Meghan Markle is set to finish off her surprise trip to New York in true style by attending a lavish baby shower thrown for her by Serena Williams and Amal Clooney in America’s most expensive hotel room – and $75,000-a-night penthouse suite.
It had been previously reported that the event, which is said to be the main reason for the seven-months-pregnant royal’s secret trip to the Big Apple, had taken place on Tuesday, however a source close to the 37-year-old royal claims that it is scheduled for Wednesday, shortly before Meghan is set to return to London.
Speaking to Tatler, the source revealed that the baby shower will be held in the Grand Penthouse Suite at The Mark hotel on New York’s Upper East Side, where Meghan and her friend Serena, 37, are both thought to have stayed on Tuesday evening, after enjoying dinner together at a swanky Manhattan restaurant.
Although it is not known whether Meghan has been staying in the penthouse for her entire trip – which began on Friday when she flew in from London after spending Valentine’s Day with her husband Prince Harry – the location will reportedly play host to the duchess and several of her closest pals while they celebrate the upcoming arrival of Meghan and Harry’s first child.
Described by the hotel as ‘A Castle in the Sky’, the 10,000sq ft suite boasts every luxury, including a 2,500sq ft rooftop terrace overlooking Central Park, five bedrooms, four fireplaces, six bathrooms, two powder rooms, two wet bars, a dining room, a conservatory, and a living room that can be ‘transformed into a full-size Grand Ballroom’ if desired by guests.
Ready to celebrate! Meghan Markle, pictured heading to dinner in New York City on Tuesday night, is reportedly set to attend a baby shower thrown by Serena Williams and Amal Clooney in America’s most expensive hotel room on Wednesday
Settling in: Seven-months-pregnant Meghan and Serena, both 37, were pictured making their way into The Mark hotel, which is home to the $75,000-a-night penthouse where the baby shower will take place, after their dinner on Tuesday
Lavish: The Penthouse Suite at The Mark is widely reported to be the most expensive per-night hotel room in the US, and it boasts a sprawling living area, as well as an outdoor terrace
Plenty of room! The large suite is more than capable of accommodating Meghan and 15 of her closest friends, with many reports suggesting that is how many were invited to attend the intimate celebration
Queen of the castle: The 10,000sq ft penthouse, which is described by The Mark as ‘A Castle in the Sky’ boasts a 2,500sq ft roof terrace that overlooks Central Park
Spoiled for choice: It is not known whether Meghan has been staying in the hotel suite, which boasts five bedrooms, for the duration of her trip or whether it is just being used for the baby shower
The two-story penthouse, which is located on the 16th floor of the hotel, is described on The Mark’s website as being ‘lavishly-adorned’ and ‘unprecedentedly spacious’, and features ‘majestic’ interior decor designed by legendary French interior designer Jacques Grange.
According to Tatler’s source, the location was chosen by Serena, who is a long-time fan of The Mark’s in-house restaurant, The Mark by Jean-Georges, a renowned chef whose flagship restaurant on Central Park West boasts two Michelin stars.
Helping hand: The shower is reportedly being co-hosted by Amal, 41, whose husband George spoke out to slam the media’s treatment of Meghan during a recent press event
She is not thought to have stayed at the hotel before Tuesday night, when she and Meghan were pictured returning to the location after enjoying dinner with two of the royal’s closest friends Jessica Mulroney and Markus Anderson.
Mother-of-one Serena is also said to be footing the bill for the use of the pricey hotel room, who has been a close friend of Meghan’s since they first met in 2010.
The tennis pro is said to have chosen the location after ‘visiting several other properties in the area’, according to the source.
Both Jessica, 39, and Markus are expected to attend the intimate baby shower on Wednesday, which is, according to sources, scheduled to take place at 12.30pm.
The inside source also revealed that the shower will include a host of elegant activities, kicking off with a flower arranging lesson that will be accompanied by a variety of delicious desserts prepared especially by the hotel restaurant’s head chef, Jean-Georges Vongerichten.
Jean-Georges himself is also set to be present at the start of the event, and will greet Meghan and her guests upon their arrival in the suite.
