The Duchess of Sussex went to see the last of the set of official patronages she recently announced would help define her public life

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January 31, 2019 09:13 AM
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Meghan Markle has officially completed her tour of all four of her new causes with a visit to the Association of Commonwealth Universities on Thursday.

The Duchess of Sussex went to see the last of the set of official patronages she recently announced would help define her public life.

Meghan, who is expecting her first child in late April, arrived in her black coat, which she previously wore last year on Remembrance Sunday, and a bespoke black dress with pleated skirt, both by her wedding dress designer Givenchy. And she changed up her usual hairstyle — which she usually wears down or in a messy bun — and debuted her first top knot. The sleek look showed off her Dean Davidson "Midi Knockout" stud earrings, which she has worn before.

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Her major hair looks are courtesy of her personal hairdresser, George Northwood, who not only styled her chic bun worn for her evening wedding reception, he also traveled as part of the couple’s entourage on their royal tour Down Under in October.

Meghan Markle
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Meghan Markle
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Meghan headed to the City University in London to meet with students and academics from the Association of Commonwealth Universities network. Meghan became patron of the ACU — a role she inherited from Queen Elizabeth — earlier this month.

During her visit, she spoke with Dr. Ephraim Kisangala, a Commonwealth PhD scholar from Uganda, who is studying Public Heath and Health Promotion at Bangor University. They chatted about his thesis on menstrual hygiene management in refugee settlements in his country. “The Duchess was very passionate about our work, I could tell she had a genuine concern for the women we are trying to help,” he said. “She has been to Africa and has also identified the problem herself in the past for the women who are suffering due to the attitudes towards menstruation across the world.”

Meghan has used her voice to challenge social issues around the world. In March 2017 for International Women’s Day, Meghan spoke out about the stigma surrounding menstruation, particularly in impoverished countries such as India, where the girls are shamed for starting their periods.

Meghan Markle
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It came a day after husband Prince Harry, 34, had made his own Commonwealth-based visit when he took part in a roundtable discussion with young leaders from around the world in his role as the Commonwealth Youth Ambassador.

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Meghan, 37, also stepped out on Wednesday to see one of her other patronages, the National Theatre, in London (another role she took over from the Queen).

On Thursday’s visit, she talked with students from the Commonwealth who are now studying in the U.K. and for whom access to university has transformed their lives.

Meghan Markle
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Meghan Markle
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When Meghan was announced as the new patron, Secretary-General of the Association of Commonwealth Universities, Dr. Joanna Newman, told PEOPLE, “She’s going to be a fantastic patron. She’s going to be a very powerful champion of the causes that the ACU worries about and champions itself. She has a track record in being a champion of causes like support for women and social mobility and improving access to education across the world. These are all issues that the ACU care about.”

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The Queen, 92, was patron for 33 years. “If the patronage was to be handed over, we are thrilled it is going to be the duchess. But there is a legacy too – and we have the Queen Elizabeth Commonwealth Scholarship and these are now open for application.”

Meghan Markle
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Meghan Markle
REX/Shutterstock

Both Meghan and Harry are going to be cheerleaders for the Commonwealth — the international family of 53 nations that are linked to the U.K. “They are both magnetic ambassadors for young people,” Dr. Newman said. “So wherever they go in the Commonwealth we have our member universities there to open their doors to them to meet the young people who are studying there and the academics and scholars who are making the difference in the university.”

Meghan is “an inspirational role model,” she added.

“She’s really enthusiastic and extremely articulate on higher education. She is also a graduate of Northwestern and she understands the world of higher education. She is capable of understanding the whole range of issues in higher education. She is an articulate speaker and very inspirational — and easy to speak to.”

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