The Duchess of Sussex has held private talks with Michelle Obama after watching her speak on female empowerment, royal protocol and the challenges facing black women in the public eye.
The Duchess, whose public work is expected to focus heavily on advocacy for women, watched Mrs Obama speak at the South Bank Centre in London on Monday night, joining an audience of 2,700 people to hear the former First Lady’s advice about life.
Afterwards, the pair met privately backstage for a convivial conversation: the first time they have spoken directly despite their shared professional interests.
The Duchess, who attended the event with staff rather than her husband the Duke, was spotted by members of the public during the evening, and is understood to have enjoyed a warm personal discussion with Mrs Obama afterwards.
The meeting is likely to have been particularly appreciated by the Duchess, who has faced a difficult few weeks in the public eye fuelled by news that the Sussexes are moving away from their in-laws at Kensington Palace.
The pair share a common interest in women’s empowerment, with their husbands already firm friends after working together to promote the Invictus Games.
The Duchess will announce her next projects for her work in the Royal Family, as well as her first charity patronages, in the new year.
Last week, Mrs Obama offered advice to the Duchess in a magazine interview, recommending that she “take some time and don’t be in a hurry to do anything”.
At the live event at the South Bank, publicising her autobiography,
Mrs Obama spoke on topics from the Queen’s alleged dismissal of royal protocol as “rubbish” to her disdain for fashion designers who “treat their staff badly”.
In an on-stage interview, Mrs Obama may inadvertently offered words of comfort to the Duchess who has faced criticism for “breaching protocol” with some of her fashion choices since joining the Royal Family.
The American speaker said of her visit to the Queen in 2016, where she was ushered into a waiting car with Her Majesty and Prince Philip: “I had all this protocol buzzing in my head …and she [the Queen] says ‘Oh it’s all rubbish, just get in’.”
Mrs Obama also offered words of wisdom to newlyweds, admitting: “When I talk to young people just starting to get married, I say: there are going to be huge chunks of time where you want to push him out the window.”