her speeches to her dress code, what else have we learned about the Duchess of Sussex from her first royal tour.
She isn't going to let Harry do all the talking
The Duchess has been making tentative steps into the arena of female empowerment ever since her engagement in November 2017. But on her first overseas tour, she made sure to put the issue — and indeed herself — front and centre. She is, understandably given her acting career, much more comfortable than her sister-in-law when it comes to public speaking, and delivered several impassioned speeches throughout the trip, including one to mark the 125th anniversary of women's suffrage in New Zealand. "The achievements of the women of New Zealand who campaigned for their right to vote, and were the first in the world to achieve it, are universally admired. Because yes – women's suffrage is about feminism, but feminism is about fairness," she said.
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It was in stark contrast to the Duchess of Cambridge, who waited almost 18 months after her wedding to make her first speech on foreign soil, and whose public comments tend to be rather less political. In another speech in Fiji, Meghan spoke of the need for female empowerment in education. "Everyone should be afforded the opportunity to receive the education that they want, but more importantly the education that they have the right to receive, and for women and girls in developing countries this is vital," she said. "Providing them with access to education is the key to economic and social development, because when girls are given the right tools to succeed, they can create incredible futures."
She cares about sustainability
If your lot in life requires that the world scrutinise and have an opinion on your dress sense, then you may as well make a statement with it. At least, that seems to be the Duchess of Sussex's approach to dressing for public life. On her tour of Oceania, Meghan sent subtle messages via the extensive wardrobe packed for the milestone trip, including jeans by Outland Denim, which employs women who have survived human trafficking, and sustainable trainers by eco brand Veja.
And she's not immune to making mistakes
We've all been there. Meghan caused frankly absurd levels of uproar when she stepped off the plane in Tonga wearing a £380 Self Portrait dress with the label still attached to it. Descending the steps of the plane, social media users were quick to point out that the store tag of the dress was still intact. Whilst the Duchess of Cambridge regularly travels with her long-term stylist, Natasha Archer, Meghan has opted to do the New Zealand and Tonga leg of the tour alone, simply liaising with her friend/stylist Jessica Mulroney from afar. Admittedly, she does have rather a large team of aides (even if they aren't actual stylists) around her, one of whom possibly could and should have noticed the tag hanging between her ankles. But, then again, perhaps she was planning on returning it?
You can take the girl out of California… but she's a little bit Goopy
After a barefoot stroll along the beach, the duke and duchess joined surfers from the OneWave group on Bondi Beach to discuss mental health issues. Sitting in an "anti-bad vibes circle" with a group of surfers wearing flower garlands, the couple took part in Fluro Friday — not, as it sounds, a bad student club night, but an event which aims to allow people to open up about their mental health in a safe space.
Meghan also revealed that she was keeping the pregnancy tiredness and jetlag under control with 4:30am yoga sessions. Gwyneth would be so proud.