'I Met Meghan And Harry And It Was Everything You'd Expect And More'
EXCLUSIVE: Mental health charity founder Jazz Thornton had a royal encounter to remember forever.
On a brisk spring morning in Wellington, New Zealand, Jazz Thornton was at a cozy local cafe preparing for one of the biggest days of her life.
Thornton, the founder of mental health charity Voices Of Hope, was about to meet two very special and very famous people: the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.
The royal couple had touched down in the country's capital on Sunday to complete the final days of their whirlwind royal tour, but they and their adoring fans were showing no signs of slowing down.
According to Thornton the anticipation of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's 10am arrival at their October 29 engagement was building to fever pitch.
"I was so nervous!" Thornton told ten daily. "We had been waiting in the cafe since 9am. We could hear people screaming from the street."
Meghan and Harry's entrance still caught Thornton and the co-founder of Voices Of Hope, Genevieve Mora, by surprise.
"I was taking a quick photo with my coworker and suddenly they were there. We were the first ones to speak with them," Thornton said.
After settling down at a table with the sixth-in-line to the British throne and his wife -- who sipped on a glass of water and a tea respectively -- Thornton was struck by just how authentic they were.
"The thing that surprised me the most was just how relaxed and down-to-earth they were," she told ten daily.
Not only that, the Prince and mum-to-be Meghan were genuinely interested in Thornton and Mora's work with their mental health charity.
"It wasn't like they were ticking off a box. They were really engaged," Thornton said.
They were incredible. It was just like a big conversation. I wanted to ask them round to dinner!
Harry in particular has long been an advocate for mental health issues, and Thornton shared his reaction to the charity's empowering slogan, "It's not weak to speak."
"He loved it."
Meghan too was a keen listener, soaking in what Thornton and Mora had to say and asking thoughtful questions.
In fact, the Duchess' engaging manner almost threw Thornton off. "Meghan has this really intense stare, she's so intensely listening. She's just so interested."
The royal couple were so involved in their conversation that Harry refused to cut their chat short according to Thornton.
"Security tried to move Harry to the next table but he was still talking to us," she told ten daily.
Security also watched on as Harry and Meghan dispatched with royal protocol and posed for a photo with the charity founders, wrapping an arm around each of them.
After spending a generous 15 minutes with Thornton and Mora the newlyweds went on to speak with others in the cafe, with their visit lasting about 45 minutes in total.
Before the Duke and Duchess left, however, Meghan showed off her caring side by requesting that the cakes that were laid out for their visit be given to the schoolchildren who'd gathered outside.
Thornton remembers the moment well, having played a key role in the cake re-distribution. "I was the person she asked. She just came over and asked me to bring the cakes down."
With the little ones outside the cafe well fed and the grown ups inside still buzzing from their royal encounter, Meghan and Harry sped off to their next appointment. Their impact on Voices Of Hope is already showing.
"Our charity has blown up overnight," Thornton excitedly shared with ten daily.
"It's a massive deal for a family like the royals to talk about mental health. It shows that mental health doesn't discriminate. Harry and Meghan are changing the perception."
Feature Image: Facebook/@thevoicesofhope.