The Duchess of Sussex broke cover from her $14million palatial hideaway to visit a women’s shelter in Canada’s poorest neighborhood to ‘boost the staff’s spirits’ in her first public appearance since leaving the UK.
Meghan was seen leaving the Vancouver Island ocean-side mansion where she has been holed up for the past week at 10am on Tuesday.
She then made her way to Victoria Harbour Airport around 20 minutes later, where she appeared happy and relaxed before boarding a sea plane.
Meghan then made a surprise visit to the Downtown Eastside Women’s Center in Vancouver to ‘offer support’ and to ‘boost the staff’s spirits’.
A staff member told DailyMail.com they only became aware of the visit when Meghan arrived and that she spent time meeting with managers.
The Duchess is understood to have visited the center’s shelter as well as its drop-in center. It provides counselling, hot meals, and basic needs for women and children in need.
‘She asked what the women would need in terms of support. It was a nice meeting,’ the staff member said.
It’s not clear whether the Duchess is planning a long-running association with the center.
According to a Facebook post by the registered charity, the Duchess also had tea with volunteers and managers at the shelter.
The women’s shelter is situated in one of the poorest neighborhoods in Canada on Vancouver’s Eastside and helps people with addictions, mental illness, domestic violence and homelessness.
It has been in the area since 1978 working to help to improve health, employment and housing opportunities for vulnerable members of the community that is considered ‘as ground zero for violence against Indigenous women and girls’.
The neighborhood is the epicenter of the country’s drug overdose crisis that has claimed more that 13,000 lives since January 2016.
According to local publication, straight.com, the Duchess popped by to ‘boost the staff’s spirits’.
She was pictured alongside eight women in the shelter’s kitchen of the emergency shelter, which helps over 500 women, children and seniors each day.
The center provides counselling, hot meal, free clothing, and basic needs for women and children in need, such as first aid, feminine hygiene products and toiletries.
On its website the shelter states one of its goals is to ‘bring awareness of poverty and violence issues to the general public and to the government’.
Kate Gibson, the center’s acting director, told CBC News that Meghan spent more than an hour with frontline staff, and asked about their work and how to improve safety for their clients in the Downtown Eastside.
She said: ‘She was just casual and lovely. She just wants to get to know the community.
‘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.’
The shelter posted a photograph on its Facebook page of Meghan at the center of the group of women, with the caption ‘Look who we had tea with today!
‘The Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle, visited us today to discuss issues affecting women in the community.’
A staff member said: ‘She asked what the women would need in terms of support. It was a nice meeting.’
When Meghan was filming Suits and lived in Toronto from 2011 to 2017, she volunteered at the St. Felix Centre that offers shelter and a food-program.
According to the St. Felix Centre Instagram account, Meghan was an active volunteer in the kitchen and provided a meal for 100 people during one Thanksgiving.
Meghan has been holed up in Mille Fleurs since Friday after leaving husband Prince Harry in Britain to work out the terms for the couple quitting as senior members of the Royal Family.
She was expected to phone into discussions between Harry, the Queen, Prince Charles and Prince William on Monday but in the end left it all to her husband to finalize the details.
Harry is due to fly back to Canada – where the couple stayed for six weeks in December and the New Year — later this week when the couple will start out on their new life.
His last royal duty will be to appear at the draw for the Rugby League World Cup at Buckingham Palace on Thursday.
The Duchess of Sussex today denied she was barred from ‘dialing in’ to the landmark Sandringham summit from Canada as senior royals discussed her stepping down from the Royal Family with Prince Harry.
The couple’s Kensington Palace spokesman insisted Meghan was not shut out of the discussion and just left it to her husband, saying: ‘In the end, the Sussexes decided that it wasn’t necessary for the Duchess to join’.
It comes as the Sussex team continues to negotiate an abdication deal on money, titles and establishing their international commercial brand.
Meanwhile it was also revealed that the Queen allowed Harry and Meghan to quit as senior Royals following a private heart-to-heart with her grandson at yesterday’s crisis summit.
After a family meeting at Sandringham, Her Majesty released a historic and emotionally-charged statement regretting the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s decision to split their time between Canada and the UK as they wind down their Royal duties.