meghan-markle-africa

Meghan Markle all smiles as she is pictured for the first time since leaving the UK

Prince Harry's wife paid a visit to a women's shelter in one of Canada's poorest neighbourhood

Gemma Strong

Meghan Markle has been seen in public for the first time since leaving the UK. The wife of Prince Harry was spotted leaving the $14million Canadian home where she has been reportedly staying with son Archie, arriving some 20 minutes later at Victoria Harbour Airport where she appeared in good spirits as she waited to board a seaplane back to the mainland. She then paid a surprise visit to the Downtown Eastside Women's Centre in Vancouver, where she posed for a photo with a group of eight women. A picture shared on the centre’s official Facebook page shows Meghan dressed casually in a cream jumper, blue jeans and brown boots. The caption reads: "Look who we had tea with today! The Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle, visited us today to discuss issues affecting women in the community."

meghan-markle-womens-shelter

A photo of Meghan was shared on the shelter's official Facebook page

The shelter provides hot meals, counselling and basic needs for women and children. A staff member told the Daily Mail that they only became aware of the visit when Meghan arrived, and that she had spent time meeting with managers: "She asked what the women would need in terms of support. It was a nice meeting."

MORE: Prince Harry touts Meghan Markle's voiceover skills to Disney boss: VIDEO

It has been revealed that Meghan did not take part in the Sandringham summit on Monday to discuss her and Prince Harry’s future roles. It was thought that the 38-year-old would dial into the meeting with her husband, the Queen, the Prince of Wales and the Duke of Cambridge on Monday. But a palace source told HELLO!: "The Sussexes decided that it wasn’t necessary for The Duchess to join."

Harry and Meghan: A timeline

Harry, Meghan and Archie spent their six-week break in Canada during the festive period, with Meghan only returning to London to attend meetings and carry out an engagement at Canada House last Tuesday. Harry, who has stayed in the UK, travelled to Sandringham from the couple's Windsor home, Frogmore Cottage.

MORE: Prince William and Prince Harry's best brother moments - see photos

Fans might be wondering why Prince Harry, 35, has not yet flown to Canada following the summit. The reason why the Duke has remained in the UK is because he has an engagement to attend on Thursday 16 January. Harry will host the Rugby League World Cup 2021 draws for the men's, women’s and wheelchair tournaments at Buckingham Palace, which will be streamed live across the royal family and Rugby League World Cup 2021's social media channels. The Duke was announced as Patron of the Rugby Football League in December 2016, succeeding the Queen, who previously held the role for 64 years.

meghan-markle-prince-harry

The couple spent the festive period in Canada with their son Archie

Buckingham Palace released a statement from the Queen on Monday evening, following discussions about Harry and Meghan's future. It read: "Today my family had very constructive discussions on the future of my grandson and his family. My family and I are entirely supportive of Harry and Meghan's desire to create a new life as a young family. Although we would have preferred them to remain full-time working Members of the Royal Family, we respect and understand their wish to live a more independent life as a family while remaining a valued part of my family.

"Harry and Meghan have made clear that they do not want to be reliant on public funds in their new lives. It has therefore been agreed that there will be a period of transition in which the Sussexes will spend time in Canada and the UK. These are complex matters for my family to resolve, and there is some more work to be done, but I have asked for final decisions to be reached in the coming days."