Duchess Meghan makes her first appearance since welcoming baby Lilibet to encourage fans to get involved in special initiative

By Zach Harper

Duchess Meghan turned 40 on Aug. 4 and made her first appearance since welcoming baby Lilibet in June to reveal a special initiative that aims to help women returning to work.

The Duchess of Sussex was joined by her friend, comedian Melissa McCarthy, in a very funny video on Archewell's website in which the two revealed the project, which Meghan is calling 40X40.

The video opened with Melissa playing with a Rubik's cube, awkwardly "not realizing" her camera was still on before returning to her seat dressed in a fascinator and floral outfit with gloves and tea. "This'll probably... seem better for you," she joked.

Melissa then tried to guess why Meghan had asked her to join her, hilariously suggesting the duchess was going to reveal "another photo under a tree, where you're looking very peaceful," ask her to get matching tattoos of them both, announce a Suits reunion or plans for a yacht party.

"Because I'm turning 40, I am asking 40 friends to donate 40 minutes of their time to help mentor a woman who's mobilizing back into the workforce," Meghan explained. "Over 2 million women in the U.S. alone and tens of millions around the world have lost their jobs due to COVID. If we all do it, and all commit 40 minutes to some sort of act of service, we can create a rippled effect."

The clip sees Melissa agree, before Prince Harry appears in a blooper reel at the end, juggling outside the window of their Santa Barbara, Calif. home.

Meghan explained more in the message on the Archewell website, saying her 40th birthday has prompted her to consider "the many things I am grateful for," including time, which she called "among our greatest and most essential gifts."

"Amongst the most valuable gifts of time is also time spent in service to others knowing that it can contribute to incredible change," she wrote. "To that last point, and with my 40th lap around the sun in mind, it made me wonder: what would happen if we all committed 40 minutes to helping someone else or to mentoring someone in need? And what would happen if we asked our friends to do the same?"

She encouraged fans to commit to giving 40 minutes of their time by sharing the pledge message from the Archewell website. She also asked fans to let her and the Sussexes' organization know how they will spend their 40 minutes.

Fans and other celebrities already signing up, and the Archewell website has some great ideas from those who are taking part.

"I am planning to volunteer at a local shelter," Olivia, who is based in Berlin, wrote. "I will use this time to give back to my community that has been impacted by the pandemic."

Self-help author Deepak Chopra he was getting involved, sharing the message on his Twitter account.

Journalist Katie Couric also said she was taking part.

"I am thrilled to support Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex, on her 40th birthday by donating 40 minutes of service to help support women reentering the workforce," she wrote.

Smart Works, a charity that helps women with which Meghan has worked since 2018, also shared the message. YWCA US also supported the initiative.

"The Duchess of Sussex has personally dedicated many hours to supporting and mentoring Smart Works' clients ahead of their job interviews," the organization wrote. "We look forward to playing a small part in bringing this initiative to life for the women we exist to help."

The rights of women and girls have always been important to Meghan, who has been involved with gender equality causes and issues since she was a child. In her pre-royal days with charities such as World Vision, she helped raise awareness about barriers to education for women and girls. She continued her work on gender equality as a senior royal, and it has remained one of her top priorities since she and Harry stepped down from their royal roles in 2020.

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