13/09/2019 8:23 PM AEST

Meghan Markle Steps Out For Her First Official Public Appearance After Maternity Leave

The Duchess of Sussex also shared behind-the-scenes pictures from a photo shoot for her new charity clothing line.

Meghan Markle stepped out Thursday for her first official royal public appearance since giving birth to Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor in May. 

The Duchess of Sussex headed to John Lewis’ flagship store in London for the launch of her five-piece capsule clothing collection that benefits her patronage, Smart Works.

The duchess and the charity, which helps to dress and prepare women for job interviews, joined forces with Marks & Spencer, John Lewis, Jigsaw and Misha Nonoo on the clothing line. Each time someone buys an item, another item will be donated to a woman at Smart Works. The clothing line went on sale online earlier in the day, before the duchess’s appearance. 

Henry Nicholls / Reuters
The Duchess of Sussex launches the Smart Works capsule collection on Sept. 12 in London.
Samir Hussein via Getty Images
Meghan showed up wearing pieces from the capsule collection. 
POOL New / Reuters
Meghan greets designer and friend Misha Nonoo during the launching of the Smart Works capsule collection. 

For the event, the Duchess of Sussex wore pieces from the capsule collection (a white Misha Nonoo shirt and Jigsaw pants) and earrings from Princess Diana, according to royals reporter Omid Scoobie, who captured the duchess’s speech on video. 

Meghan said she was “so proud” of the collection in an Instagram posted to the Sussex Royal account on Thursday. The post also includes behind-the-scenes photos showing her surprising unsuspecting patrons at Smart Works for a photo shoot. 

“Since moving to the UK, it has been deeply important to me to meet with communities and organisations on the ground doing meaningful work and to try to do whatever I can to help them amplify their impact,” the duchess wrote. 

“It was just last September that we launched the ‘Together’ cookbook with the women of the Hubb Kitchen in Grenfell. Today, a year later, I am excited to celebrate the launch of another initiative of women supporting women, and communities working together for the greater good,” she added. 

Meghan has been seen in public other times since Archie’s birth, including a trip to New York City last week to watch the U.S. Open. But Thursday’s appearance was her first post-pregnancy official event representing the royal family, featuring a speech.

The Duchess of Sussex has said she was inspired to start the collection after visiting her patronage and noticing clothing donations don’t always fit women’s needs. 

“Throughout her visits she noticed that while the donations were plentiful, they were also notably a combination of mismatched items and colours which weren’t always the right stylistic choices or sizes that didn’t necessarily ‘suit’ the job at hand: to make a woman feel confident and inspired as she walked into her job interview,” read a caption on the Sussex Royal page, posted in July.

The former “Suits” actress also wrote about the upcoming collection in the September issue of British Vogue, which she guest-edited. 

“For each item purchased by a customer, one is donated to charity,” Meghan wrote in the editor’s letter. “Not only does this allow us to be part of each other’s story, it reminds us we are in it together.”

Her charity work drew praise earlier this week from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who posted an image on Instagram showing the duchess hugging someone, with a glowing caption about her involvement with Smart Works. 

“I’m so inspired by how Meghan Markle — aka one half of @sussexroyal — is representing the U.S. in the U.K. and on the world stage,” Clinton wrote. “Meghan’s new project: Helping @SmartWorksCharity equip women who have been out of the workforce with the office essentials they need to feel confident in job interviews and beyond,” she added. 

Up next for Meghan, Harry and Archie is a trip to South Africa this fall. 

Subscribe to HuffPost’s Watching the Royals newsletter for all things Windsor (and beyond).