The Duchess of Sussex — a.k.a. Meghan Markle — has celebrated the diversity of London at the official launch of a new cookbook, which is raising funds to support families impacted by the Grenfell fire.
Meghan’s new home, Kensington Palace, is less than two miles from Grenfell tower, where a fire in June 2017 claimed 72 lives — in a borough where wealth and poverty live side-by-side.
Meghan Markle has been making secret visits to a Grenfell community kitchen since January – today, she’s supporting a cookbook to help raise money for it.— Channel 5 News (@5_News) September 17, 2018
In a video filmed by Kensington Palace, the Duchess of Sussex is shown cooking meals alongside members of the community. pic.twitter.com/f0n5KoS1go
In her first solo project as a royal, Meghan has worked alongside women in a community kitchen in North Kensington since January, so the cookbook, Together: Our Community Cookbook, is the result of their joint efforts.
“I had just recently moved to London and I felt so immediately embraced by the women in the kitchen, the warmth, and your kindness, and also to be able to be in this city and to see in this one small room how multi-cultural it was," said Meghan, at the official launch of the book on Thursday.
“On a personal level, I feel so proud to live in a city that can have so much diversity,” she added. “This whole country is represented by the people in the kitchen. It’s pretty outstanding.”
Meghan made the comments in a speech during a garden reception at the palace on Thursday, at which she was joined by Prince Harry and her mother Doria Ragland, from California.
Women from the Hubb Community Kitchen, based at the Al Manaar Muslim Cultural Heritage Centre in North Kensington also celebrated the launch of the book, which features 50 of their favourite recipes.
Their recipes were also served at the launch, including chicken curry, aubergine masala, and a range of chapatis and sharing dips, as well as caramelised plum upside-down cake and spiced mint tea, according to Sky News.
“When you get to know the story behind the recipe, you get to know the person behind it and help us celebrate what connects us rather than divides us,” she said. “That is the ethos of Together.”
Loved-up Prince Harry smooths down Meghan's hair at the launch of the 'Together' cookbook which showcases recipes from some of those affected by the Grenfell Tower fire.#HarryandMeghan#CookTogether#MeghanMarkle#Togetherpic.twitter.com/M53D79TGde— On Demand News (@ODN) September 20, 2018
“I’m so privileged to know you,” she told the women from the kitchen. “Working on this project for the past nine months has been a tremendous labour of love.”
Meghan thanked the women for letting her work on the project with them, adding that it “took a village” to make it a reality.
“I’m so excited to see the projects we will continue to do in your community and also how you will inspire people globally by sharing your stories and your recipes,” she said. “It’s so impactful. You can see that in just a few days alone what’s happened and the book’s not out yet.”
But, as the borough of Kensington itself demonstrates, there are good sides and bad to London's diversity. The fire at Grenfell tower has been widely criticised as an outcome of the deep social divides in the borough.
Residents had reportedly voiced concerns repeatedly about the safety of the tower, including the fact there was only one escape route, and no sprinkler system. Their concerns, according to the Guardian, were "brushed away."
"Like the US and Hurricane Katrina, this country suddenly got a window into the lives of one group of the population that relies absolutely on the state for where they live, the conditions in whcih they lives, and safety and security," said MP David Lammy, following the fire.