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What is a Haul Video and How Can You Use it to Promote Your Retail Business?

What is a Haul Video and How Can You Use it to Promote Your Retail Business?

If you’ve spent any time on YouTube in recent years, you’re probably familiar with haul videos. This type of content can provide potential benefits to both influencers and small retail businesses.

Though they may not be quite as prevalent as they once were, it’s still important to be aware of the potential impact of these videos. They still may be able to help you spread the word about your brand or create useful content for your target audience. To learn the ins and outs of haul videos, here’s a quick guide.

What Is a Haul Video?

Essentially, a haul video is a recording of someone going over a collection of purchases. They may go into detail about what each product is, their initial impressions, and the shopping experience as a whole. A haul usually includes products from a single retailer, a particular collection of shops, or at least a specific category where the products all relate to one another.

Haul videos originally gained relevance around 2006/2007 through the beauty vlogging community on YouTube. But then the concept has since spread through plenty of other niches. And though they’re still most common on YouTube, they’ve also spread to other platforms like Facebook and Instagram. Haul videos may not be quite as prevalent as they once were. But influencers are still creating and sharing these videos daily. And since the market for them isn’t quite as saturated, it could be an interesting time for businesses to jump in.

Haul videos really only offer initial impressions of products. They’re not as thorough as full product reviews. But they do usually contain products that the influencer has chosen, so they can quickly explain why they liked each item. In certain categories like clothing or makeup, the person may even try on the items to offer a full and honest first impression. So it could be a bit more impactful than an unboxing video, which often features products from a subscription box or items gifted from a PR company.

Who Can Use a Haul Video?

Haul videos have been posted in nearly every business niche and target audience. However, they tend to be especially popular in areas like makeup, fashion, toys, and any area where it’s possible/common to buy a lot of products at once. It’s not a concept that’s especially relevant for service businesses or retailers that sell really expensive products.

As a small retail business, haul videos can help you connect to relevant consumers through influencers. Basically, viewers watch and subscribe to YouTube videos of people they trust or who share similar tastes in products. So when that influencer shares a collection of products, a viewer might see an item that strikes their fancy and decide to purchase one as well.

On the influencer side, haul videos can offer a way to share valuable content with your audience. If you have a YouTube channel, Facebook page, Instagram account or blog, offering insights on the products you love can help your audience shape their own buying decisions. And the video format allows people to get a feel for your personality and connect with you. It also creates a natural way for you to infuse some brand related content into your strategy. This can lead to profitable connections for your business going forward.

How Can You Use Haul Videos for Your Small Business?

If you’re interested in utilizing haul videos as an influencer, you simply need to find a product category or shop that is relevant to your audience and then go on a shopping spree. When you film your video, simply go over each purchase and then promote your content. Over time, you may even be able to work with brands that want to connect with your audience. This can help you cover the costs of your videos and bring in a profit in exchange for spreading the word.

If you’re a retailer, taking advantage of haul videos requires finding relevant influencers to work with or promoting organic content related to your brand. Haul videos can be especially helpful in spreading the word about new products. So if you’re preparing for a launch or have recently unveiled a new line, you may want to contact some relevant YouTube creators or social media personalities in your niche to arrange sponsored content.

The exact logistics are up to you. But you may be able to pay them or arrange a free shopping spree for them. However, it is usually beneficial to have them pick out their own products. If you send them items without their input, they may be less relevant or less likely to share the positive attributes that drew them to each item. In these cases, they’ll also need to disclose that the content is sponsored.

Of course, organically created content can also be incredibly valuable for your business. This is a less proactive step. But you can still keep an eye out for haul videos that mention your business or include your products. Then you can promote them to your own audience. This may also be a helpful way for you to find influencers for future sponsored content opportunities, since they’re already genuinely interested in your offerings.


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Meghan Markle flies home from New York in a PRIVATE JET

Meghan Markle flies home from New York in a PRIVATE JET

Meghan Markle ended her extravagant $500,000 five-night trip to New York City by boarding a luxury private jet bound for the UK, just hours after she was thrown a lavish baby shower by her closest friends in a $75,000-a-night penthouse, MailOnline can reveal today.

The seven-months-pregnant duchess was pictured boarding the private plane on Wednesday evening, less than an hour after she was seen leaving her swanky Upper East Side hotel – which served as the venue for her star-studded baby shower, which was thrown for her especially by Amal Clooney and Serena Williams. 

