Meghan Markle grew up in America largely unaware of the symbolism and power of the Commonwealth.
It is clear, however, that this international institution, whose head is her husband-to-be’s grandmother, will play a huge part in the rest of her life.
As she sat with Prince Harry and senior royals at the annual Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey in March, the importance of her new role must have begun to dawn on her.
A month later, Commonwealth leaders at a summit in London endorsed the Queen’s wish and agreed that the Prince of Wales would be the organisation’s next head.
They also approved another appointment backed by the Queen: that of Harry as Commonwealth Youth Ambassador.
Harry and Meghan had already spoken in the engagement interview of their passion for the Commonwealth and their hopes for engaging with its young people.
This will be put to the test in their first major overseas assignment in October — a Commonwealth tour.
The Standard can reveal that the tour will take in Australia — where Harry will open his Invictus Games — and New Zealand, as well as the islands of Tonga and Fiji.
It is clear that the Queen — who is always debriefed by family members after they have returned from Commonwealth visits undertaken on her behalf — plans to use this royal “power couple” as super envoys.
More key Commonwealth destinations will follow for Harry and Meghan, with one senior aide saying that they would “hit the ground running”.
The Queen, 92, and 96-year-old Prince Philip — who retired last year — no longer undertake long-haul travel and the monarch wants to capitalise on the popularity of her grandson and his bride.
The British Government, through the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, also hopes to cement ties with old friends and help smooth the path for trade. The couple — along with Charles and Camilla and William and Kate — will play a key role in “soft power” diplomacy for the UK.
Meghan told a visiting teacher at Westminster Abbey on Commonwealth Day: “It was great to see people from all over the world so well represented at the service.” It has been quite an education for her — from Hollywood actress to princess-in-waiting.
She has been given a crash-course on how to be a royal and the country she will represent.
Within a few months of the engagement announcement, the couple visited every country in the United Kingdom, taking in Nottingham, Brixton, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast.
She appeared to take it all in her stride. Often not waiting for Harry to show her the way, she would introduce herself with a cheery “Hi, I’m Meghan”. On her first public outing in Nottingham, fans had waited patiently in freezing conditions to meet her and she did not disappoint. She was personable and natural.
The couple’s next stop was Brixton, where they visited Reprezent 107.3 FM — the only UK radio station presented solely by young people. Outside, foster carer Sharley Watson, 55, said: “It’s good to see Meghan in Brixton, a black community — it’s the first time we’ve had a royal visit here. Hopefully she will want to help areas like this.”
In Cardiff, Meghan was praised by Jessica Phillips, 23, for her feminist views. “He [Harry] is a feminist too,” Meghan said.
As well as their Commonwealth duties, Harry and Meghan may also have family matters on their horizon.
On a visit to a science park in Northern Ireland, Meghan gestured at an array of baby equipment, saying: “I am sure at one point we will need the whole thing.”
Asked during the engagement interview in November if they had plans for children, Harry replied drily: “Not currently no.” But then he added: “One step at a time. Hopefully we’ll start a family in the near future.”