Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton are united in their work on mental health issues – despite their disagreements
- Both the Duchess of Sussex and the Princess of Wales have for years nurtured mental health campaigns
- READ MORE: Meghan Markle dons letterman jacket gifted to her at her last solo royal engagement
The Princess of Wales and Duchess of Sussex are not known for their warm relationship with one another.
The royal wives were once a ‘Fab Four’ with their husbands – but bombshell revelations from Prince Harry in the last year revealed that trouble was brewing from the offset of his romance with the former Suits actress.
But despite their fall outs over bridesmaids dresses and Meghan’s comment about Kate’s ‘baby brain’, there is one area wher the woman are aligned and that’s their dedication to mental health initiatives.
And on this year’s World Mental Health Day, Meghan Markle, 42, and Kate Middleton, 41, both proved their continued commitment to the cause.
The two women stressed the importance of opening up and seeking help as they attended engagements on different sides of the Atlantic.
Kate and her husband Prince William took to Birmingham as they hosted a forum for young people – Exploring our Emotional Worlds – focusing on the importance of understanding emotions and building positive relationships.
The Princess of Wales pictured at Nottingham Trent University as she marks World Mental Health Day events
The Duchess of Sussex pictured Meghan at The Archewell Foundation Parents’ Summit “Mental Wellness in the Digital Age”
The mother-of-three marked the occasion with a touching gesture, as she kept a promise she made to a grieving mother by sporting star-shaped earrings given to the royal by Maidenhead Rugby Club coach Sarah Renton.
They were made in memory of Mrs Renton’s daughter, Issy, who tragically took her own life at the age of 17 earlier this year after struggling with depression.
Kate promised to wear the jewellery after receiving them during a trip to the rugby club in June – and she honoured that pledge yesterday.
Meanwhile Meghan and Prince Harry paid a visit to a Brooklyn school that has been touted as an ‘alternative to college,’ with the Duchess of Sussex wearing the letterman jacket she was gifted during her last solo engagement as a working royal.
Ahead of their appearance at New York City’s Hudson Yards for the Archewell Foundation Parents’ Summit: Mental Wellness in a Digital Age, the couple appeared at The Marcy Lab School, which aims to prepare ‘young adults of color for rewarding, wealth-generating careers in the tech sector’ within just one year of education.
Images shared by Harry, 39, and 42-year-old Meghan’s friend and go-to media member Omid Scobie show the duo posing alongside several students at the school.
Scobie added that Harry and Meghan joined a ‘mindful meditation session’ during which the students open up about how they are feeling. He said that the Duke of Sussex advised the class: ‘If one of you starts to go quiet, doesn’t show up, you need to find out why.’
As she entered the school, which benefited from an Archewell Foundation grant earlier this year, Meghan reportedly told students: ‘We’re happy to be back in New York City.’
Kate and her husband Prince William took to Birmingham as they hosted a forum for young people – Exploring our Emotional Worlds
The mother-of-three marked the occasion with a touching gesture, as she kept a promise she made to a grieving mother by sporting star-shaped earrings given to the royal by Maidenhead Rugby Club coach Sarah Renton
Images shared by Harry, 39, and 42-year-old Meghan’s friend and go-to media member Omid Scobie show the duo posing alongside several students at the school
The couple also later attended the first-ever in-person event for the Archewell Foundation in New York yesterday, where they appeared to get emotional as the panel commenced
Meghan admitted that she had been left in tears by some of the stories shared by the parents when they first met
During their visit, Harry encouraged the students to look out for one another.
‘Everyone’s got their own story, a reason for being here, your life is still going to be filled with complications and challenges. And if one of you starts to go quiet, doesn’t show up, you need to find out why,’ he said, according to People.
He also asked the group: ‘What excites you the most and scares you the most about the online world?’
His wife then chimed in saying: ‘I think my husband was asking about online spaces because it’s a place where so much community can be built, but there’s also so much vulnerability.
