Meghan Markel covered up in a cap and coat as she went incognito on Monday night during a secret trip to New York, where she is set to attend a baby shower thrown by her closest friends.
The seven-months pregnant former actress stepped out looking chic in a long navy Victoria Beckham overcoat and a gray newsboy cap pulled down over her dark brown hair – and with her large diamond engagement ring clearly visible on her wedding finger.
Meghan returned to the Big Apple over the weekend to spend time with her girlfriends before the arrival of her first child this spring, and was seen on Monday evening being escorted into an SUV by a royal protection officer.
The 37-year-old royal is understood to have flown into the city on Friday for a surprise five-day trip after spending a quiet Valentine’s Day evening with her husband, Prince Harry. A spokesperson for Kensington Palace would not divulge details of the Duchess’s flights, but confirmed that as this is a private trip, her travel was ‘privately funded’.
The palace also declined to comment on Meghan’s security detail for the duration of the trip, or the plain clothes officer seen accompanying her.
The main event of the trip is a baby shower with 15 of her closest friends at a hotel on New York’s Upper East Side.
The intimate event, due to take place today, is believed to have been organised by her best friend Jessica Mulroney – who arrived in the city at the end of last week from her home in Toronto.
‘The trip is a lovely chance to catch up with friends and spend time in a city she loves. This will be the last time a lot of them will see Meg until after the baby is born so it’s nice to share precious moments,’ a source told Harper’s Bazaar.
Meghan kept her head down as she made her way to the SUV on Monday night, with her dark hair covering the side of her face. She carried a second wide-brimmed black hat – believed to be a £160 ($195) design from Rag & Bone – in her hand, along with a white bag.
Kensington Palace did not comment on the details surrounding the royal’s security detail during the trip, and it is not known whether the protection officers are being paid for privately, or by taxpayers.
Earlier this year it was announced that Meghan’s armed Scotland Yard bodyguard, who accompanied the expectant mother on her royal tour of Australia with Prince Harry last year, was quitting her post after less than a year in the role.
The inspector’s appointment as head of protection made her the first woman to hold such a key post for the royals, and she was regularly pictured guarding Meghan on overseas trips.
In January, it was revealed that protection officers tasked with guarding the Queen and other members of the royal family earned six-figure salaries in 2016/17, bringing in around $130,000 (£100,000) each, after winning a pay dispute with Scotland Yard over their ‘special escort’ allowance.
The latest accounts for the Metropolitan Police show 47 officers from the Royalty and Specialist Protection (RaSP) unit earned six-figures in 2016/2017. This is in addition to the large one-off payments given to officers after the dispute over the scrapping of escort allowance in 2012.
The Met has not disclosed the exact payments, but at least £5 million was paid out among the 47 officers, which works out at as an average of $137,512 (£106,383) each.
The visit marks the first time the Duchess of Sussex has been in the Big Apple since she said ‘I do’ to Prince Harry in May 2018, and she wasted no time before visiting some of her favourite hot spots.
Sources confirmed to Harper’s Bazaar that friends are throwing Megan a baby shower at an undisclosed Upper East Side hotel for 15 guests on Tuesday.