Meghan Markle pictured as guest speaker at ‘power of women’ charity event

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New photos have emerged of Meghan Markle co-hosting a ‘power of women’ charity benefit as William and Kate head to the US for their first trip in eight years – and hours after the Royal palace made attempts to stave off new allegations of racism. 

The Duchess of Sussex, 41, jetted into the Midwest from California to be interviewed on-stage in the event billed ‘The Power of Women: An Evening with Meghan’. 

The ‘moderated discussion’ took place alongside Rabbi Sandy Sasso – the first woman ordained by the Reconstructionist Judaism movement at the Marriott Downtown Hotel in Indianapolis. 

While guests were banned from taking any pictures, Meghan’s friend Omid Scobie shared several snaps from the crowd to Twitter this evening – in what some have labelled a strategic PR move in the wake of Buckingham Palace‘s racism debacle, which is threatening to overshadow the Prince and Princess’ of Wales tour of the United States. 

Meghan wore a green dress with a keyhole cutout at the neckline and purple peep toe heels to match the backdrop as she sat opposite Ms Sasso, who was wearing a grey power suit. 

He wrote: ‘Last night, Duchess Meghan took part in a moderated discussion focused on women’s empowerment and supporting young girls.’

As William and Kate today made their way to the US for their first trip in eight years, William’s godmother Lady Susan Hussey stepped down from the royal household after she allegedly refused to believe a black domestic abuse campaigner was British and asked her: ‘What part of Africa are you from?’

Pictures of Meghan Markle show her beaming as she was celebrated as the guest of honor at a ‘power of women’ charity benefit last night

While guests were banned from taking any pictures of the evening, Meghan's friend Omid Scobie shared several snaps from the crowd to Twitter this evening

While guests were banned from taking any pictures of the evening, Meghan’s friend Omid Scobie shared several snaps from the crowd to Twitter this evening

The incident has been labelled a ‘PR disaster’ and there are now suggestions Meghan and Harry could look to capitalise on any backlash.

Publicist Mark Borkowski said the comments, which were made at a reception organised by Queen Consort Camilla, would serve as ‘ammunition’ for Meghan and Harry – who today released a polished trailer for the Invictus Games on the same day William and Kate began their US visit.

Mr Borkowski told MailOnline: ‘This is a PR disaster for the Royal Family and it is going to cause huge problems, especially at the start of William and Kate’s US trip which will be dominated by a new racism row. They are flying into a perfect storm.’ 

Meghan’s benefit was hosted by the Women’s Fund of Central Indiana,  a non-profit which assists local woman experiencing hardship or disadvantage. 

Prior keynote speakers at Women’s Fund benefits include former first lady Michelle Obama, who drew a crowd of more than 12,000 people at the home arena of the Indiana Pacers in 2018, according to organizers.

Tickets for the event cost a whopping $500 per head, while entire tables cost $5,000.

Mr Scobie’s post attracted dozens of comments from fans, some of whom claim to have been in attendance to witness the ‘uplifting’ discussion.

‘It was amazing and an honor… she is kind genuine and intelligent. A blessing to se her,’ one person said.

Meghan wore a green dress with a keyhole cutout at the neckline and purple peep toe heels to match the backdrop as she sat opposite Ms Sasso, who was wearing a grey power suit

Meghan wore a green dress with a keyhole cutout at the neckline and purple peep toe heels to match the backdrop as she sat opposite Ms Sasso, who was wearing a grey power suit

Tickets for the event cost a whopping $500 per head, while entire tables cost $5,000

Tickets for the event cost a whopping $500 per head, while entire tables cost $5,000 

Meghan was the main speaker and guest of honour at the event in the Midwest

Meghan was the main speaker and guest of honour at the event in the Midwest

Another added: ‘Heard from squaddies at the event that it was an amazing uplifting discussion. Tons of great energy and she looked gorgeous as always.’

It is not known how much Meghan will have been paid for the appearance, if at all, however PR experts believe she could earn up to £1million per speech in the US.

