Meghan launches project to mentor women with video featuring a juggling Harry

The Duchess of Sussex talking with actress Melissa McCarthy during a video released on her 40th birthday (Archewell) (PA Media)
16:16pm, Wed 04 Aug 2021
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The Duchess of Sussex has shown her comic side in a video to launch a mentoring project for women across the globe – but a juggling Harry steals the show.

Meghan marked her 40th birthday by gathering a host of celebrity friends, activists and leaders to launch 40×40 – an initiative to help women return to the workplace as the world recovers from the pandemic.

Among those who have committed 40 minutes of their time to mentor a woman in their community are singer Adele, Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, the wife of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and fashion designer Stella McCartney.

Actress Melissa McCarthy in the spoof video call (Archewell) (PA Media)

In a short film to launch the initiative, she is joined by comedy actress Melissa McCarthy who pokes fun at the duchess – suggesting they get matching tattoos of both their faces, but the duchess replies she has something similar on her back already.

The duchess says in the video: “Because I’m turning 40 I’m asking 40 friends to donate 40 minutes of their time to help mentor a woman who is mobilising back into the workforce.

“Over two million in the US alone and tens of millions around the world have lost their jobs due to Covid, and I think if we all do it and all commit 40 minutes to some sort of act of service we can create a ripple effect.”

McCarthy is caught in a dressing gown playing with a Rubik’s cube at the start of their spoof video call.

But she quickly returns as if dressed for a Buckingham Palace garden party, complete with floral dress, matching hat, white gloves and a china cup and saucer and tells Meghan “this will seem better for you”.

Meghan chats to Melissa (Archewell) (PA Media)

When Meghan says she has an idea for her 40th birthday, the comic tries to guess: “Is it another photoshoot under a tree, where you’re looking very peaceful?”

The Sussexes announced their second pregnancy by publishing a black and white image of the duchess lying in the duke’s lap under a tree, and Meghan tells the actress “peaceful under a tree is me every day”.

McCarthy is disappointed Meghan is not having a “yacht party” but signs up for the project and at the end Meghan is shown blowing a candle out on a birthday cake and nearby is the family dog Guy, a Beagle.

What appears to be outtakes are shown at the end, and the comic bursts out laughing when she sees Harry juggling balls at a downstairs window and when Meghan turns around she laughs as well.

Meghan has written a statement of intent about her new initiative 40×40 on the website of her charitable foundation Archewell.

Meghan blows out a candle on her birthday cake (Archewell) (PA Media)

She says when reflecting on turning 40, and the many things she is “grateful for”, she was struck that “time” is “among our greatest and most essential gifts” especially “time spent in service to others knowing that it can contribute to incredible change”.

The duchess, who two months ago gave birth to her second child daughter Lilibet, claimed the women who had left working life during the pandemic were still in unpaid roles like carers and she claimed research has shown fewer women than men will return to work as the recovery begins.

Meghan added she believed “mentorship is one way to help women regain confidence and rebuild their economic strength” and “with this time, I hope they each help someone advance a professional life on her own terms, and, I hope that they inspire countless others to give 40 minutes of their time as well”.

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