As well as the two hosts, the guests at the event are expected to include newly-engaged designer Misha Nonoo, who visited Meghan at The Mark on Tuesday, and who is credited with setting Meghan and Harry up on their first date, hairstylist Serge Normant, who did the royal bride’s hair for her wedding, publicist Celine Khavarani, and NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment Group chairman Bonnie Hammer.
Meghan is also thought to have invited a few friends from her Hollywood days, including her former Suits co-star Abigail Spencer, who spent the afternoon with the royal on Tuesday, joining her for a quick jaunt to the Met Breuer, before the duo enjoyed lunch together at swanky Upper East Side hotel The Surrey.
The Vampire Diaries star Janina Gavankar, another close actress pal of the duchess, is also believed to be attending the shower, as well as some of Meghan’s friends from her Northwestern University days, Lindsay Roth, and Genevieve Hills.
Spacious: The main living room, which boasts 26ft ceilings, can be ‘transformed into a full-sized Grand Ballroom’ according to The Mark’s website
Options: The ‘unprecedentedly spacious penthouse’ has six bathrooms and two powder rooms
Views: There is also a conservatory in the penthouse, meaning that Meghan and her guests will be able to enjoy the impressive views from the comfort of the suite, instead of facing the chilly weather
Amenities: As well as being filled with stunning flowers, furniture and pieces of art, the penthouse also has its own kitchen (right), that comes complete with multiple ovens and a wine fridge
Relaxation: The penthouse features multiple common areas where Meghan and her guests can sit and relax, including a Library Lounge that has plenty of books stacked up for patrons to enjoy
It had originally been suggested that Meghan’s long-time friend Jessica was spear-heading the organization of the event, however Tatler’s source says that it is officially being co-hosted by Serena and Amal, 41, who attended Meghan and Harry’s wedding along with her husband George, who recently spoke out to blast the media’s treatment of the pregnant duchess during a press conference.
The human rights lawyer has not yet been publicly pictured with Meghan, or at her hotel, since the royal’s arrival in New York, however.
On Tuesday evening, Meghan was pictured heading out to Ralph Lauren’s swanky restaurant The Polo Bar on Tuesday night alongside fellow mothers Serena and Jessica, perhaps finalizing plans for the lavish baby shower set to take place today.
Despite a busy day spent catching up with friends, Meghan looked fresh-faced and full of energy as she arrived at the high-end eatery – which is also known to be a favorite of President Donald Trump’s, and is located just a few block’s from his tower on Fifth Avenue.
The party spent three hours inside the restaurant before stepping back out into the chilly New York night. Meghan and Serena were then spotted arriving back at their lavish hotel, The Mark, on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.
Jessica, a Canadian stylist who has been helping best friend Meghan with her outfit choices for years and has three children: twins Brian and John, aged eight, and daughter Isabel, aged five. Serena has a one daughter, Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr, aged one.
On the town! On Tuesday evening, the 37-year-old royal was pictured heading to dinner at Ralph Lauren’s restaurant The Polo Bar alongside Serena, Jessica Mulroney, and Soho House consultant Markus Anderson
Beaming: Meghan positively glowed as she made her way into the restaurant, which is known to be one of President Donald Trump’s favorite eateries, and is located just a few blocks from his tower on Fifth Avenue
Gal pals! The pregnant royal was joined by mother-of-one Serena, 37, who looked trendy in her low-key outfit of black jeans, a black sweater, and a long black jacket with fun pink plaid detailing on the sleeves and sides
Strutting her stuff! Meghan’s unofficial stylist and GMA fashion correspondent Jessica Mulroney was also in attendance at the dinner, flaunting her fashionable taste in a chic ensemble that featured a $890 plaid Mackage coat with a leather belt
Here we go: Markus, who is thought to have had a hand in setting up Meghan and Prince Harry, linked arms with his royal pal to walk alongside her as they headed into the restaurant together
Mother-to-be Meghan looked every inch the glamorous royal as she made her way into the restaurant, escorted by the same group of burly officers from the State Department and royal protection officers.
The pregnant duchess recycled the same $3,085 (£2,250) navy Victoria Beckham coat that she was seen wearing in images published exclusively by DailyMail.com on Monday evening – the first photos taken of Meghan since she arrived in the Big Apple on Friday evening.
