The Royal Foundation released a short film in which the Duchess of Sussex lends a hand to a group of women who suffered after the Grenfell Tower tragedy

By Simon Perry
September 17, 2018 08:36 AM

Meghan Markle just made her first solo leap into public royal work — and she did it onscreen.

On Monday, the Royal Foundation released a short film in which the Duchess of Sussex lends a hand to a group of women who suffered after the Grenfell Tower tragedy.

Meghan, 37, was instrumental in helping keep the women’s community kitchen by suggesting they come up with a cookbook of their favorite 50 recipes.

The book, Together: Our Community Cookbook, is out this week and features a foreword written by Meghan. The Hubb community kitchen, she writes, “is a place for women to laugh, grieve, cry and cook together.”

Jenny Zarins/PA Wire/PA Images
Jenny Zarins/PA Wire/PA Images

The idea for the project came from visits Meghan made to the Al Manaar Muslim Cultural Heritage Centre in west London. She first visited in January.

There, a group of women came together to cook fresh food to help feed the families and neighbors displaced by the devastating fire that killed more than 70 people.

Meghan Markle
Jenny Zarins/PA/REX/Shutterstock
Meghan Markle
Jenny Zarins/PA Wire/PA Images

But they were only able to do this for two days a week. When Meghan asked the women at the Hubb Community Kitchen why the facility was not available a full week, she was told it was due to funding.

“Melding cultural identities under a shared roof . . . creates a space to feel a sense of normalcy — in its simplest form, the universal need to connect, nurture, and commune through food, through crisis or joy — something we can all relate to,” Meghan writes.

“Through this charitable endeavor, the proceeds will allow the kitchen to thrive and keep the global spirit of community alive.”

Jenny Zarins/PA Wire/PA Images
Jenny Zarins/PA Wire/PA Images
Jenny Zarins/PA Wire/PA Images

Meghan, who is “passionate about food and cooking as a way of strengthening communities,” she writes, put them in touch with a publisher and, with the help of the Royal Foundation, the book was born.

Jenny Zarins/PA Wire/PA Images
Jenny Zarins/PA Wire/PA Images

Together is cookbook but it’s also the story of a west London Community who gathered together in a kitchen and discovered the healing power of sharing food,” Meghan says in the short film she narrates.

“The Duchess has been heavily involved in the project from the start,” a royal source tells PEOPLE.

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Zahira Ghaswala, 38, the coordinator at the Hubb Community Kitchen, says Meghan has visited several times since her first visit in January.

“The duchess came round to have a look at the service we were providing. She just got stuck in straight away. The next minute I realized there was an apron put on her, and she was washing rice!” Ghaswala told reporters on Monday.

“It was just all natural – the joy, the happiness. The environment just makes everyone feel you want to join in. She was loving – the recipes, the flavors that were put together. She tasted some of our menus, and she asked me, ‘Let’s make a cookbook.’

“She has got stuck with helping, preparing, serving, making chapatis. It’s all very natural. She fits in really well. She thrives in the group, she inspires the group. We gather, and enjoy.

“She enjoys being with the women, seeing the women’s skills, their abilities and their talents coming forward. She comes in, naturally, fits in, gets stuck in, puts an apron on… It just feels very supportive, very real.”

Profits from the sales of Together will help keep the kitchen open for up to seven days a week and widen its reach to others in the community, Meghan’s office at Kensington Palace says. The Royal Foundation — which runs many of the charity endeavors of Meghan, Prince Harry, Prince William and Kate Middleton — is organizing the transfer of funds from the sale of Together to the Hubb Community Kitchen and related projects.