Meghan Markle launches 40th birthday initiative with Adele, Amanda Gorman and more

The Duchess of Sussex has enlisted famous friends to help mentor women around the world affected by Covid-19 who are returning to the workforce

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Meghan, Duchess of Sussex turns 40 today, and to celebrate she has launched her 40x40 initiative.

The programme is designed to help mentor women around the world who are returning to the workforce. The duchess has enlisted 40 friends to offer women 40 minutes of their time. Mentors include poet Amanda Gorman, social activist Gloria Steinem, singer Adele, fashion designer Stella McCartney, chef Jose Andres and Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, the wife of Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau.

To launch the initiative, she spoke to actress Melissa McCarthy, who joined the conversation in a Bridgerton-style outfit, with a cup of milky tea – a nod to Meghan's royal status.

Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, launched her 40x40 initiative with the help of actress Melissa McCarthy. Archewell

In the tongue-in-cheek video, McCarthy suggests ways to celebrate Meghan's birthday, which include a Suits reunion, a yacht party and matching "best friend" tattoos. Meghan turns her down, suggesting instead her 40x40 initiative.

“Here’s the idea, because I’m turning 40, I’m asking 40 friends to donate 40 minutes of their time to help mentor a women who is mobilising back into the workforce,” Meghan tells her actress friend.

“Over two million women, in the US alone, and tens of million around the world, have lost their jobs due to Covid. [So] I think we all do it, and all commit 40 minutes to some kind of active service, we can create a ripple affect.

“You in?” she asks McCarthy, who replies: “Yes, times 40, 40 40 40 … and then 40 times I say yes.”

In the video, the duchess wears a relaxed white vest and cream cardigan, as well as a duo of constellation necklaces, one for taurus, the star sign of her son Archie, 2, and a second for gemini, the star sign of newborn daughter, Lilibet. In the background, the family's beagle dog Guy can be seen sleeping, and Prince Harry makes a juggling cameo at the end.

The duchess is believed to be celebrating her 40th birthday in California with her husband, Prince Harry, and their two children.

On the Archewell website, she expanded on the programme, writing: “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. If you are able, please join in and pledge 40 minutes today in service of others in the way that feels right to you.”

She added: “A mentorship relationship can take on many forms, but ultimately works to motivate, inspire, and support a mentee; helping her with the confidence and practical tools she needs to achieve a professional goal. Many mentorship organisations offer opportunities to sign up and get involved, including three partners of 40x40: Smart Works, YWCA, and LA Works.”

As the Duchess of Sussex turns 40, look back at 40 of her most memorable style moments:

Updated: August 05, 2021, 4:58 AM