She paired the chic double-breasted coat with a black scarf, a pair of black satin boots – thought to be from Isabel Marant – and a $1,140 (£915) black chain-handle handbag by vegan designer Stella McCartney.
Meghan also modeled a much more glamorous makeup look than she had been seen wearing during the day, modeling a dark smokey eyeshadow, while emphasizing her natural pregnancy glow with some highlighter and bronzer.
As the former actress climbed out of her SUV – which appeared to be the same State Department vehicle she has been using all day – she couldn’t help but flash a wide smile, no doubt at the prospect of spending an evening with some of her closest pals, many of whom live an ocean away from the royal’s home with Prince Harry at Kensington Palace.
Style star: The pregnant duchess wore the same $3,085 (£2,250) navy Victoria Beckham coat that she was seen in on Monday night when she was pictured for the first time since arriving in New York on Friday night
Something she said? Meghan appeared to share a joke with one of the female officers protecting her, who was seen smiling widely as she waiting for the royal to exit her SUV
Meghan’s husband may well have been in her mind however thanks to the choice of venue.
Not only is The Polo Bar known to be a much-loved celebrity haunt, the restaurant is also themed entirely around the popular equestrian sport from which it takes its name, a sport that Prince Harry has been playing for decades.
Meghan and Serena have actually watched one of Harry’s polo matches together, along with the tennis pro’s husband Alexis Ohanian, who joined the two women to cheer on the prince in the Audi Polo Challenge in Oxfordshire back in July, not long after Meghan and Harry tied the knot.
And there would have been plenty of reminders of that fun summer day inside the restaurant.
In the main dining room, which is located downstairs, diners are met with a myriad of equestrian-themed artworks that cover the walls, while riding helmets and polo mallets can be found hanging on hooks near the bathroom, just waiting for a few social media-savvy patrons to pose for a photo or two.
After spending three hours inside The Polo Bar, Meghan left with Serena (far right) as well as her royal protection officers, and security from the State Department who had been with her all day
She flashed the engagement ring Prince Harry gave her as she pulled back her hair on leaving the restaurant
Meghan is enjoying her final social events during her trip to New York before she heads off to Morocco with Harry for a royal engagement over the weekend. She is seen above returning to her hotel from dinner
She looked up from her hand towards a waiting crowd of fans and photographers as she finished the short trip back to her hotel, a few blocks away from The Polo Bar
Upstairs, the is an intimate bar area, where diners can enjoy one of the many cocktails on the extensive menu, which not only features classic cocktails like the Moscow Mule and the Old Fashioned, it also boasts a number of signature reserve cocktails, including the Jockey Club and the Improved Negroni.
There is even a drink on the menu named after Meghan’s father-in-law, the Prince of Wales, a $22 drink that is made of High West Rendezvous Rye, Cherry Heering, honey, pineapple, and Champagne.
The restaurant also boasts an extensive wine list, featuring bottles from around the world, including a particularly pricey $18,000 1891 Brunello di Montalcino.
As for the food, which was no doubt pregnant Meghan’s focus, as opposed to the alcohol offerings, The Polo Bar boasts a host of classic American dishes, from a house chopped salad that retails for $18 to a 16oz New York strip steak, which costs $55.
The restaurant even has its own signature hot dog, the $20 RRL Hot Dog, which comes complete with sauerkraut, sweet relish and mustard, all served on a toasted brioche bun.
Straight-faced: Serena, 37, failed to raise a smile as she walked from her car to the luxury Fifth Avenue venue, carrying a small MCM purse in her left hand and pulling her black jacket across her body with the other
Say cheese? The tennis pro did not appear particularly impressed to see photographers waiting, and she kept her eyes trained on the ground, rather than smiling for the cameras like her friend Meghan
Style star: Mother-of-one Serena completed her look for the evening with a pair of chunky military-style black boots
Meghan kept under wraps as she made the short walk from her car to the doors of the hotel
Having opened in early 2015, The Polo Bar quickly became one of New York’s most popular eateries for high-profile diners, and has played host to everyone from Hillary Clinton to Gwyneth Paltrow.
