LONDON: Newly-wed Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, has promised to give more time to the Indian charity handpicked for donations in lieu of gifts for her royal wedding to Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex.
As the 36-year-old former actress mingled with the 600 guests invited to St George's Chapel in Windsor Castle yesterday, she told Mumbai-based Myna Mahila Foundation founder that she was looking forward to giving more time to the women's empowerment charity.
"It was the highlight of the day, to meet the bride. She was as down to earth and as approachable as ever. She said that now she would be able to give more time to Myna and other humanitarian work," said Suhani Jalota, who founded the charity nearly three years ago.
As a guest in the chapel and the lunchtime reception hosted by Queen Elizabeth II soon after at St George's Hall in the Castle, Jalota received lot of compliments for her pastel sari with Indian motifs.
Bollywood star Priyanka Chopra, who was among the guests as one of the bride's close friends from the acting world, also bonded with her over her "very pretty" outfit and their mutual admiration for their mothers' support in their lives.
"It was just such a heart-warming experience...going to the chapel and reception afterwards made the whole thing a lot more grounded. When you perceive this from the outside, it is all about this really glamorous royal wedding but when you are actually there, you see that it's just about love and marriage and friendship and family," said Jalota, who then joined her colleagues on the grounds of the castle.
Deborah Das and Archana Ambre, who had made their first ever plane journey for the royal wedding, described their day as a "once in a lifetime" opportunity as they shared ice-creams along with over 2,600 guests invited into the castle on the day.
The group is now set for a special fundraising event titled "Chaat for Change" at Calcutta Canteen in London on Monday evening, when Das and Ambre will be cooking up some Mumbai street food such as bhel puri and pau bhaaji to raise funds for the charity.
"It promises to be a great Indian evening. The paus have flown in all the way from a bakery in Thane and we will have some Myna merchandise on sale as well as some Bollywood dancing," said Imogen Mansfield, who completes the foursome representing Myna Mahila Foundation from India for the royal event.
The charity, founded in 2015, works on getting women talking about taboo issues such as menstrual hygiene.
It provides employment to women from the urban slums of Mumbai, many of whom then also go door-to-door selling the low-cost sanitary napkins they produce.
Markle was impressed by their work during a visit to India last year and had pledged her support, a promise that she kept when she and Prince Harry were shortlisting charities that would become beneficiaries of donations from people who wanted to celebrate their royal wedding.
The Mumbai-based charity became the only non-UK-based charity among the final seven shortlisted by the royal couple.
"It will certainly go a very long way in building our credibility and getting our voice heard on a global platform," said Jalota.
The foundation has noted a hundred-fold spike in traffic to its website since the royal attention last month and plans to use proceeds raised from the donations towards expanding its network to more urban slums in Mumbai and eventually to nearby areas in Maharashtra.