The Duke and Duchess of Sussex will begin the new year with an away day to the north west of England, Kensington Palace said on Monday. After taking a short break to celebrate Christmas and the New Year, the couple is back in London and will resume work with a visit to the town of Birkenhead, Merseyside.
According to the itinerary released this afternoon by Kensington Palace, Harry and Meghan will meet veterans and unveil a plaque in the town’s Hamilton Square before visiting an organization that supports vulnerable women and the Hive, Wirral Youth Zone where they will take part in workshops.
As Vanity Fair revealed last year, Meghan, who is feeling well during the third trimester of her pregnancy, has asked aides to fill her diary right up to her due date and the couple is likely to carry out many more engagements over the coming months. Last year, Meghan and Harry clocked up an impressive 289 engagements in the U.K. and overseas, and plans are being drawn up for a tour to Canada and the U.S. this autumn.
The Palace has confirmed the Sussexes’ baby will be born in “the spring” but the actual date has not been announced. While many expect it to be a late March or early April baby, given the timing of the announcement last October when Meghan was believed to be at least 12 weeks pregnant, Meghan has hinted the baby could arrive sooner, telling one well-wisher at Sandringham at Christmas that she is “nearly there” with her pregnancy.
The couple is busy preparing for the birth and overseeing renovations to their new home, Frogmore Cottage in Windsor, but they are still keeping up with their royal duties. Despite reports of her 5 A.M. e-mails to staff, Meghan has impressed courtiers with her enthusiastic work ethic, and she is to be rewarded personally by the Queen.
Over the weekend, it was reported that Meghan is set to succeed the Queen as the royal patron of the National Theatre. An aide confirmed to V.F. that the announcement will be made in the next several days. According to the Mail on Sunday, Meghan, a former actress, is considered “a perfect fit” for the job. The Queen has handed over numerous patronages in the past year to younger family members as she scales back her work commitments. It is a sign of her faith in the duchess that she is handing over such a prestigious position to Meghan.
The soon-to-be-announced role will give Meghan, who studied theatre as an undergraduate at Northwestern, a chance to dip back into her former acting world and give her a connection with home. She will be involved with the American Associates of the National Theatre, which contributes £3 million a year to its budget.
Prior to this week, Meghan’s last public engagement was an unannounced appearance at the British Fashion Awards in December when she took to the stage to present Clare Waight Keller, her wedding dress designer, with an award. According to Palace insiders, Meghan’s attendance at the event “irked” the Queen, as she thought the event was too celebrity-focused. Meghan was wearing an off-the-shoulder dress and black nail polish, and she filmed a Boomerang with actress Rosamund Pike and Waight Keller, which was posted on Instagram. This apparently didn’t go down well at the Palace. As the footage went viral, it was quickly taken down. The Queen has expressed disappointment in Meghan’s breaches of protocol before, and the day in Birkenhead is a more typical royal visit, including two plaque unveilings.