President Trump, Melania, and their son Barron also enjoyed dinner at the eatery back in June 2016, the night before Donald’s 70th birthday, and just a few months before he went on to win the presidential election against Clinton.
Meghan’s evening outing came after a busy day of activities for the royal, which started early in the afternoon when she was seen leaving high-end New York hotel The Mark to enjoy an afternoon out.
The seven-months pregnant royal was seen cradling her baby bump as she made her way to Met Breuer museum, which is located just a few blocks away from The Mark hotel – with her former Suits co-star Abigail Spencer joining her for the quick city jaunt.
Moments earlier, Meghan was pictured walking out of the five-star hotel at 1:05 pm, once again keeping a hand rested on her growing bump, surrounded by armed officers thought to be from the State Department, as well as several plain clothes royal protection officers, just moments after her close friend and former Suits co-star Abigail Spencer was pictured making her way into the venue.
Taking advantage of what is a bright and sunny day in the Big Apple, Meghan wore a vintage gray Courrèges coat for her surprise outing, pairing the outerwear with some skinny black jeans, and some nude suede heels.
She accessorized her ensemble with a pair of dark sunglasses, which hid much of her face from the cameras, and was seen carrying a dove-gray handbag in the crook of her right arm, while the other hand was planted firmly on her large bump.
Fashion favorite: Jessica looked effortlessly chic in her plaid coat, wide-legged trousers and black sweater
Easy going: The mother-of-three, who is based in Toronto with her children and her husband Ben, had her long brunette locks pulled back from her face, and she wore very simple makeup, focusing on long eyelashes to accentuate her blue eyes
Going her own way: Jessica is not thought to have arrived with Meghan, but instead appears to have made her own way to the restaurant, before meeting her friend
Legs on show: Meghan does not appear to have traveled to the restaurant with all of her friends, however she and Markus were seen walking in together, with the pregnant royal holding her hands up near her belly
Meghan was accompanied on the trip by what appeared to be several members of hotel security, as well as a handful of plain clothes police officers, including the same man seen escorting the mother-to-be out of a Manhattan apartment on Monday evening.
Other than her impressive security detail, the royal appeared to be along as she made her way past photographers and into a waiting SUV, which had Department of State license plates.
From there, she traveled the two-block distance to the Met Breuer museum, arriving at 1:10 pm, and was pictured spending time in the restaurant after her arrival, however a source revealed that she also found time during her 30-minute visit to take in some of the museum’s artworks during a tour around one of the galleries, noting that the Duchess ‘looked beautiful’ during her visit.
Abigail Spencer (left) and Jessica Mulroney (right) are seen leaving The Polo Bar after having dinner with Meghan
The pair were all smiles as they walked out of the midtown Manhattan restaurant on a chilly night
However a source at the museum told DailyMail.com that Meghan was initially supposed to have lunch at the Met Breuer, but made a last-minute change of plans because the venue was felt to be ‘too public’ thanks to the large windows in the restaurant, which make it easily viewable from the street outside.
Because of this, Meghan, Abigail, and their entourage of protection officers, chose a more secure, private location for the royal to enjoy more of an incognito lunch – The Surrey hotel.
Meghan’s very brief trip to the Met Breuer was enough to provide a bit of excitement and intrigue for some however, with a few social media users sharing their shock at running into her in the art gallery – with one person revealing that they bumped into the duchess in the bathroom.
‘I went to see Julio le Parc at the Met Breuer and also ran into Meghan Markle in the bathroom,’ Instagram user Ashley Toth wrote, while sharing an image of one of le Parc’s pieces. Ashley then saw the duchess again while ‘walking home’, sharing an image of Meghan and Abigail exiting The Surrey hotel.
Actress Abigail, also 37, also joined the royal at the museum, before the pair left together to walk the short distance across the street to The Surrey hotel – another high-end establishment that has played host to a slew of high-profile clients, from JFK to Bette Davis.
