Meghan Markle to succeed Queen as patron of London's National Theatre to reflect her love for acting
The appointment was widely expected to happen after the former actress Meghan met with the theatre's director, Rufus Norris, in private.
Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, was confirmed on January 10 as the new patron of the National Theatre after the news was "announced" by accident on its website the previous night. The appointment was widely rumored to happen after the former actress Meghan met with the theater's director, Rufus Norris, in private earlier.
Kensington Palace, however, stayed mum about it until 9 a.m. on January 10. The role is being considered a great honor since the Queen was the patron of the theater for 45 years. However, it was widely expected that she would hand over one of her many patronages to her new granddaughter-in-law at some point in 2019, reports the Daily Mail.
In addition to this the Duchess has also taken on honorary roles with the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU), which is a patronage that was also held by the Queen before, Smart Works (which helps unemployed and women at risk), and Mayhew (which is an animal charity in Kensal Green, North West London).
The Duchess of Sussex will become Patron of four organisations that reflect the causes and issues with which she has long been associated including the arts, access to education, support for women and animal welfare. pic.twitter.com/tU9QWDlPyH— Kensington Palace (@KensingtonRoyal) January 10, 2019
Aside from being the patron of the National Theatre for 45 years, the Queen has also been the patron of the ACU, which is also based in London, for 33 years. The announcement made by the palace today marks a major milestone for Meghan and it indicates her growing involvement in public life as a member of the royal family.
37-year-old Meghan, who is expecting her first child with husband Prince Harry this spring, announced the details of which organizations she will be championing as a part of her public work on January 10. After her May wedding, last year, she has visited a number of charities, including the Hubb Community Kitchen and other groups supporting female empowerment and education.
In December 2018, the juiciest clue that Meghan would be taking over as the National Theatre patron came when the Court Circular, the official record of the Royal Family's work, reported: "The Duchess of Sussex today received Mr. Rufus Norris (Artistic Director, the National Theatre)." The former actress who starred in the hit American legal drama 'Suits' is a good match for the role. She met Prince Harry when she was still acting and gave up her blossoming career to be with him.
Norris said in a statement on January 10: "I would like to thank the Queen for Her Majesty's long and unwavering support and service to the National Theatre. We were honored when the Queen became our patron in 1974 and have celebrated many moments together including, in recent years, the Diamond Jubilee and the marking of our 50th anniversary. It is a privilege to welcome the Duchess of Sussex as our new patron."
He continued: "The Duchess shares our deeply held conviction that theatre has the power to bring together people from all communities and walks of life. I very much look forward to working closely with Her Royal Highness in the years to come." Meghan is expected to carry out a public visit to the National Theatre in the following weeks.
Dr. Joanna Newman, the chief executive and secretary general of the Association of Commonwealth Universities, said: "We are absolutely delighted that HRH The Duchess of Sussex has chosen to become Patron of the ACU. The Duchess shares our passion for the transformational power of higher education, and Her Royal Highness' support will help champion higher education as a force for good in the Commonwealth and beyond. We would like to thank Her Majesty The Queen for her support, and we look forward to working closely with The Duchess as our Patron."
Mayhew also tweeted: "We're honored to reveal that Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Sussex has become a Patron of Mayhew. We're thrilled that HRH shares our commitment to improving the lives of animals and people, and are excited to make a difference together." Smart Works posted on Twitter as well saying: "We are honored to announce that HRH The Duchess of Sussex will become the royal patron of Smart Works."
Juliet Hughes-Hallett, the Chair and Founder of Smart Works, said: "An acknowledged champion of women and their rights worldwide, the Duchess will motivate ever more women to come to our centers and get the job that will transform their lives. The Duchess's patronage will inspire the women we serve and help them reach for the stars."
Chief executive Kate Stephens said: "We are delighted that the Duchess of Sussex is our royal patron. It is our vision that we have enough centers nationwide to reach every woman who needs us. The support of The Duchess of Sussex will help us enormously in achieving this goal."