The Indiana event drew supporters from across the state, and perhaps even further, with one group traveling from Ivy Tech Community College in Lawrenceburg, about 100 miles southeast of Indianapolis.

‘A strong team of @IvyLburgBville women philanthropists traveled to Indianapolis to attend the Power of Women event,’ the school tweeted. ‘Remarkable event this evening!’

Attendance figures for Tuesday’s event were not immediately clear, but the largest ballroom at the Indianapolis Marriott has a maximum capacity of 2,500. 

Meghan, who is currently living in California with Prince Harry after quitting royal duties, was seen leaving the event dressed warmly in a black button-down coat

Cameras and press were banned from the charity dinner, and few details of Meghan's remarks have emerged

Meghan, who is currently living in California with Prince Harry after quitting royal duties, was seen leaving the event dressed warmly in a black button-down coat

The Women's Fund website said that it aims 'to be the most influential organization creating transformative and sustainable change for women and girls'

The Women’s Fund website said that it aims ‘to be the most influential organization creating transformative and sustainable change for women and girls’

The Prince and Princess of Wales have been warned they 'risk being overshadowed' during their trip to America by 83-year-old Lady Susan's comments - and that Meghan and Harry could 'capitalise' on public backlash

The Prince and Princess of Wales have been warned they ‘risk being overshadowed’ during their trip to America by 83-year-old Lady Susan’s comments – and that Meghan and Harry could ‘capitalise’ on public backlash

Who is Sandy Sasso? 

Sandy Eisenberg Sasso is the first woman to have been ordained a rabbi in Reconstructionist Judaism.

She was ordained by the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in Philadelphia, on May 19, 1974. 

As one of the few women rabbinical students, Sasso naturally became a leader in defining women’s changing roles within Judaism.

 Sasso holds title to many firsts as a female rabbi. 

She is also the author of many children’s books on religious topics.

The Women’s Fund website said that it aims ‘to be the most influential organization creating transformative and sustainable change for women and girls.’ 

The fund this year gave grants totaling $150,000 to 12 groups engaged in education, mental health, and career mentoring services for women and girls, according to the website.

The online description for the event said: ‘Women’s Fund is proud to welcome Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex, to Indianapolis.

‘The Duchess is a mother, feminist, and champion of human rights. She is a lifelong advocate for women and girls, a constant thread she weaves through humanitarian and business ventures.

‘Rabbi Sandy Sasso, an acclaimed writer and community leader, will serve as moderator for the evening. 

‘Tables for Power of Women are available for purchase to groups and organizations that support the mission of Women’s Fund.’

Meanwhile, William and Kate have been warned they ‘risk being overshadowed’ during their trip to America by 83-year-old Lady Susan’s comments.

‘The whole point of William and Kate’s trip has been put into jeopardy by someone’s really terrible remarks at an event which – incredibly ironically – was meant to be all about inclusivity,’ he told MailOnline.

‘It will perpetuate the flame that was lit by Meghan when she accused members of the royal household of making racist comments – the impact could be really quite catastrophic.’

Mr Ede said the scandal was particularly damaging due to it coinciding with a period of intense publicity for Meghan and Harry, who are set to be handed the Robert F. Kennedy Ripple of Hope Award next month for speaking about alleged racism in the Royal Family.

He continued: ‘One of the reasons Meghan was given an award by the Kennedys was for standing up to ”racism” in the Royal Family. So this story coming out is a win for Meghan and Harry.’

Royal author Richard Fitzwilliams told MailOnline: ‘These comments will go worldwide and they will be symbolic of precisely the attitudes the Sussexes claimed they had to fight.

‘There is no doubt that aspects of royal life need reform, this is illustrated by Lady Susan’s behaviour. However, the British monarchy knows how to employ soft power and does change.’  

Buckingham Palace said it took the incident, at the Queen Consort’s reception on violence against women on Tuesday, ‘extremely seriously’ and had investigated immediately.

