As a former actress, Meghan Markle is used to thinking quickly on her feet, and today was no exception.

Smiling and shaking hands with rest home residents, the Duchess of Sussex was jokingly told "you're such a fat lady" by pensioner Peggy McEachrom, who noted her baby bump.

A composed Meghan was perfectly gracious in response, laughing and replying: "I'll take it."

The 37-year-old was meeting residents who have all been helped by dog charity Mayhew, of which she was made Patron of last week. Today marked her first visit in her new role.

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The Duchess of Sussex cradled her baby bump as she arrived at Mayhew on Wednesday to meet staff, volunteers and beneficiaries, and hear more about what the animal welfare charity projects.

Meghan will work with the organisation to raise awareness for the work they do to improve the lives of animals and people in London.

She paired a beige Armani coat with a matching dress by H&M's maternity line, Mama, slingback Manolo Blahniks and a Stella McCartney tote bag.

As well as meeting people the dogs had helped, she took the time to pat and cuddle several of the animals as well.

She especially took a shining to a Jack Russell cross, Mini, who is being put up for adoption today.

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Meghan was heard to say "we can't take another dog before the baby as our hands are too full". She predicted Minnie would be snapped up a soon as her profile went up on the Mayhew website.

The work Mayhew does includes animal therapy visits, work with homeless people and their pets, animal welfare schemes such as the Trap, Neuter and Return program, and international projects including dog rabies vaccinations in Kabul. Meghan spent time touring the facilities, meeting members of the community and animals who have benefited directly from the work of the charity.

Established in 1886, Mayhew looks for innovative ways to reduce the number of animals in need through proactive community and educational initiatives and preventive veterinary care. This includes working with homelessness charities across London to ensure people and their animal companions can remain together; running a Pet Refuge program to provide shelter and care for the pets of people in crisis; and educating young people about animal welfare and the importance of responsible pet ownership.

It's a busy day for Meghan, who will attend a premiere of Cirque du Soleil's Totem tonight (local time) with Prince Harry in Support of Sentebale at the Royal Albert Hall.

The evening will raise awareness and funds for Sentebale's work with children and young people affected by HIV.

Earlier this week, Meghan revealed she was six months' pregnant and her baby was due at the end of April, or in early May.

The Duchess of Sussex thrilled crowds in the English town of Birkenhead overnight as she joined husband Prince Harry on their first official outing for 2019.

The former Suits star was overheard sharing her due date with a member of the public — something that has not been known until now.

"We asked her how her pregnancy was going and she said she was six months and she tapped her tummy," a royal fan named Carla Gand, who was there with her four-year-old daughter Sofia said.

The Duchess told other wellwishers gathered in the town's Hamilton Square that she is due in late April or the start of May.

She also revealed they didn't know if the baby was a boy or girl because she and Harry wanted it to be a surprise.