Duchess of Sussex visits women's centre in Vancouver in first public engagement since Royal Family 'split'

Telegraph Reporters
It is the first time the duchess has attended a public engagement since she and Prince Harry announced their split from the Royal family - FACEBOOK

The Duchess of Sussex visited a women's centre in Vancouver on Tuesday, her first public engagement since she and Prince Harry announced they were "stepping back" as senior members of the Royal Family.

She was pictured earlier on Tuesday boarding a float plane in Victoria's Inner Harbour, on Vancouver Island. 

It comes one day after the Queen gave permission to the Duke and Duchess to live outside of the United Kingdom and to cut back on some of their royal duties, beginning a transition period in which they are expected to live in Canada.

She was later pictured meeting staff at Vancouver's Downtown Eastside Women's centre provides help for women, including counselling, food and necessities. 

"Look who we had tea with today! The Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle, visited us today to discuss issues affecting women in the community," the group wrote on Facebook. 

The duchess's appearances in Vancouver are fuelling speculation that she and Harry may settle in the area.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex spent six weeks over the Christmas period in British Columbia staying at a property on Vancouver Island.

The Duchess lived and worked in Toronto during her time as an actress in the US drama Suits, and she lived in Canada for seven years.

But since the couple's announcement, Canadian media have been tepid on the idea, focusing largely on who will pay the hefty security costs for hosting Prince Harry and Meghan.

The Canadian government has not yet decided if it will bear these costs, estimated to be Can$1.7 million (£1 million) per year.

The National Post suggested Prince Harry and Meghan should have to apply for Canadian citizenship "like everyone else."

Its columnist Chris Selley said "Megxit" has "activated a sort of dormant monarchism" in some Canadians while having "utterly incensed those who think monarchies are a grotesque anachronism."

The Globe and Mail, meanwhile, urged Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to deny the couple's request to move to Canada, saying this country has "never had a class system with hereditary aristocrats like Britain."

"Canada is not a halfway house for anyone looking to get out of Britain while remaining a royal," the daily said in an editorial.

Many Canadians, however, have been more receptive. Mr Trudeau said in December: "You're among friends, and always welcome here."

According to a poll, a majority of Canadians (61 percent) would support making Prince Harry the country's next governor general, replacing former astronaut Julie Payette when her term expires in two years.

The governor general is Queen Elizabeth II's representative in the former British colony, a member of the Commonwealth.