Chic: The Polo Bar boasts a sprawling downstairs dining room that affords patrons plenty of privacy from the outside world, while allowing them the opportunity to enjoy numerous equestrian-themed works of art
Memories! No doubt the theme of the restaurant brought back fond memories for Meghan, whose husband Prince Harry, seen in June, has been a keen polo player since he was a young boy, as are his father Prince Charles, and brother Prince William
Close bond: Meghan has seen her fair share of polo matches since starting her romance with Prince Harry, and always appears happy to lend her support at the side of the field, as she did back in July
Meghan and Abigail were flanked by two of the same royal protection officers seen escorting Meghan out of The Mark, with Meghan walking just a few paces ahead of her friend, flashing her three-diamond engagement ring as she placed her hand on her baby bump while crossing the road.
Suits star Abigail was wearing the same red patterned shirt dress that she was seen modeling when she arrived at the hotel earlier on, but she had abandoned the gray beanie that she sported with it; she also traded the thick fur-trim parka she had been sporting, in favor of a more lightweight black jacket, allowing her to show off more of her colorful dress.
The duo spent just over an hour at The Surrey, perhaps taking the time to enjoy a light lunch.
At approximately 3pm, the friends were seen leaving the hotel in order to make the very short journey back to The Mark, arriving around three minutes later – presumably just in time to start getting ready for the main event of the day, Meghan’s bridal shower.
Shortly after their return, newly-engaged designer Misha Nonoo – the woman credited with introducing Prince Harry and Meghan – was seen arriving at The Mark, having spent much of the day at her studio in NoHo, before going to join her royal pal.
It is a double celebration for Misha, 34, who got engaged to oil mogul Michael ‘Mikey’ Hess, 32, during a Valentine’s vacation in Mexico, with the groom-to-be proudly sharing the happy news on social media, before the designer was seen wearing her dazzling new diamond ring while out and about in New York on Tuesday.
That same ring was front and center as Misha made her way into The Mark, wearing the same chic, but low-key, outfit that she was pictured modeling earlier in the day, when she left her Manhattan apartment in the morning, and when she stepped out to grab a salad for lunch.
The bride-to-be bundled up against the chilly New York weather in a dark blue overcoat, black tights, and a bright red scarf, finishing the look off with a pair of heeled black ankle boots.
Misha was also seen carrying her iPhone, and a small personalized red purse that had her initials MN embossed on the bottom corner.
Time for some culture: Earlier in the day, Meghan spent time enjoying the sights and sounds of the Upper East Side, including a trip to the Met Breuer art museum
Swapping it up: The royal reportedly wanted to have lunch at the Met Breuer, however the museum’s restaurant was deemed ‘too public’ because of its vast windows that could be seen from the street, a source told DailyMail.com
Outing: After visiting the Met Breuer, Meghan and her former Suits co-star (pictured to the right) walked across the street from the museum to another hotel – this time The Surrey, another high-end venue located just a stone’s throw from The Mark
Gal pals: Meghan and Abigail are thought to have enjoyed a spot of lunch at The Surrey, before leaving the high-end hotel and making their way back to The Mark
Ready to party! Meghan arrived back at The Mark shortly after 3pm
Although Meghan managed to spend a few hours away from the hotel, the venue was still alight with feverish activity even in her absence, with crowds gathering outside its main entrance in the hopes of catching a glimpse of the duchess, one of her close friends and guests – or at the very least one of the many fascinating deliveries arriving ahead of her shower on Wednesday.
Abigail was the first of the royal’s nearest and dearest to be seen making their way into The Mark hotel on New York’s Upper East Side – trying to maintain a low profile by wearing a gray beanie hat and large, dark sunglasses as she made her way inside, flashing a wave at the waiting photographers on her way in.
She spent just a few minutes in the hotel, taking the time to change up her outfit slightly, before heading out again to join Meghan at the Met Breuer.
Abigail first sparked speculation that she had traveled to the Big Apple for the special occasion after sharing an airport selfie on her Instagram account on Monday – less than 24 hours before she was seen making her way into The Mark, shortly after bouquets of flowers, an orange tree, and a $380 travel crib were seen being delivered to the swanky venue.
As well as her shades and hat, the actress was dressed in a thick black parka with a fur-lined hood upon her arrival, showing off just a hint of the more colorful, stylish pink dress seen poking out from underneath the thick winterwear.
Although the rest of the guest list for the event is not yet confirmed, there are two people close to Meghan who are likely not going to be in attendance – including her beloved mother Doria Ragland, 62, who was pictured walking her dog at home in Los Angeles on Tuesday, while her daughter was preparing for the swanky event.
