Despite big changes, Meghan Markle is all smiles.
The 38-year-old mom was spotted in Canada on Tuesday boarding a seaplane bound for Vancouver, marking the first time she has been seen since she and Prince Harry announced their plans to step away as senior members of the royal family. In photos obtained by the Daily Mail, she can be seen bundled up for the snowy weather in a long green jacket with the hood up — the same one she wore heading out to a yoga class in Toronto back in March 2017 — and notably flashing a big grin.
Meghan was without 8-month-old son Archie, who stayed in Canada while his parents returned to London for a day of engagements last week. After releasing their big news, Meghan flew back to Canada while Prince Harry stayed in the U.K. to sort out details of their new arrangement with his grandmother Queen Elizabeth, father Prince Charles and brother Prince William. The Duke of Sussex will remain in the U.K. for the next few days to host the Rugby League World Cup 2021 draws at Buckingham Palace on Thursday.
At the conclusion of the historic family summit on Monday, Queen Elizabeth announced that that as conversations regarding Meghan and Harry’s decision to step down as senior royals continue, there will be a “period of transition in which the Sussexes will spend time in Canada and the U.K.”
At the time, the palace said Harry and Meghan’s decision to base themselves in the country over the holidays “reflects the importance of this Commonwealth country to them both.”
“The Duke of Sussex has been a frequent visitor to Canada over many years, and it was also home to The Duchess for seven years before she became a member of the Royal Family,” the statement continued. “They are enjoying sharing the warmth of the Canadian people and the beauty of the landscape with their young son.”
The Queen, 93, added in her statement, “Although we would have preferred them to remain full-time working Members of the Royal Family, we respect and understand their wish to live a more independent life as a family while remaining a valued part of my family.”
“These are complex matters for my family to resolve, and there is some more work to be done, but I have asked for final decisions to be reached in the coming days,” she concluded.
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In this week’s cover story, a family friend tells PEOPLE that the couple felt they had no choice but to manage things the way they did, even as they went against the family’s “never complain, never explain” mantra.
“This is not how they wanted to handle this, but Meghan and Harry’s hand was forced,” says the friend. “There is so much bad blood in that family — it’s toxic.”
The friend adds, “If relationships had been better, things would have been different.”