Prince Harry makes surprise appearance as Meghan Markle announces 40th birthday project

·Royal Correspondent
·5-min read

Watch: Harry crashes Meghan's call with Melissa McCarthy in birthday video

Meghan Markle has launched a new initiative to support women back into work to mark her 40th birthday.

Prince Harry 'gatecrashed' a video message she filmed with actor Melissa McCarthy to launch 40x40, a project to encourage women to mentor unemployed women who lost their jobs during the pandemic.

Meghan calls McCarthy in the video, and the actor offers suggestions of what to do for her 40th birthday including a yacht party or afternoon tea with their chickens.

McCarthy also suggests she arranges a Suits reunion - though former actor Meghan is quick to rebuff the idea.

Meghan then tells McCarthy of the millions of women in the US and around the world who lost their jobs in the pandemic, and asks women to consider offering 40 minutes of their time to mentor someone back into the workplace.

Harry, 36, makes two brief appearances at the end of the video in the window of the couple's mansion in California, as he appears to attempt to juggle.

On Wednesday, the Duchess of Sussex's team at Archewell, the non-profit she runs with husband Prince Harry, announced 40x40, saying she had learnt that time is "among our greatest and most essential gift".

Screengrab taken from undated handout video issued by Archewell showing the Duchess of Sussex talking with actress Melissa McCarthy during a video released on her 40th birthday to launch 40×40, a global project to encourage people around the world to commit to giving 40 minutes of their time to support women going back to work. The duchess has asked 40 activists, athletes, artists and world leaders to participate by contributing 40 minutes of mentorship to women re-entering the workforce. Issue date: Wednesday August 4, 2021.
The Duchess of Sussex talking with actress Melissa McCarthy during a video released on her 40th birthday to launch 40×40. (PA/Archewell)
Prince Harry makes a surprise appearance in the video - and their beagle Guy gets a lot of screen time. (Archewell)
Prince Harry makes a surprise appearance in the video - and their beagle Guy gets a lot of screen time. (Archewell)

Read more: Queen leads birthday wishes to Meghan Markle as duchess turns 40

In an article posted on the Archewell website she wrote: "Amongst the most valuable gifts of time is also time spent in service to others knowing that it can contribute to incredible change. 

"To that last point, and with my 40th lap around the sun in mind, it made me wonder: what would happen if we all committed 40 minutes to helping someone else or to mentoring someone in need? And then what would happen if we asked our friends to do the same?"

She continued: "I believe mentorship is one way to help women regain confidence and rebuild their economic strength, and for my birthday, I have asked 40 friends, activists, athletes, artists, and world leaders to help kickoff a global effort by contributing 40 minutes of mentorship to support women re-entering the workforce. 

"With this time, I hope they each help someone advance a professional life on her own terms, and, I hope that they inspire countless others to give 40 minutes of their time as well."

Meghan has already signed up mentors including Adele, Amanda Gorman, Amanda Nguyen, Deepak Chopra, Dr. Ibram X. Kendi, Gloria Steinem, José Andrés, Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, and Stella McCartney.

Meghan looks relaxed in the video, her long hair scraped in a bun with strands around her face, as she wears a cream and white ensemble.

The duchess sips tea from a cup and saucer in the video, identified as a Burleigh pottery set, made by traditional methods in Stoke-on-Trent, perhaps signifying an ongoing connection to the UK.

Screengrab taken from undated handout video issued by Archewell showing the Duchess of Sussex talking with actress Melissa McCarthy during a video released on her 40th birthday to launch 40×40, a global project to encourage people around the world to commit to giving 40 minutes of their time to support women going back to work. The duchess has asked 40 activists, athletes, artists and world leaders to participate by contributing 40 minutes of mentorship to women re-entering the workforce. Issue date: Wednesday August 4, 2021.
Meghan sipped tea from a cup and saucer made by a British company. (PA/Archewell)
Meghan was not impressed at the Suit reunion idea. (Archewell)
Meghan was not impressed at the Suits reunion idea. (Archewell)

Read more: Harry and Meghan discussed move to New Zealand more than a year before royal exit

The video is the longest and most casual appearance from Meghan for a while, with most other video appearances being far more formal.

She sat down with Oprah Winfrey for a long interview in March, though that appearance featured more relaxed moments in the garden too, including feeding the chickens.

But other videos have been more serious, like her appeal for donations for vaccines which was made ahead of the Vax Live concert earlier this year.

Sharing the video on Instagram after the release, McCarthy wrote "Meghan is amazing" and asked who "stuck around" for the end of the video.

Referencing a joke she made about getting matching tattoos with the duchess, she said: "For more info on our tattoo... stay tuned."

Screengrab taken from undated handout video issued by Archewell showing actress Melissa McCarthy talking with the Duchess of Sussex during a video released on her 40th birthday to launch 40×40, a global project to encourage people around the world to commit to giving 40 minutes of their time to support women going back to work. The duchess has asked 40 activists, athletes, artists and world leaders to participate by contributing 40 minutes of mentorship to women re-entering the workforce. Issue date: Wednesday August 4, 2021.
Melissa McCarthy joked with the Duchess of Sussex about getting tattoos with besties forever written on it. (PA/Archewell)
Screengrab taken from undated handout video issued by Archewell showing the Duchess of Sussex blowing out a candle on a cake during a video released on her 40th birthday to launch 40×40, a global project to encourage people around the world to commit to giving 40 minutes of their time to support women going back to work. The duchess has asked 40 activists, athletes, artists and world leaders to participate by contributing 40 minutes of mentorship to women re-entering the workforce. Issue date: Wednesday August 4, 2021.
Meghan blew out a candle on a simple and elegant cake at the end of the video. (PA/Archewell)

The 40x40 project was accidentally announced early by Meghan's friend Edward Enninful, who is the editor of British Vogue.

He shared two pictures on Instagram and later deleted them, replacing it with one picture of him with Meghan when she edited Vogue in 2019.

At the time he posted, the Archewell URL included in the pictures did not work, leading to a 404 page.

Enninful shared a graphic which showed the words: "For women who give everything, we give our time.

"Are you in?"

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Read more: Diana and Sarah Ferguson would have 'thrown granny parties' with bouncy castles

The graphic used some of the letters to spell out forty in an acrostic style.

It was reported earlier this week that Meghan would be celebrating her birthday with a party planned by Colin Cowie, who is an events organiser who works frequently with Meghan's friend Oprah Winfrey.

But Page Six later quashed those reports. Harry and Meghan have not set out what they plan to do personally to mark her big birthday.

As part of Meghan's initiative, Archewell suggested people partner with three organisations that Meghan has worked for - Smart Works, in the UK, YWCA and LA Works. 

Watch: Harry and Meghan discussed moving to New Zealand, governor-general says

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