Meghan’s close pal and fellow screen star Priyanka Chopra, who was a guest at the former Suits star’s wedding to Prince Harry, all but confirmed that she would not be attending the baby shower, when she posted a selfie on her Instagram account on Tuesday afternoon, and listed Beverly Hills, California, as the geographical location of the snap.
Indeed, other than Misha and Abigail, none of Meghan’s other more high-profile pals – including the likes of Jessica Mulroney and Serena Williams – were pictured arriving at the hotel during the day, however it is possible they chose to stay at the pricey venue, and therefore did not have to venture out ahead of the shower.
Suits star Sarah Rafferty, brand consultant Benita Litt, and college pal Lindsay Roth were also among the friends who were believed to be attending Meghan’s shower, however as of 6pm on Tuesday evening, they had not been seen outside the hotel.
Spotted! A couple of social media users revealed that they had seen Meghan at the museum, with one, Ashley Toth, admitting that she had bumped into the royal in the bathroom, the saw her again outside The Surrey not long after
On the move! After strolling across the road from the Met Breuer, Meghan and Abigail made their way inside The Surrey, another high-end hotel that has played host to a slew of high-profile clients, including JFK and Bette Davis
Here come the guests! Just after the duo’s return, newly-engaged designer Misha Nonoo – the woman credited with introducing Prince Harry and Meghan – was seen making her way into The Mark
Meanwhile, pilates instructor Heather Dorak, another close friend who attended the royal wedding, welcomed her second child, a baby boy named Cody Cohen, on Valentine’s Day, which presumably left her unable to attend the event.
It was thought that Priyanka – who, like Meghan spent Valentine’s Day in the UK – might have joined the royal on her trip over to the Big Apple in time for the shower, but it now appears that is not the case.
Meghan did manage to make a very under-the-radar arrival in the city however, going almost entirely unseen by the public over the weekend, after reportedly arriving on Friday evening.
On Monday night, the duchess attempted to go incognito as she covered up in a cap and 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 palace declined to comment on Meghan’s security detail for the duration of the trip, or the plain clothes officer seen accompanying her.
Meghan 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 personal trip, her travel was ‘privately funded’.
It is not known whether Meghan flew to New York on a commercial flight, or whether she was lucky enough to travel in a private jet.
The royal certainly has her fair share of high-profile pals who may have been able to secure her access to a private plane; TV mogul Oprah, who was in attendance at the royal wedding, and is said to have formed a close bond with Meghan’s mother Doria, owns a private jet, and once said of the plane that it was incredibly useful for making the exact trip that the Duchess of Sussex made on Friday.
‘I would say having your own airplane is the greatest luxury,’ Oprah told British Vogue editor Edward Enninful during a 2018 interview, before adding: ‘Because it means one minute you’re in New York, and then the next minute you say, “You know Edward, I think I’ll fly to London.”‘
Caught up! Several people were seen making their way into the hotel either shortly before or after Meghan’s return, however it is thought that a number of them were guests arriving for a stay, rather than attendees of the royals’ baby shower
Lightweight! There were a few people seen arriving without suitcases in tow, suggesting that they were there for something less long-term than a hotel stay, and were perhaps lucky enough to be attending the shower
Gifts for the baby? One woman was pictured arriving at The Mark with two large bags from Crate & Barrel, which may well have been filled with presents for expectant mother Meghan
Her fellow royal wedding guests David and Victoria Beckham regularly travel via private jet with their family, as does George Clooney, another attendee at Meghan and Harry’s stunning ceremony back in May.
A private jet would certainly have made for a more comfortable flying experience for the pregnant duchess, who is expecting her first child in the spring, and is believed to be just a matter of weeks away from her due date.
Despite being so far along in her pregnancy, Meghan is still perfectly safe to fly, according to advice offered by the Mayo Clinic, which suggests that expectant mothers can continue to travel via air until they are 36-weeks along; Meghan is currently thought to be in week 29 or 30 of her pregnancy.
