Meghan Markle keeps it casual in jeans and her favourite flats as she and Harry kick off jam-packed Morocco tour
Meghan Markle is proving of just how chic flats can be for a jam-packed two-day tour of Morocco, filled with late finishes and early starts.
Britain's Duke and Duchess of Sussex touched down at Casablanca Airport last night for their whirlwind trip as guests of Morocco's King Mohammed for a trip which will include visits to an NGO run by a British philanthropist encouraging education for young women aged 12 to 18 and a secondary school. This morning, the couple kicked off the whirlwind trip in the country's iconic Atlas Mountains to visit the town of Asni and meet those from the Education For All initiative.
The organisation builds boarding houses for girls aged 12 to 18 to ensure that youngsters from rural communities in the mountain region are able to access secondary education. Meghan took part in a henna ceremony - an ancient custom that is thought to have its roots in North Africa - and have a design painted on her hand to celebrate her pregnancy.
Today's itinerary has a specific focus on education for young people, particularly girls, and requires a lot of walking, which is why she shunned her signature heels, which she is so attached to that she even famously wore a pair of three-inch Sarah Flint stilettos on the grounds of Croke Park last summer.
The Birdies Blackbird slippers, which feature faux shearling and silk in the sole, is described as the world's most versatile slipper and she has preferred the black suede style since long before she married into the British royal family. In the early days of her relationship with Harry and she was still living in Toronto, when her every move was documented by paparazzi, they became her go-to shoe and elevated the brand to new levels of popularity.
After her royal makeover, which requires picture perfection at all times, she has preferred wearing heels, but it seems since she returned from New York for her lavish bridal shower, she has some renewed energy to recapture those important elements of her identity before her title - right down to her feet.
It is also a subtle way to showcase her more down-to-earth approach to fashion and spending by recycling non-designer shoes after she was criticised for the six-figure cost of her baby shower trip (which was reportedly paid for by Serena Williams and Amal Clooney). She finished off her all-black look with a navy Alice + Olivia blazer and grey scarf as she met with well-wishers today.
Later, at another Education For All boarding house, the couple will meet its founder Mr Mike McHugo.The first Education For All (EFA) project was opened in 2007 and it now has 50 EFA girls enrolled at university. While in Asni, the duke and duchess will also visit a secondary school to meet students, teachers and watch the pupils playing football.
Meghan is already making efforts to showcase fashion diplomacy with a carefully selected Valentino cape dress, which wasn't simply selected for its obvious elegance, but the colour red was an homage to the Moroccan flag, according to InStyle.
In the years following Britain's 2016 referendum decision to leave the EU, the royal family made a string of visits to Europe, helping to renew and strengthen the UK's ties with the continent as the Brexit process progressed. The British monarchy uses what has been termed "soft diplomacy" to promote the UK brand whenever they travel abroad.
It now appears part of the focus of overseas royal tours may be on Africa, which the Prime Minister has already described as having "incredible potential". Extra security has reportedly been requested as their visit occurs just days after some civil unrest in the capital of Rabat in which protests turned violent. Like all trips, theirs is heavily guarded and scheduled and their engagements in the country will be taking place largely indoors at homes behind walled gardens.
A Kensington Palace spokesperson said: "Their royal highnesses are very much looking forward to the visit and are grateful to their hosts and the British Embassy for arranging such an interesting programme. They are particularly pleased that they will have the opportunity to meet so many young Moroccans over the next few days."
British royals' relationship with Moroccan royal tours has been one considered colourful at best. When Queen Elizabeth made her one and only state visit to Morocco in 1980, it was dubbed the "tour from hell".
She endured a lengthy wait in a sweltering hot desert tent while the Moroccan King Hassan II vanished and went to lounge in his air-conditioned caravan. "Keep your cameras trained; you may see the biggest walkout of all time," she told photographers.
The Queen's sister Princess Margaret, reportedly warned her, saying: "Going to Morocco is rather like being kidnapped, you never know where you are going or when."
Schedules were thrown into disarray and venues were switched between the many royal palaces without notice. At one point,Queen arrived in full regalia for the king's state banquet to find that the chosen palace was closed. In the end, she was said to have grown fond of Hassan, who recognised she was not a monarch to be messed with. She sent him a letter afterwards praising his warm and generous hospitality.
Prince Charles has made several visits to Morocco, and a trip in 1996 was described as something of "mystery tour". True to form, Hassan changed the prince's programme at the last minute.
A planned audience at a palace in Morocco's capital Rabat was switched to a hunting lodge 40 miles away.
King Hassan died in 1999, and was succeeded by his son King Mohammed VI. Charles made another visit in 2011, with the Duchess of Cornwall, which went much more smoothly, despite coming in the wake of unrest in North African states.
Additional reporting by Press Association