A spokesman said: ‘We take this incident extremely seriously and have investigated immediately to establish the full details. In this instance, unacceptable and deeply regrettable comments have been made. We have reached out to Ngozi Fulani on this matter, and are inviting her to discuss all elements of her experience in person if she wishes.

‘In the meantime, the individual concerned would like to express her profound apologies for the hurt caused and has stepped aside from her honorary role with immediate effect. All members of the Household are being reminded of the diversity and inclusivity policies which they are required to uphold at all times.’

The Duchess of Sussex will be interviewed on-stage during the event billed 'The Power of Women: An Evening with Meghan'

The Duchess of Sussex will be interviewed on-stage during the event billed ‘The Power of Women: An Evening with Meghan’

Meghan Markle points as she leaves a 'Power of Women' event in the US last night - where people paid $5,000 per table to hear her speak

Meghan Markle points as she leaves a ‘Power of Women’ event in the US last night – where people paid $5,000 per table to hear her speak

Ngozi Fulani said on Twitter today she had been ‘insulted’ by a palace aide who she accused of asking ‘where she was really from’ when she said she was from Hackney.

The royal aide then allegedly said: ‘No but where do you really come from? Where do your people come from? When did you first come here?’

Ms Fulani claims she then said: ‘Lady! I am a British national, my parents came here in the 50s’, to which the woman replied: ‘I knew we’d get there in the end. You’re Caribbean’. Ms Fulani replied: ‘No lady, I am of African heritage, Caribbean descent and British nationality.’

The Sistah Space founder said this morning: ‘Mixed feelings about yesterday’s visit to Buckingham Palace. 10 mins after arriving, a member of staff approached me, moved my hair to see my name badge. The rest of the event is a blur.’

She said: ‘It was such a shock to me and the other two women that we were stunned to temporary silence. I just stood at the edge of the room, smiled and engaged briefly with who spoke to me until I could leave.

‘Standing there in a room packed with people while this violation was taking place was so strange, especially as the event was about violence against women’.

She added: ‘My children and grandchildren were proud though, in my parent’s time, black people were only allowed in to those spaces to serve. Kind of glad my folks were not around to witness this violation.

‘I let my guard down. Never again. It was such a struggle to stay in a space that you were violated in.

‘I think it is essential to acknowledge that trauma has occurred and being invited and then insulted has caused much damage.’

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry compete in game of table tennis as Duchess makes surprise appearance in Invictus Games trailer 

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry competed in a friendly game of table tennis as the Duchess made a surprise appearance in a trailer for the Invictus Games.

The 80-second video features athletes who will be competing in the upcoming sporting event, which will be held in Dusseldorf in September 2023.

To promote tickets for the opening and closing ceremonies going on sale today, the Invictus Games’ social media team shared the video on Twitter – where it was promptly reposted by Finding Freedom co-writer Omid Scobie.

The moody black-and-white clip opens with a view of an unused table tennis table in an empty stadium.

Highlighting how the sport is being been introduced into the event for the first time next year, the video then showed male, female and disabled players competing in several back-to-back games.

In another cut, Prince Harry smiles lovingly at his opponent before the camera zooms in on Meghan.

The Duchess – who is dressed casually in a dark V-neck jacket and has her hair tied up in a bun – gives her husband a quick nod to indicate that she’s ready for him to play.

Sharing the clip of the couple, Omid Scobie wrote: ‘Harry and Meghan make an appearance in the latest promo video for next year’s Invictus Games.

The Duchess of Sussex appeared right at the end of the video as she competed against her husband. The mother-of-two gave Harry an encouraging smile and nod

The Duchess of Sussex appeared right at the end of the video as she competed against her husband. The mother-of-two gave Harry an encouraging smile and nod

Prince Harry appeared in the new trailer for the Invictus Games today. The Duke of Sussex was filmed playing two games of table tennis

Prince Harry appeared in the new trailer for the Invictus Games today. The Duke of Sussex was filmed playing two games of table tennis

 

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