And Prince Harry certainly doesn’t seem to have any qualms about flying privately; the father-to-be actually chartered himself a jet to the tune of $26,100 (£20,000) in order to return home from Norway on February 14 so that he could spend his first Valentine’s Day as a married man with his pregnant wife.
The duke made his round trip in a double-engine Cessna Citation Excel for the three-hour visit to the Bardufoss air station, 200 miles (322km) within the Arctic Circle. The state-of-the-art 18ft plane flies in and out of smaller airports while offering ‘the comfort and amenities of a midsize cabin jet’ according to Cessna.
A direct chartered flight on the Citation Excel – based on a seven-hour round trip from Farnborough to Bardufoss, where Harry was traveling to and from, for seven people – would cost between $23,000 (£18,200) and $28,000 (£21,450) according to Luxaviation.
Last October, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex were caught up in a mid-air scare when their private jet was hit by lightning.
The couple was travelling to an opening party in Amsterdam when their luxury Dassault Falcon 7X was reportedly struck.
A bolt of lightning struck the nose cone, narrowly avoiding the navigation equipment. Around 30million volts surged through the plane’s fuselage.
After the dramatic scare, the plane – which would have set the Duke and Duchess back around $26,100 (£20,000) for a return flight to Amsterdam – managed to land safely at Schiphol Airport.
Honored guests: Meghan’s close friend and former co-star Abigail Spencer was arriving at The Mark hotel shortly before the royal was pictured leaving the venue
Special delivery! Her arrival comes shortly after flowers were seen being delivered to The Mark on Tuesday afternoon, prompting furious speculation that the Upper East Side hotel will play host to Meghan’s baby shower
For luck: An orange tree was also seen being delivered to the hotel ahead of the baby shower; in Eastern tradition, mandarin oranges are believed to represent prosperity, happiness and luck, particularly in the New Year
Step aside! As well as the flowers, staff at the hotel were also seen wheeling in a large box housing a $379 travel crib, which may well have been a gift for the duchess, or a prop for the party
According to Private Fly, it could cost anywhere between $78,376 (£60,000) and $379,000 (£290,000) to charter a return flight on a private jet from London to New York, depending on the size and make of the plane, and the number of days it was required to be on call.
And while it has not been confirmed whether or not Meghan flew on a private plane, the trip certainly seems to have been focused around ensuring that the mother-to-be was as relaxed and happy as possible. Her low-key itinerary is said to have already included shopping and plenty of good food, but 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.
On her way! Abigail first sparked speculation that she was headed to Meghan’s baby shower when she shared this image of herself with a suitcase on Instagram on Monday
The intimate event, due to take place today, is believed to have been organized 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.
But while the Duchess of Sussex appeared to be making an attempt to go under the radar in her low-key ensemble, the large diamond engagement ring on her wedding finger was unmistakable.
Her husband had the three-stone design made for her especially ahead of their engagement in 2017, using one diamond that he sourced in Botswana, where the couple holidayed together early on in their relationship.
The dazzling design was clearly visible as Meghan made her way down the steps and into the car, carrying her spare hat and a simple white bag that may well have contained a gift.
Her nails appeared to be painted with a subtle sheer pink shade – a much more low-key polish option than some of the darker, bolder colours she has been known to model, despite royal traditions suggesting that only the most subtle of nude shades should be worn.
In her other arm, the expectant mother had a large gray leather handbag held in the crook of her elbow.
Incognito: Meghan Markle was seen stepping out in New York City on Monday evening after flying into the city to attend a baby shower organized by her closest friends
Helping hand: A bodyguard escorted the royal down a small flight of stairs during the outing, and was seen guiding the mother-to-be towards a waiting SUV
Catching up: This trip is thought to be the last one that Meghan (pictured left and right with her husband in London last week) will make to the US before the birth of her child in a few months
The bodyguard who escorted her to her waiting vehicle also appeared to be carrying a few of her possessions, including a Lululemon tote bag that was covered with Meghan’s tan wool coat, suggesting the royal may have had more than one outfit option on-hand.
Meghan appeared to be going out of her way to remain unrecognizable during the short walk to the SUV, keeping her head lowered, and her hair pulled across her face – a far cry from the smiling, hands-on appearances for which she has become known at pubic events.