‘There’s a lot of saturation, and as parents, we can be hopeful knowing that your bright minds [are at work], knowing that they will be seen, valued and growing in the right direction. And that’s why it’s so important what you’re doing at the Marcy Lab.’
The couple also later attended the first-ever in-person event for the Archewell Foundation in New York yesterday, where they appeared to get emotional as the panel commenced – with parents who have ‘suffered tragic loss connected to their child’s social media use’ taking to the stage to share their stories.
Meghan and Kate have for years pioneered mental health work, and both have stressed importance of young people as being at the heart of the cause.
In 2016, William and Kate launched Heads Together, a campaign that helped break the stigma around mental health, and encouraged more people to have everyday conversations about it.
Both royals have spearheaded work in the field, and Kate has in particular focused campaigns on children’s mental health and motherhood.
Earlier this year in February, the Princess spoke to primary school pupils about the importance of connections as she kicked off Place2Be’s Children’s Mental Health Week.
Just last month Kate sweetly approached a live podcast recording before apologising for ‘totally interrupting’ while visiting a charity in east London
She discussed being honest about how you feel as she sat and did colouring-in with youngsters at St John’s CE Primary School in Bethnal Green, east London.
Kate has supported Children’s Mental Health Week since it was launched by Place2Be in 2015, and the theme of this year’s was ‘Let’s Connect’.
Elsewhere in March, she and William visited Wales to meet local communities as well as champion mental-health initiatives, with the couple even taking part in a spin class during a visit to Aberavon Leisure and Fitness Centre in Port Talbot to hear about how sport and exercise can support mental health and well-being.
And just last month Kate sweetly approached a live podcast recording before apologising for ‘totally interrupting’ while visiting a charity in east London.
‘Hello,’ she said, before adding ‘I’m sorry, I’m totally interrupting’.
The royal then gracefully shook hands with the various young people at the centre, before discussing mental health and the importance of talking about negative emotions that ‘society tells us to keep private’.
Upon arrival at the charity’s HQ, the Princess met with frontline staff who work with young people at risk of falling into crime, or those who have already experienced harm or trauma, and aid them by tailoring a pathway of specialised intervention coaching.
Speaking with a team of frontline workers, the royal said: ‘Young people get judged on their external behaviour but you have to understand their backstory.
‘They haven’t probably seen trusting relationships in their lives so that’s so important.’
The Princess said she was keen to ‘connect the dots’ with her work in early childhood and the importance of meeting families and young people before they reach ‘crisis point’.
She said: ‘I love the fact you’re going out into communities, kids are so isolated, they’re at home with these huge struggles.’
The Sussexes have also been ardently committed to championing mental health causes over the years.
In 2020, the couple formed the Archewell Foundation – named after their eldest son Archie – which centers on a number of global bettering initatives, including ‘building a better online world’.
Thanks to Harry’s work around the Invictus Games, a lot of the couples’ work has been centred around the mental wellbeing of veterans.
And the Duchess has also been candid about her own mental health struggles too, in past detailing her hardships dealing with suicidal thoughts while she was a member of the Royal Family. Pictured with Harry during their infamous Oprah interview
Earlier this month, Meghan appeared in a video for the Games – showing her secret visit to a home for military families.
The Duchess of Sussex visited the Fisher House Foundation in Los Angeles, a charity that provides homes for military families while their loved one is in hospital, a day before flying out to Dusseldorf last month.
In a clip shown during an Invictus seminar on Monday, Meghan – dressed in a striped Ralph Lauren shirt and black skirt – is shown meeting and hugging veterans’ families.
The former actress also narrates the clip, partially set over footage from the Invictus Games, showing athletes embracing their families and celebrating sporting success.
‘What does recovery mean to you? For some, it means reclaiming their narrative, revolutionising your mindset,’ she says in the voiceover.
‘It’s a change that’s not only physical, it’s mental, emotional, social.’
She added: ‘The Invictus Games show that this growth is about more than what meets the eye.
