Meghan Markle has a big week ahead of her. The newly-minted Duchess of Sussex will mark a milestone in her new royal life carrying out her first engagement sans husband Prince Harry. The former American actress, 36, will accompany Queen Elizabeth to Cheshire. The pair will spend their first away day together on Thursday, June 14, but their journey will begin the night before on board the royal train. Harry’s wife and grandmother are expected to set off the evening before, as the 92-year-old monarch prefers to make long-distance journeys overnight rather than wake up earlier than usual.
The train ride can take up to two and a half hours from London to Runcorn in Cheshire, but the royal train usually travels at a lower than normal speed. It is fitted with secondary air suspension meaning passengers have an exceptionally smooth and comfortable ride.
It will no doubt be an eye-opening experience for Meghan, 36, who officially joined the royal family three weeks ago. The Queen's personal train is usually reserved for senior royals and palace staff, with Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall making the most use of it. Prince William is only believed to have used it once in 2003 on his birthday tour, when he traveled to Wales, while Prince Harry and Kate Middleton are not thought to have boarded it before in an official capacity.
Meghan will carry out her first solo engagement with the Queen on June 14 Photo: JONATHAN BRADY/AFP/Getty Images
Described as Buckingham Palace on wheels, the lavish train, which was first used by Queen Victoria in 1842, has a luxurious smoking room, bedrooms with en-suite bathrooms and a 12-seater dining room. It is only used a handful of times a year. While it is very costly, it does provide a more comfortable ride for Her Majesty. During their outing on Thursday, Meghan and the monarch will open the Mersey Gateway Bridge, before opening the Storyhouse Theatre. The Queen and Duchess will then attend a lunch at Chester Town Hall.
Last year during her post-engagement interview, Meghan opened up about meeting the Queen for the first time saying, “It’s incredible. I think to be able to meet her through his lens, not just with his honor and respect for her as the monarch but the love that he has for her as his grandmother, all of those layers have been so important for me." She added, "When I met her I had such a deep understanding and, of course, incredible respect for being able to have that time with her, and she’s an incredible woman."