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Meghan Markle makes first video appearance after Lilibet's birth to mark 40th birthday

The Duchess of Sussex has launched the 40x40 initiative on her milestone birthday

Danielle Stacey

The Duchess of Sussex launched a new women's work initiative to coincide with her 40th birthday on Wednesday. Meghan has launched 40×40, a global project to encourage people around the world to commit to giving 40 minutes of their time to support women going back to work.

She has asked 40 activists, athletes, artists and world leaders to participate by contributing 40 minutes of mentorship to women re-entering the workforce.

The Duchess appeared in a fun new video with Melissa McCarthy to talk about the initiative, while Meghan's pet dog, Guy, snoozed at her feet. 

READ: The Queen shares sweet message for Meghan Markle on her 40th birthday

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WATCH: Meghan Markle launches 40x40 initiative on her milestone birthday

Prince Harry also made a cameo appearance in a blooper reel at the end of Meghan's video call with Melissa. The Duchess laughed as the Duke could be seen juggling outside the window. 

And in a touching nod to her children, Meghan donned necklaces depicting their starsigns, with a Taurus for Archie and Gemini for baby Lili, from Logan Hollowell

To mark her milestone birthday, the Duchess also blew out a candle on a fruit covered cake with buttercream icing. 

In a personal post on Archewell's website, Meghan wrote: "In reflecting on my 40th birthday and the many things I am grateful for, I'm struck that TIME IS AMONG OUR GREATEST AND MOST ESSENTIAL GIFTS: Time with our loved ones, time doing the things we love, time spent learning, laughing, growing, and the sacred time we have on this earth. Amongst the most valuable gifts of time is also time spent in service to others knowing that it can contribute to incredible change. To that last point, and with my 40th lap around the sun in mind, it made me wonder: what would happen if we all committed 40 minutes to helping someone else or to mentoring someone in need? And then what would happen if we asked our friends to do the same?"

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Prince Harry made a hilarious cameo in the clip

She continued: "In the past two years, and in large part because of the COVID-19 pandemic, TENS OF MILLIONS OF women around the world have left the workforce, including over two million women in the U.S. So many of these women are also SHOULDERING THE BRUNT OF THE CRISIS when it comes to unpaid labor, including schooling and caring for family members. And the latest research shows that FEWER WOMEN THAN MEN WILL REGAIN WORK as we recover from the pandemic.

"I believe mentorship is one way to help women regain confidence and rebuild their economic strength, and for my birthday, I have asked 40 friends, activists, athletes, artists, and world leaders to help kickoff a global effort by contributing 40 MINUTES OF MENTORSHIP to support women re-entering the workforce. With this time, I hope they each help someone advance a professional life on her own terms, and, I hope that they inspire countless others to give 40 minutes of their time as well.

"If you are able, please JOIN US and pledge 40 minutes today in service of others in the way that feels right to you. The time that you donate can contribute to a GLOBAL WAVE OF SERVICE and set in motion meaningful impact in our own communities, and across the world."

Among those who have committed 40 minutes of their time to mentor a woman in their community are singer Adele, poet Amanda Gorman, Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, the wife of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and fashion designer Stella McCartney.

MORE: Prince William and Kate send Meghan Markle birthday wishes

MORE: Prince Charles and Camilla mark Meghan Markle's milestone birthday with touching photo

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Meghan is asking people to pledge 40 minutes of their time

The exciting new project for Meghan comes 18 months after she and her husband Prince Harry stepped back from royal duties in March 2020.

The Sussexes now live in Montecito, Santa Barbara, with their children, Archie, two, and two-month-old Lilibet.

In that time, Harry and Meghan have launched their non-profit organisation, Archewell, and have hired several new members to their team.

They've also signed a deal with Netflix to produce content, as well as a partnership with Spotify for their Archewell Audio podcast.

The Duchess penned her debut children's book, The Bench, which was released shortly after Lili's birth.

The Duke will also pen his own tell-all memoir and has promised to write an "accurate and wholly truthful" account of his life. The book is anticipated to be released in late 2022.

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Harry and Meghan married in 2018

Meghan, who was born in Los Angeles on 4 August 1981, began dating Prince Harry in 2016 after being introduced in London by a mutual friend.

The pair announced their engagement in November 2017 and tied the knot the following May in a stunning ceremony that was watched by 11.5 million viewers around the world.

Harry and Meghan became parents to baby Archie in May 2019, who joined them on their royal tour of Africa when he was just four months old.

In January 2020, the Sussexes shocked the world when they announced their decision to step back as senior royals and carried out their final engagements in the UK.

They temporarily resided in Canada before moving to Tyler Perry's Beverly Hills home. Harry and Meghan then bought their first family home in Montecito last July, but still retain their Frogmore Cottage residence in Windsor, which is currently being used by Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank.

On Valentine's Day earlier this year, the couple announced they were expecting another baby, after Meghan confirmed that she had suffered a miscarriage the previous summer in a heartbreaking essay for the New York Times.

Baby Lilibet Diana Mountbatten-Windsor was born on 4 June 2021 at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, named in honour of the Queen's family nickname and Harry's late mother, Diana, Princess of Wales.

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