‘The spouse coordinating doctor visits, the children celebrating milestones. The mother, father, fellow veteran, the friend. There is a community near and far, surrounding servicemen and women when they deploy and long after they come home.
‘Healing does not happen alone, it takes a village – and is for the village. And one of the most essential parts of the process is having people surround you who understand. To grow as one unit, to achieve limitless potential.
‘To remind us above all else, in this international family no one gets left behind. Because this is Invictus, we are Invictus together.’
And the Duchess has also been candid about her own mental health struggles too, in past detailing her hardships dealing with suicidal thoughts while she was a member of the Royal Family.
Asked during a 2022 Ripple of Hope Gala in New York City interview about her decision to discuss her suicidal thoughts during her infamous 2021 Oprah Winfrey interview, Meghan said ‘it wasn’t an easy decision to make, as you can imagine.’
She characterized her decision to share as something of an obligation because of her platform.
‘When you’ve been through anything that’s challenging, and everyone, especially in the past few years with lockdown and COVID, that spike in numbers of people having an experience they might not be voicing,’ she said.
‘We all need to, when we can, if we feel brave enough, to just speak honestly about your own experience. It gives other people space and the courage to do the same, but more than that to really feel like you’re not alone, because I think that is often what can be the largest hindrance when you feel that way, you don’t see a way out.’
Meghan said while she felt ‘ashamed’ to admit her feelings – especially to her husband, who she noted has suffered serious loss – she feared not doing so would be the end of her. ‘I knew that if I didn’t say it, then I would do it. I just didn’t want to be alive anymore.’
It would seem the pair have more than just their in-laws in common as both have a history of working on community initiatives in mental wellbeing. Both pictured in 2018
‘But ultimately, if you feel like there’s someone else that has a lived experience. they’ve gotten to the other side, and gave an example of resilience, an example of “there is a happy ending”, I think that’s what most people are probably seeking out in those moments.’
‘And that’s why I made the decision to just say, “if my experience can help someone else not feel the same way or to know that there’s hope then it’s worth every second of whatever comes with it”.’
Most recently, Kate has also stressed the importance of sharing personal stories as part of a greater good.
‘Alongside the efforts of many others, we have seen real change,’ she told a Birmingham audience.
‘Today, more people feel empowered to talk about their mental health than ever before. This is a major step forward.
‘William and I continue to be inspired to see young people, like you all here today, leading this charge – being particularly brave in having some of those conversations yourselves.
‘As a generation, you value and talk more about your mental health than any before you – something we truly admire and applaud.
‘It is important, however, to remind ourselves of the big picture as we meet here today. What are we trying to improve by focusing our efforts on mental health? Ultimately, we are working to build a happier, healthier world.
‘We want to shape fairer, safer, kinder, more equal societies – societies that seek the common good and a better future together.
‘For just as we need to restore, protect, and invest in our planet, so we must also restore, protect, and invest in the communities, relationships and people living on it.’
The princess stressed that talking about mental health is not enough, adding: ‘Although many more conversations are now taking place, it is now vital we spend more time focusing on how we talk about our mental health – and crucially; What are we are going to do, to build positive, preventative solutions to one of today’s toughest challenges.
‘We are living in a world however, that is changing so fast, where social media and concerns about the threat of conflict, pandemics, climate change or the cost of living, can impact our emotional wellbeing and future hopes dramatically.
‘On top of this, as young people, this can also be a time in your lives, when you perhaps feel the vulnerability of growing independence and self-consciousness.
‘But, by gaining deeper insight into ourselves, we’ll be better equipped, to handle the external challenges we all encounter.
‘Today we heard the science and research that backs this up, and how crucial it is, that we develop the skills needed to navigate everything we will face in the future.
‘William and I believe we need to do all we can as a society to help young people develop the emotional and social life skills they need for good mental health, and to thrive in the world around them. Together, let’s build a brighter, more resilient future.’
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