Meghan Markle made the most of her last day as a senior working royal in the U.K.
Before attending the Commonwealth Service on Monday with her husband Prince Harry, the Duchess of Sussex attended a meeting at Buckingham Palace with the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU) — one of her royal patronages.
For Harry and Meghan, their last days as senior royals offered the opportunity to tie things up with several of their patronages. “There is a lot of goodwill—everybody’s really reassured, as the couple has gone out of their way to let everyone know that they aren’t abandoning anyone,” a royal insider tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue.
Meghan, 38, met with a group of Commonwealth and Chevening scholars as well as an ACU Blue Charter Fellow. Members of the group hailed from 11 different Commonwealth countries, including Malawi, India, Cameroon, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Pakistan, Ghana, Rwanda, Kenya, Malaysia and Sri Lanka.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex / Chris Allerton
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex / Chris Allerton Meghan Markle
Meghan spoke with academics studying and researching important topics, such as cleaning up plastic pollution in the oceans, building more sustainable cities, improving health outcomes for citizens, and supporting decent work and economic growth.
As the students split into four groups (climate and the environment, sustainable cities, health innovation and technology), Meghan noted that they all had one thing in common.
“Even though the groups are divided, everyone is connected because of this very holistic approach to tackling climate change,” she said. “I love how solution based you all are.”
Timothy Biswick, a University of Leicester research fellow from Malawi, said, “I’m impressed with what she has been saying here. She knows what she’s talking about. It’s not just coming here and listening to us, she knows what she’s talking about in terms of climate change.” He added, “She was talking about things in quite some detail so you know that this person knows what they are talking about and are passionate about it.”
Joanna Newman, Secretary General of the ACU, said: “One of the joys of the duchess being a patron has been her understanding of the value of higher education and her own experience of having been a student on a scholarship, her own experience of being a student doing international studies and also studying abroad for part of her degree.”
Before Meghan entered the room, Newman told the group: “You are all going to have a short period of time with our patron. She’s really interested in the work that we’re doing, she’s incredibly supportive. She is herself a scholar from the university where she got a scholarship, so she understands the importance of scholarships. And she’s been a real champion of the work that universities do.”
The Duchess of Sussex has been a strong advocate of accessible education for all, being a college graduate from Northwestern University who benefitted from scholarship support herself.
Meghan took on the role of Royal Patron of The Association of Commonwealth Universities in January 2019, succeeding Queen Elizabeth, who had been the patron for 33 years before.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle
Harry and Meghan made their last official joint royal appearance on Monday as they joined Kate Middleton, Prince William and the rest of the royal family for the annual Commonwealth Service at Westminster Abbey.
Meghan and Harry arrived to the service first by car. Kate and William followed close behind in a separate car. Unlike in years past, the two couples were not part of the Queen’s procession, and were instead led to their seats before the Queen, Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall made their entrance.
Prince William, Kate Middleton, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle
As William and Kate took their seats in the front row, Meghan gave them a little wave as she and Harry smiled and said hello to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
The two couples didn’t appear to say goodbye to each other, exiting in the procession without saying a word then leaving in separate cars after greeting dignitaries on their way out.
Can’t get enough of PEOPLE‘s Royals coverage? Sign up for our free Royals newsletter to get the latest updates on Kate Middleton, Meghan Markle and more!
The royal family reunion was four months in the making, as the two couples hadn’t been seen together since they stepped out for Remembrance Day events in November.
Harry and Meghan made their return to the U.K. last week as they set out on a final round of royal engagements before they officially step down as working royals on March 31. They have since returned to Canada, where they have been staying with their 10-month-old son Archie.