Even before her wedding to Prince Harry, Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, was upfront about her desire to use her new position to help various causes in the UK and around the world. And now, it looks like she's getting the chance to do just that: on Monday, Kensington Palace announced that Meghan Markle is lending her support to a cookbook called Together: Our Community Cookbook, and the story behind it is pretty heartwarming. In a short video, narrated by Meghan, the duchess explained that a group of women displaced following the 2017 Grenfell Tower fire came together to cook in a community kitchen two days a week, since they didn't have facilities in their hotel. But the experience gave the women the opportunity to come together and support one another, sharing food and friendship after enduring a tragedy, and giving rise to what is now the Hubb Community Kitchen — "hubb" is the Arabic word for "love."
Meghan first became involved in the initiative back in January, when she made a visit to the Al Manaar Muslim Cultural Heritage Centre in west London, where the women were meeting. In the clip, she explained she "immediately felt connected to [the] community kitchen," and that she, too, felt "passionate about food and cooking, as a way of strengthening communities." So when she learned that the only reason the women were only meeting twice a week came solely down to funding issues? The duchess suggested they create a cookbook to raise money.
The goal, according to the Royal Foundation, is to sell 50,000 copies of the charity cookbook, which would raise approximately $320,000 and allow the Hubb Community Kitchen to remain open seven days a week. Together contains 50 different recipes that come directly from the women who have gathered each week to sustain the community cooking effort, and offers up a diverse mix of Eastern Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and North African recipes, many of which are traditional family recipes that have been passed down through generations.
Despite her love for food, Meghan didn't actually contribute any recipes herself, but she does appear in the book's photography, and she also penned the foreword. In an excerpt from the publisher's website, the duchess explained that the book is an "homage to the power of cooking as a community, and the recipes that allow us to connect, share, and look forward."
The project appears to be the first initiative Meghan has launched on behalf of the Royal Foundation, which she joined as an official patron earlier this year. The charity, which was first established by Prince William and Prince Harry in 2009, became fully operational in 2011, when Catherine, then the newly-minuted Duchess of Cambridge, also came onboard. Over the years they have worked to support mental health, wildlife conservation, and have launched programming aimed at young people, and the armed forces community.
Though Meghan hasn't yet indicated what her future projects may look like, in her first joint interview with Prince Harry in Nov. 2017, according to TIME, she made it clear that she was eager to focus on philanthropy as a member of the royal family. Meghan said,
I think what’s been really exciting is [that] I can focus even more energy on [important causes,] because very early out of the gate you realize that once you have access or a voice that people are willing to listen to with that comes a lot of responsibility, which I take very seriously. And at the same time, in these beginning few months and now being boots on the ground in the UK, I’m excited to really just get to know more about the different communities here, the smaller organizations who are working on the same causes that I have always been passionate about under this umbrella.
It certainly seems like she's following through on that intention: helping to launch the Together charity cookbook was not only a way to become involved in an on-the-ground community cause, but it will also made a very direct and meaningful impact on the lives of the women who make up the Hubb Community Kitchen.
Want to buy the book? Together: Our Community Cookbook will be released in the UK on Sept. 20, and on Sept. 25 in the United States, and it is currently available for pre-order on Amazon in both countries.