Meghan stuns on solo trip
NEW royal bride Meghan the Duchess of Sussex has joined the Queen at a series of events in England as she launched into life as a full-time member of the royal family.
In an extraordinary vote of confidence in the new duchess, Queen Elizabeth II invited her to join her aboard the royal train for an overnight trip to Cheshire, in northwest England.
The pair appeared at three events including a planned walkabout, to meet members of the public.
The decision by Queen Elizabeth, 92, to invite the Duchess to join her, less than a month after her wedding to Prince Harry, shows the royal family has no hesitation in using the confident and poised Meghan for public appearances
Crowds began gathering four hours ahead of their scheduled arrival in the town of Chester in the Cheshire region.
Meghan, 36, looked stunning in a fitted ivory cape dress from Givenchy with a black belt and black stiletto heels. She was carrying a black clutch bag.
The Queen wore a spring green coat by Stewart Parvin and matching hat by Rachel Trevor Morgan.
Meghan's wedding gown was also designed by Givenchy, and the UK media noted her latest outfit was reminiscent of her wedding day.
The Queen and Meghan's first event overnight after disembarking the royal train was to formally open the new Mersey Gateway Bridge, a six-lane tollway which has formed part of one of the UK's largest infrastructure projects in years.
They were greeted as they arrived at Runcorn station, where Meghan said: "I'm very happy to be here."
They met the architects and watched local schoolchildren perform before the Queen unveiled a plaque to declare the bridge (which has been open to traffic since October last year) open.
They then visited the Storyhouse cultural centre in Chester, to meet a group helping Syrian refugees, watch a performance by a dance theatre group called Fallen Angels, for people recovering from addictions, and inspect a new children's library.
The pair were sat in front of Meghan's interim private secretary, Australian Samantha Cohen. The 49-year-old is the monarch's assistant private secretary, and comes from Buckingham Palace to Kensington Palace. Meghan is being given advice from her during her first six months as a royal.
Cohen, who is a mum-of-three from Brisbane in Queensland, worked in public relations before joining the Buckingham Palace press office in 2001. She went on to the private office at the palace.
Cohen handed in her notice last September, but it has been reported she has agreed to stay on as interim private secretary.
They then took a short walk along the streets of Chester to the local town hall, where they attended a council lunch.
Members of the public handed the royals flowers as they shook hands and said hello.
After watching a performance, they took part in a minute's silence at midday local time to mark the first anniversary of the Grenfell Tower Fire disaster on the streets of Chester.
Meghan and Prince Harry are believed to have been honeymooning in Ireland after their spectacular wedding at Windsor on May 19, but returned to work last week, with both appearing on the Buckingham Palace balcony on Saturday for the Trooping the Colour parade to mark the Queen's 92nd birthday.
It is rare for one of the young royals alone to accompany the Queen on a day's outing, and even more unusual for one to be invited on the royal train.
Prince William's wife Catherine didn't join the Queen on an outing until almost a year after her 2011 marriage, when she travelled to Leicester with the Queen and Prince Philip.