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The Indian guests at the Royal Wedding

Last updated on: May 19, 2018 13:29 IST

'It is a great honour and responsibility because I will be a representative of India at the wedding,' Suhani Jalota -- whose Myna Mahila Foundation was selected by Prince Harry and Meghan Markle as one of the seven charities to benefit from donations from the Royal Wedding - tells Rediff.com's Archana Masih.

Suhani Jalota in the peach sari, second from right, with Deborah in pink, Archana in green, Imogen in grey -- Suhani's colleagues at the Myna Mahila Foundation -- all set for the Royal Wedding.

IMAGE: Suhani Jalota in the peach sari, second from right, with Deborah in pink, Archana in green, Imogen in grey -- Suhani's colleagues at the Myna Mahila Foundation -- all set for the Royal Wedding. All photographs: Kind courtesy Suhani Jalota

In a couple of hours, Suhani Jalota from Mumbai will make her way from London to Windsor Castle, 20 miles away, to attend the Royal Wedding.

She will be wearing a peach sari, and will be accompanied by three other women from her Myna Mahila Foundation.

The NGO promoting menstrual hygiene was selected by Prince Harry and Meghan Markle as one of the seven charities to benefit from donations from the Royal Wedding.

It is customary for royals to pick charities, instead of gifts, patrons donate to the selected charities.

Suhani Jalota, left, with Meghan Markle and the staff at the Myna Mahila Foundation

IMAGE: Suhani Jalota, left, with Meghan Markle and the staff at the Myna Mahila Foundation.

The wedding invitation was sent to Suhani from Prince Charles. She received it in the post about a month ago.

It was communicated to Suhani that she would be one of the wedding guests when she got news that the NGO she founded, while studying at Duke University, was going to be one of the beneficiaries from the royal wedding.

"It is a great honour and responsibility because I will be a representative of India at the wedding," says Suhani over the telephone from London.

She will be in attendance at Windsor Chapel during the wedding ceremony and at the reception in Windsor Castle thereafter.

 

 

Suhani receives the Queen's Young Leader Award from Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace last year.
IMAGE: Suhani receives the Queen's Young Leader Award from Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace last year.

This will not be her first outing with British royalty. Last year, she received the Queen's Young Leader Award from Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace.

Suhani's Myna Foundation was first noticed by Meghan Markle when she was selected as the grand prize winner of Glamour magazine's College Woman of the Year in 2016. Markle met her at the event and was deeply moved by her work.

In a subsequent article for glamour.com, she counted Suhani along with the legendary primatologist Dian Fossey, Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison, former US secretary of state Madeleine Albright etc as among the 10 women who changed her life.

Meghan Markle interacts with the staff during her visit to the Myna Mahila Foundation last year

IMAGE: Meghan Markle interacts with the staff during her visit to the Myna Mahila Foundation last year.

Last year, when Meghan visited India, she spent time at the Myna Foundation, getting to know the women and the work they did.

The Foundation employs women from urban slums to manufacture sanitary pads and reaches out to 10,000 women every month.

"She was very grounded, had done her research and was very action-oriented. She is very true to the causes she cares about," says Suhani who will soon pursue a PhD in health policy at the Stanford School of Medicine.

"She was very approachable. There was no barrier. The women did not know that she was an actress, they only knew she was someone high profile. She was very friendly and down to earth," recalls Suhani who has hardly seen Suits -- the television series that made Meghan a star -- herself.

The ladies cooked a meal of daal, chawal, paneer and kheer. Meghan, says Suhani, wanted to know how to cook daal.

"The women wanted to know about her life, whether she was married and about menstrual hygiene in her country," says Suhani.

 The invitation Suhani received to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's wedding.

IMAGE: The invitation Suhani received to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's wedding.

Myna Foundation's selection as the royal wedding charity will change many lives, feels Suhani.

As she sits with three other Myna women in the pews at Windsor chapel witnessing the wedding of the year, at the Myna Foundation's offices in Govandi, north Mumbai, the rest of the women staff will watch the ceremony on television.

Archana Masih / Rediff.com