Meghan Markle is taking on an exciting new role in the royal family. It was just announced that the Duchess of Sussex is the patron of four new charities.
On Thursday, Markle stepped out for her first public event of the New Year on Thursday to visit one of her new patronages.
The third charity is Smart Works, a charity that supports women who have been out of work. Founded in September 2013, Smart Works helps unemployed and vulnerable women regain the confidence they need to get jobs, succeed at job interviews, return to employment and transform their lives.
Part of this is helping women find outfits for their interviews. According to the charity, 60% of the women go on to get a job following their visit to Smart Works.
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."
She added, "The Duchess’s patronage will inspire the women we serve and help them reach for the stars.”
The 37-year-old Duchess visited the charity on Thursday wearing a maternity dress. This is the first time she's stepped out in a maternity dress.
She showed off her baby bump in a black midi-length dress with a ribbed crew neckline.
It's from the New York-based maternity brand Hatch that has also been worn by Rachel Weisz, Scarlett Johansson, Jessica Alba, and Reese Witherspoon. Soon after Meghan’s pregnancy was announced in October, Hatch founder Ariane Goldman joked to the Hollywood Reporter: “Do you know anyone who knows Meghan Markle?”
Meghan topped her look off with a swing coat and a sleek bun. She looked absolutely lovely as always.
The other patronages that were announced on Thursday are the National Theatre, The Association of Commonwealth Universities and the animal welfare charity Mayhew. They are all national and grassroot organizations “that are part of the fabric of the U.K,” the palace said.
The Duchess arrived at the Smart Works office in London on Thursday morning. She spoke with staff members and met women who have benefited from the charity’s support.
The Duchess even took a hands-on role. She helped women find outfits for attending their second interviews and sat in on interview coaching and preparation.
During the visit, it was revealed that Meghan has been there several times before. She has secretly visited the charity and helped women prepare for their interviews.
Chairwoman Juliet Hughes-Hallett told reporters, “She’s been to see us privately a number of times and was very hands-on, not just with the clothes but with the interviews.
Hughes-Hallett added, “She has fantastic empathy and has been helping to coach some of our clients. She’s a natural and has already made a big difference.”
Since the charity was founded, Smart Works has helped over 11,000 women and aims to dress 3,500 women this year across their two London offices, and additional bases in key cities across the U.K. — Edinburgh, Manchester, Reading, Birmingham, and Newcastle.