Meghan Markle will become a Royal Patron of the National Theatre, taking over from the Queen, it has been confirmed this morning.
The patronage is one of four organisations the Duchess has chosen including The Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU), which has also been passed on from the Queen.
The Queen held the roles for 45 and 33 years respectively.
The other two organisations are charities Smart Works and Mayhew, with Meghan paying a visit to the former today.
Kensington Palace said in a statement the Duchess "held meetings and conducted private visits with each of these organisations… over the next few weeks will undertake public visits to the other three organisations."
The new role with the National Theatre was accidentally leaked in a gaffe yesterday when a message on the National Theatre’s main ‘what’s on’ page, stated: “The Duchess of Sussex announced as our new Royal Patron”.
The Duchess of Sussex is reported to have met the Queen for tea to discuss the new role at the end of last year, amid claims the monarch is looking to reduce her workload after turning 92 last year.
Rufus Norris, Director of the National Theatre said: “I would like to thank The Queen for Her Majesty’s long and unwavering support and service to the National Theatre.
"We were honoured when The Queen became our Patron in 1974 and have celebrated many moments together including, in recent years, the Diamond Jubilee and the marking of our 50th anniversary.
"It is a privilege to welcome The Duchess of Sussex as our new Patron. The Duchess shares our deeply-held conviction that theatre has the power to bring together people from all communities and walks of life.
"I very much look forward to working closely with Her Royal Highness in the years to come”.
Why the National Theatre means so much to Meghan
The Duchess studied theatre at university before landing a series of acting roles.
Her big break came with legal drama Suits, which she starred in for seven years before she married Prince Harry and became a working royal.
There have been rumours she could revive her role for a one-off special with the money going to charity.
Meghan is a big theatre lover, and joined Prince Harry for a charity performance of Hamilton at London’s Victoria Palace Theatre last year.
The Mail on Sunday reports that one of Meghan’s tasks will be to strengthen connections between the theatre and American benefactors Bosses hope there will be a certain ‘Meghan dividend’.
Why Meghan is becoming a patron of the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU)
The Duchess is a strong advocate of accessible eduction for all and the ACU, established in 1913, is the world’s first and oldest international university network, with more than 500 member institutions in over 50 countries.
During her recent visit to Fiji, the Duchess announced new Gender Grants for ACU member universities in the Pacific to fund new learning initiatives aimed at empowering female university staff and promoting gender equality.
Dr Joanna Newman MBE, Chief Executive and Secretary General of the ACU, said: “We are absolutely delighted that HRH The Duchess of Sussex has chosen to become Patron of the ACU.
"The Duchess shares our passion for the transformational power of higher education, and Her Royal Highness’ support will help champion higher education as a force for good in the Commonwealth and beyond.
"We would like to thank Her Majesty The Queen for her support, and we look forward to working closely with The Duchess as our Patron.”
Smart Works is charity which supports women – something Meghan is passionate about
Created in September 2013, Smart Works helps long-term unemployed and vulnerable women regain the confidence they need to get jobs, succeed at job interviews, return to employment and transform their lives.
Half its clients are from an ethnic minority.
Thanks to the charity’s support, 60% go on to get a job following their visit to Smart Works.
The Duchess has a longstanding track record of working in the space of women’s empowerment both in her local community as well as abroad.
In recent years, Her Royal Highness has travelled to India and Rwanda working on projects to mobilise women in challenging or marginalized situations to see their full potential.
Juliet Hughes-Hallett, Chair and Founder of Smart Works said: “We are thrilled to announce that The Duchess of Sussex will become the Royal Patron of Smart Works.
"An acknowledged champion of women and their rights worldwide, The Duchess will motivate ever more women to come to our centres and get the job that will transform their lives.
"The Duchess’s patronage will inspire the women we serve and help them reach for the stars.”
Why Mayhew is the right charity for the Duchess of Sussex to be patron for
Caroline Yates, CEO of Mayhew said: “We are so excited that HRH The Duchess of Sussex has chosen to be our Patron. Mayhew works to improve the lives of dogs, cats and the people in our community, tackling the root cause of animal abandonment and neglect and supporting vulnerable people to stay with their companion pets.
"The Duchess has spent many years championing animal welfare, and we are honoured to have our charity represented by such a passionate Patron.
"We look forward to working closely with The Duchess and hope that, together, we can help even more animals and people.”
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