Her bodyguard also attempted to blend in, wearing a pair of charcoal-gray trousers, and a quilted blue coat with a hood. He also carried a phone in his hand, along with Meghan’s belongings.
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.
No show: Meghan’s friend Priyanka Chopra all but confirmed that she would not be attending the shower when she posted this image of herself on Instagram on Tuesday afternoon, and tagged the location as Beverly Hills, California
Her hands are full! Pilates instructor Heather Dorak, another friend who attended the royal wedding, welcomed a child on Valentine’s Day, which presumably left her unable to attend the shower
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 favorite 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, the day before she leaves.
Jessica Mulroney, Meghan’s close friend and unofficial stylist, is thought to not only be attending the shower, but also helping to spear-head the organization of the intimate event. The GMA fashion expert is also thought to have had a hand in helping Meghan with the planning of her wedding to Prince Harry.
Although no other members of Meghan’s inner circle confirmed any details about the shower, sources have told Harper’s Bazaar that the royal wanted the opportunity to spend time with her closest friends in one of her favorite cities before the birth of her first child, which is due in just a matter of months.
‘The trip is a lovely chance to catch up with friends and spend time in a city she loves,’ a source told the outlet.
‘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.’
But while the trip may have come as a surprise to some, according to the unidentified friend of the royal’s, Meghan’s visit to the Big Apple was actually planned months ago.
‘It’s been a relaxing visit. Nothing beats face time with your friends,’ the person added. ‘Meg will be flying home refreshed and relaxed – and with a lot of new baby clothes.’
Meghan joined Jessica at Ladurée in SoHo on Saturday to enjoy macarons and tea in one of the location’s private spaces, according to Harper’s Bazaar.
Although Jessica is based in Canada, she arrived in New York late last week to film some style segments for Good Morning America, after being named the show’s newest fashion contributor in late 2018.
Way back when: Meghan Markle once did a photo shoot for fashion brand Tod’s in the ornate French restaurant
Big Apple fun: A source said the trip is a chance for Meghan to ‘catch up with friends and spend time in a city she loves.’ The former actress is pictured in New York City in 2016
Royal return: The visit marks the first time Meghan has been in the Big Apple since she said ‘I do’ to Prince Harry in May 2018. The couple is expecting their first child this spring
The decision to visit Ladurée may well have been Meghan’s however, as the known foodie once took part in a photo shoot for Tod’s in the ornately decorated French restaurant.
In an image from the shoot, she is seen sitting in the New York tourist hotspot, wearing a patterned suit, a white shirt, and a pair of silver Tod’s loafers with fringing detail on the front.
Her makeup for the shoot was rather more glamorous than the subtle, natural looks she seems to prefer now; in the photo, Meghan can be seen modeling a bright pink lip, and dark, smokey eyes, while staring right into the lens with a very serious expression on her face.
But it seems the somewhat unimpressed look she was making in the shot does not reflect her feelings about the French eatery, which is famed for its colorful confections and wide variety of teas, as well as its elegant interior.
The Duchess also praised the restaurant in an interview with writer Barry Samaha.
‘I love Ladurée in SoHo,’ she said. ‘It’s like a little slice of Paris in the middle of New York City.
‘It is absolutely beautiful, and the courtyard is awesome,’ she added. ‘Everyone should get the Coupe SoHo, which is this amazing salted caramel ice cream. It’s delicious!’
And it’s not just Ladurée that holds a special place in Meghan’s heart; the Duchess spoke on a number of occasions about her love for New York City and its many restaurants, bars, hotels, and shops, even giving the website Citiphile a full rundown of her favorite spots back while she was still starring as Rachel Zane in Suits.
During the interview with the site, Meghan referenced several much-loved New York establishments, including the Marlton Hotel, Italian eatery Babbo, piano bar Marie’s Crisis, and West Village favorite Fedora – which she praised for its dirty martinis.
But according to sources, when Meghan isn’t indulging in pastries from Ladurée, she will be spending much of her time enjoying the many amenities at the undisclosed five-star hotel where she is believed to be staying for the duration of her trip.
The day before she flew to New York, Meghan enjoyed a quiet Valentine’s Day evening with Prince Harry, their first as a married couple.