Meghan’s extremely luxurious mode of transportation back to the UK – a Gulfstream G450 twin jet plane – is thought to have cost a staggering $125,000 for the six-hour journey back to the UK from the Big Apple. 

The 37-year-old royal is also thought to have arrived in New York via private jet, meaning that a phenomenal $250,000 was spent on her round-trip travel for the personal girls’ trip – bringing the total estimated cost of the getaway to around half a million dollars. 

On Monday, Kensington Palace confirmed that Meghan’s travel for the six-day trip had been ‘privately funded’ because it was a personal getaway but the spokesman would not comment on any other details of her visit to New York, and declined to give any official information about her security detail, or her plans while she was staying in the city.

However, exclusive video and images obtained by confirms that the royal did travel on a private jet in order to return home to the UK, with several sources claiming that she used the same form of transportation in order to travel to New York at the end of last week.   

Mile-high Meghan: The Duchess of Sussex, circled, was pictured boarding a private jet on Wednesday evening bound for the UK, after spending five nights in New York. A one-way trip on the plane is believed to cost a staggering $125,000

 Away she goes: Meghan was seen boarding the jet from the front door, walking up the steps of the aircraft wearing a tan coat and a black cap after climbing out of a blacked-out SUV

She’s off! The pregnant duchess left the swanky Upper East Side hotel where her baby shower took place on Wednesday evening after the lavish soiree, cradling her bump as she made her way to a waiting SUV, and wearing the same tan coat

Ready to go home? The 37-year-old made her first public appearance of the day when she emerged from her hotel in order to head to the airport to board the private jet that flew her home to the UK 

The height of luxury: Meghan flew home on a Gulfstream G450 (pictured), a twin-jet craft that is one of the most popular picks for Hollywood elite with busy transatlantic schedules

Meghan is one of many high-profile figures to fly in a $43,000,000 (£33,000,000) Gulfstream G450, with the aircraft known for being one of the most popular plane picks among Hollywood A-listers thanks to its lavish interiors and ability to make both domestic and transatlantic flights.

The cost of Meghan’s New York baby shower 

Return private jet from the UK to New York – $250,000 

The Mark Hotel Grand Penthouse Suite – $150,000

Five nights in a one-bedroom suite at The Mark Hotel – $9,982.05

Dinner for five at The Polo Bar – approx. $420 with drinks

Lunch at The Surrey – Cafe Bolud – approx. $78

Afternoon tea for two at Laduree – approx. $25

Two Royal Protection officers – $14,213  

Harp player Erin Hill – $625

17 Away carry-on suitcases – $3,825

Gifts: Babyletto Hudson 3-in-1 Convertible Crib – $379

10ft mandarin tree – approx. $140

Lady Fleur NYC roses – approx. $399.95

Trek bicycle – approx. $609.99 

Carnival King cotton candy machine – $199.99

TOTAL: $430,896.98 

The Gulfstream G450 has a 16-passenger capacity and operates with two Rolls-Royce Tay Mk 611-8C engines, each capable of producing 13,850lb of thrust.   

According to Haute Living, the G450 is also is also considered to have the most advanced flight deck in business aviation, with 14-inch liquid crystal display screens arranged in a landscape format and an Enhanced Vision System to present pilots with a clear picture of runway markings, taxiways and the surrounding landscape at night or in deteriorating weather conditions – like the snow and ice in New York on Wednesday. 

The plane also offers the Synthetic Vision – Primary Flight Display as an option to increase the level of safety, making it an incredibly secure option for anyone looking to indulge in a private jet flight. 

It also boasts a shower, a three-person divan, which would serve as the perfect place for Meghan to rest after a jam-packed trip, and a full galley with a convection oven should any of the passengers require an in-flight meal.  

The plane also had plenty of room for the many gifts that were seen being delivered to Meghan’s hotel ahead of the shower; in the 24-hour lead-up to the big event, a wide variety of items were seen being brought int the hotel, including a $140 mandarin tree, a $379 travel crib, a children’s bicycle believed to be worth around $610, and a batch of 17 $225 Away carry-on suitcases that were gifted to the royal and her guests by the trendy travel brand. 

Needless to say the majority of those items would likely not have fit in the hold of an average commercial plane, particularly when paired with Meghan’s luggage, and that of her two royal protection officers, who are thought to have traveled with her on the private jet both to and from New York City. 

It is not known whether Meghan and Prince Harry paid for the flight themselves, or whether they were loaned the plane by one of their many A-list pals. 

