With a flat cap pulled down over her head, her hair covering her face and wrapped up against the New York cold in a black overcoat, the Duchess of Sussex might well have slipped in and out of the Big Apple unnoticed – had it not been for one pesky photographer.
Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, arrives for her baby shower at the Mark Hotel on Tuesday, February 19, 2019, in New York. Credit:AP
In choosing to take the eight-hour transatlantic flight at seven months pregnant, free-spirited Meghan's last hurrah with her friends before she becomes a mother serves as yet another reminder that the 37-year-old royal is determined to do things her own way.
According to sources close to the former actress, this five-day trip is a reflection not only of her desire to maintain her US ties, but also how much she is enjoying her first pregnancy.
A palace insider told the Telegraph: "She has sought medical advice throughout, but she's felt well enough to keep carrying out engagements and undertaking overseas travel. By all accounts, she's been having a lovely time in New York, which is the last chance she will get to see some of her friends before the baby is born."
Meghan flew to New York on Friday and was photographed incognito, being escorted into an SUV in the city on Monday. Carrying a second wide-brimmed black hat in her hand, along with a white bag, while her bodyguard carried a Lululemon tote, Meghan may have gone unnoticed, were it not for her sparkling diamond engagement ring catching the eye of a paparazzi.
Marking her first visit to New York since she married Prince Harry last May, she joined her closest friend Jessica Mulroney for macarons and tea at Ladurée in SoHo on Saturday before a baby shower at The Mark Hotel on the Upper East Side yesterday. Around 15 to 20 guests are thought to have attended, orchestrated by stylist Mulroney, who arrived in the city last week from her home in Toronto.
Meghan was met with hordes of photographers once her cover was blown.Credit:AP
A Kensington Palace spokesman would not divulge any details, but confirmed that, as it was a private trip, it was privately funded.
The trip comes ahead of a four-hour flight to Morocco this weekend, where the royal couple will spend a night in Casablanca before two days of engagements in Asni, in the heart of the Atlas Mountains, and Rabat. Kensington Palace indicated that a doctor will be travelling with the party, saying: "Medical provision has been taken into account."
The trip, scheduled at the last-minute after a regional engagement fell through, took royal watchers by surprise – as has the New York outing, even though it is thought to have been planned for months.
Yet suggestions the Duchess is only having a baby shower because it is a US tradition appear wide of the mark, however. While the trend of celebrating a new arrival may appear to have originated across the pond, in Britain it dates back to the reign of Queen Victoria.
Victorian women would keep their pregnancies secret, upholding cultural standards of proper behaviour. But after the baby was born, other women would hold tea parties for the new mother. Gifts were handmade, but the grandmother would give silver.
And, contrary to reports, it is not a new phenomenon in royal circles either. The Duchess of Cambridge's sister, Pippa Middleton, threw her a baby shower before she gave birth to her eldest child, Prince George, in 2013. Kate was reported to have had the Queen's "blessing" for the event at her parents' Bucklebury home after weeks of organisation by her sister and a professional party planner.
The celebrations included a dummy-shaped cake made by their brother, James, then a baker, with goody bags with gifts from stores Jo Malone and The White Company.
The source at the time described Kate as modern woman wanting "a normal life", adding: "Prince Harry, Kate and William are the Royal family's link to the younger generation. A baby shower wouldn't normally happen if you're in the Royal family, but there is now a modern way of thinking."
Yesterday, Kensington Palace refused to comment on what it described as a "private event", but an aide pointed out that the Duchess of Sussex was hardly the first modern royal to have a baby shower, saying: "It's not something that's frowned upon, nor is it an Americanisation."
Meghan is understood to have been joined by her former Suits co-star Abigail Spencer, who took to Instagram Stories to reveal she was travelling on Monday.
"On the road again," she captioned the Instagram selfie. Meghan's close friend Priyanka Chopra spent Valentine's Day in London amid speculation they travelled to New York City together the next day.
Other members of Meghan's inner circle thought to have attended include another Suits co-star, Sarah Rafferty, her long-time Northwestern University friend Lindsay Roth and Benita Litt, whose daughters Rylan, 7, and Remi, 6, are Meghan's godchildren and were flower girls at her wedding. Tennis legend Serena Williams and designer Misha Nonoo were also understood to have been on the guest list.
The reunion comes after five of the Duchess's closest friends gave interviews to US magazine People revealing that she had written to her father begging him to stop "victimising" her after the royal wedding.
Confronting what they described as the "global bullying" of the Duchess, they shared intimate details of their visits to Kensington Palace to relay the "truth" about her.
Saying the Duchess has "silently sat back and endured the lies and untruths" since she joined the Royal family, they called her "selfless", devoted to God, and able to "make a five-star meal out of the garbage in your refrigerator".
Thomas Markle, her father, then retaliated by leaking the letter to the press and claiming his daughter had changed her number, leaving him unable to contact her.
She has also spoken on a number of occasions about her love for New York City and its many restaurants, bars, hotels and shops. And it might not be too long before she gets to try a dirty martini at her West Village favourite, Fedora.
Having had to postpone a rumoured official visit to the US following the pregnancy announcement, the Duke and Duchess may well be poised to take America by storm later this year… with a royal baby in tow.
The Telegraph, London
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