Meghan Markle Makes First Public Appearance in Photo at Women's Shelter Following Royal Family Exit

Meghan Markle on Tuesday made her first public appearance since announcing that she and husband, Prince Harry would be taking a "step back" from their royal duties. The Duchess of Sussex visited the Downtown Eastside Women's Centre in Vancouver, British Columbia, where she was present to "discuss issues affecting women in the community."

According to Kate Gibson, the center's acting director, Markle "was just casual and lovely."

"She just wants to get to know the community. We know she's going to come to Canada and I think possibly the West Coast," Gibson told CBC News. "I think that she just doesn't want to be sort of a stranger in the midst. She just wants to get to know people."

During her visit, Markle reportedly sipped Tetley tea and spent more than an hour with managers and staff in an effort to learn more about the issues marginalized and vulnerable women face. The duchess also asked about the work the center does and how life could be made safer for women in the neighborhood.

Earlier in the day, Markle boarding a seaplane bound for Vancouver. In images obtained by the Daily Mail, the 38-year-old mom of one appeared happy and relaxed as she arrived at Victoria Harbour Airport and boarded the seaplane.

Markle returned to Canada without Harry, who remained in the United Kingdom to continue discussions with the rest of the British Royal Family, just three days after she and her husband made the announcement that they intend to retire as senior members of the Royal Family. In their announcement, the couple wrote that they would split their time between the UK and North America, with many believing that the couple plans to settle down with son Archie in Canada, where they spent the holidays.

"After many months of reflection and internal discussions, we have chosen to make a transition this year in starting to carve out a progressive new role within this institution," they wrote on Instagram. "We intend to step back as 'senior' members of the Royal Family and work to become financially independent, while continuing to fully support Her Majesty The Queen. It is with your encouragement, particularly over the last few years, that we feel prepared to make this adjustment."


"We now plan to balance our time between the United Kingdom and North America, continuing to honour our duty to The Queen, the Commonwealth, and our patronages," the announcement continued. "This geographic balance will enable us to raise our son with an appreciation for the royal tradition into which he was born, while also providing our family with the space to focus on the next chapter, including the launch of our new charitable entity."

Markle's Tuesday appearance marked her first since the announcement. According to Gibson, the outing was set up after she received a "somewhat mysterious" email from an account that turned out to belong to the royal's assistant. Markle, who throughout her time as a royal has been an advocate for women, was reportedly interested in visiting Vancouver-based organizations that serve women.