Sunday 18 November 2018

'Head over heels' - Meghan Markle joined by Prince Harry and her mother Doria at new Grenfell community cookbook launch

Meghan Markle, accompanied by Prince Harry, and her mother, Doria Ragland , welcomes the women behind the cookbook she has championed to Kensington Palace in London
Photo: Ben Stansall/PA Wire
Meghan Markle, accompanied by Prince Harry, and her mother, Doria Ragland , welcomes the women behind the cookbook she has championed to Kensington Palace in London Photo: Ben Stansall/PA Wire
Britain's Prince Harry, and Doria Ragland listen to Meghan, Duchess of Sussex speaking at the launch of a cookbook with recipes from a group of women affected by the Grenfell Tower fire at Kensington Palace in London Ben Stansall/Pool via Reuters
Meghan Markle welcomes the women behind the cookbook she has championed to Kensington Palace in London Photo: Ben Stansall/PA Wire
The Duchess of Sussex, accompanied by the Duke of Sussex and her mother Doria Ragland, pose for a group photo with the women behind the cookbook she has championed at Kensington Palace in London Photo credit: Ben Stansall/PA Wire
Meghan Markle, accompanied by Prince Harry, and her mother, Doria Ragland , welcomes the women behind the cookbook she has championed to Kensington Palace in London Photo: Ben Stansall/PA Wire
Meghan Markle, accompanied by Prince Harry, and her mother, Doria Ragland , welcomes the women behind the cookbook she has championed to Kensington Palace in London Photo: Ben Stansall/PA Wire
Meghan Markle, accompanied by Prince Harry, and her mother, Doria Ragland , welcomes the women behind the cookbook she has championed to Kensington Palace in London Photo: Ben Stansall/PA Wire
Meghan, Duchess of Sussex helps to prepare food at the launch of a cookbook with recipes from a group of women affected by the Grenfell Tower fire at Kensington Palace in London, Britain September 20, 2018. Ben Stansall/Pool via Reuters
Meghan Markle, accompanied by Prince Harry, and her mother, Doria Ragland , welcomes the women behind the cookbook she has championed to Kensington Palace in London Photo: Ben Stansall/PA Wire
Meghan, Duchess of Sussex helps to prepare food at the launch of a cookbook with recipes from a group of women affected by the Grenfell Tower fire at Kensington Palace in London, Britain September 20, 2018. Ben Stansall/Pool via Reuters

Tony Jones

Meghan Markle brought her mother to the launch of the Grenfell community cookbook she has championed - and helped prepare lunch for the guests.

Doria Ragland's last memorable appearance was on the steps of St George's Chapel following the royal wedding in May, watching her daughter begin her new life as a member of the monarchy.

In London to visit Meghan and her husband for a number of days, Doria - who, according to reports, is moving to the capital to be near her daughter - was invited to join the celebrations of the cookbook, Together, along with Harry.

Meghan has been the driving force behind the book, suggesting the idea to a group of women who came together to cook at a Muslim cultural centre in North Kensington in the aftermath of the Grenfell blaze.

She marked the occasion by giving her first public speech as a duchess, telling guests before they sat down to a lunch featuring dishes from the book: "Working on this project for the past nine months has been a tremendous labour of love."

Meghan, who has been privately visiting the cooks, added: "I had just recently moved to London and I felt so immediately embraced by the women in the kitchen - your warmth, your kindness, and also to be able to be in this city and to see in this one small room how multi-cultural it was."

Speaking from a marquee in Perk's Field close to Kensington Palace, she said of the family chefs: "On a personal level I feel so proud to live in a city that can have so much diversity - 12 countries represented in this one group of women."

Ms Ragland introduced herself to guests as "Meg's mom" when she arrived at the marquee with Meghan and Harry, and said she was "head over heels" with pride.

Meghan Markle welcomes the women behind the cookbook she has championed to Kensington Palace in London
Photo: Ben Stansall/PA Wire
Meghan Markle welcomes the women behind the cookbook she has championed to Kensington Palace in London Photo: Ben Stansall/PA Wire

Meghan quickly got stuck in, preparing food that was laid out on trestle tables, dishing out green rice and later flipping chapatis and then watching kofta kebabs, turning them so they browned evenly.

The duchess looked stylish in a top by Tuxe, skirt by Misha Nonoo and coat by Smythe.

Doria is a social worker and yoga instructor and she took a keen interest in the food being prepared.

As her daughter turned a chapati, she asked: "What kind of oil are you using?" and approved when told it was sunflower oil.

Guests sat down to the home-made dishes from the new cookbook including coconut chicken curry, aubergine masala and a range of chapatis and sharing dips, as well as caramelised plum upside-down cake, and spiced mint tea.

Meghan has been privately visiting the Hubb Community Kitchen, at the Al Manaar Muslim Cultural Heritage Centre in North Kensington, where the women who created the book regularly meet to cook.

Meghan Markle, accompanied by Prince Harry, and her mother, Doria Ragland , welcomes the women behind the cookbook she has championed to Kensington Palace in London
Photo: Ben Stansall/PA Wire
Meghan Markle, accompanied by Prince Harry, and her mother, Doria Ragland , welcomes the women behind the cookbook she has championed to Kensington Palace in London Photo: Ben Stansall/PA Wire

The duchess wrote the foreword for Together, which is in bookshops from Thursday but has been available to order online for a few days.

Zahira Ghaswala, the Hubb's co-ordinator who hosted Meghan's first visit to the kitchen, said about the book's sales: "As far as I know, on Amazon we're number one - everything's just been a positive vibe out there.

"Even before it's got to the stores we've had people requesting it, we've had many phone calls 'where can I get a copy of this book?'."

In her speech, which was made without notes, Meghan thanked all those involved, adding: "On a personal note I'm especially grateful because this is my first project so I appreciate your support and the vision that I had for this and seeing it come to fruition.

"Everyone embraced this so deeply, because it's been a passion project for all of us - and for very good reason.

Meghan Markle, accompanied by Prince Harry, and her mother, Doria Ragland , welcomes the women behind the cookbook she has championed to Kensington Palace in London
Photo: Ben Stansall/PA Wire
Meghan Markle, accompanied by Prince Harry, and her mother, Doria Ragland , welcomes the women behind the cookbook she has championed to Kensington Palace in London Photo: Ben Stansall/PA Wire

"I said in the foreword that this is more than a cookbook, and what I mean by that is the power of food is more than just the meal itself, it is the story behind it.

"And when you get to know the story of the recipe you get to know the person behind it, and that's what we're talking about in terms of coming together, to really engage and talk and to be able to celebrate what connects us, rather than what divides us.

"That, I believe, is the ethos of Together."

Press Association

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