The royals certainly have their fair share of high-profile pals who may have been able to secure her access to a private plane; TV mogul Oprah, who was in attendance at the royal wedding, and is said to have formed a close bond with Meghan’s mother Doria, owns a private jet, and once said of the plane that it was incredibly useful for making the exact trip that the Duchess of Sussex made on Wednesday evening.

‘I would say having your own airplane is the greatest luxury,’ Oprah told British Vogue editor Edward Enninful during a 2018 interview, before adding: ‘Because it means one minute you’re in New York, and then the next minute you say, “You know Edward, I think I’ll fly to London.”‘

Her fellow royal wedding guests David and Victoria Beckham regularly travel via private jet with their family, as does actor George Clooney, whose wife Amal was the co-host of Meghan’s baby shower, which took place just hours before she boarded the private plane. 

And Prince Harry certainly doesn’t seem to have any qualms about flying privately; the father-to-be actually chartered himself a jet to the tune of $26,100 (£20,000) in order to return home from Norway on February 14 so that he could spend his first Valentine’s Day as a married man with his pregnant wife.

The duke made his round trip in a double-engine Cessna Citation Excel for the three-hour visit to the Bardufoss air station, 200 miles (322km) within the Arctic Circle. The state-of-the-art 18ft plane flies in and out of smaller airports while offering ‘the comfort and amenities of a midsize cabin jet’ according to Cessna. 

Onwards: The royal looked as though she was dressed comfortably for a flight, wearing a pair of black leggings, a black zip-up sports top, a black cap, and a chic tan overcoat, as well as a pair of Adidas sneakers

Low-key: Meghan modeled a black baseball cap with the word ‘Rectify’ written across it, which she borrowed from her friend, actress Abigail Spencer, who once starred in a show by that name, and was seen wearing the same hat earlier in the day

Getting closer! Meghan’s large baby bump was clearly visible in the tight top as she left the hotel, having worn baggier outfit options for the much of her $500,000 trip to New York 

Quick as a flash: When the duchess boarded the plane (seen center), she did not appear to have any luggage with her, and she made a swift ascent up the stairs and onto the aircraft. It is thought her bags had already been loaded by staff

Style: There are a number of different design options available in the Gulfstream G450, however each plane boasts several convertible sleeping areas, like the one seen left, where passengers can lie flat and get some rest

A direct chartered flight on the Citation Excel – based on a seven-hour round trip from Farnborough to Bardufoss, where Harry was traveling to and from, for seven people – would cost between $23,000 (£18,200) and $28,000 (£21,450) according to Luxaviation.

A costly end to a pricey trip! Meghan faces paying hundreds of pounds in airport duty as she lands back in UK with baby shower gifts 

Step aside! As well as the flowers, staff at the hotel were also seen wheeling in a large box housing a $379 travel crib, which may well have been a gift for the Duchess

Meghan Markle may have splashed out a fortune on her New York baby shower but the Duchess of Sussex also faces a significant tax bill to cover the extravagant gifts she is bringing with her on her private jet.

Guests arrived at the exclusive The Mark Hotel in on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, overlooking Central Park laden with bag after bag of expensive gifts likely to be worth thousands or even tens of thousands of pounds. 

The presents will have been loaded on to her private jet that set off for London last night but will be subject to UK import taxes when she arrives.

Meghan can bring in goods worth up to £270 into Britain from the US without paying any airport duty.

Once that total is exceeded she has to pay tax on it.

If a single item’s worth more than that allowance she must pay any duty or tax on its full value, not just the value above the allowance. 

Only a handful of the gifts she received have been revealed and those alone will probably cost her hundreds of pounds to import. 

Any item worth more £620 [$820] is subject to higher rates of tax.

For example high value jewellery including items containing diamonds are taxed at 20 per cent of its total value. 

For example the Trek bicycle given as a baby shower gift is worth at least $609 [£470] could be subject to duty of around £50 because of a 14 per cent tax rate on bicycles from outside the EU.

Meghan must also pay 2.5% on the crib, mandarin tree, flowers and the cotton candy machine she was given.

Last October, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex were caught up in a mid-air scare when their private jet was hit by lightning. The couple was travelling to an opening party in Amsterdam when their luxury Dassault Falcon 7X was reportedly struck.

A bolt of lightning struck the nose cone, narrowly avoiding the navigation equipment. Around 30 million volts surged through the plane’s fuselage.

After the dramatic scare, the plane – which would have set the Duke and Duchess back around $26,100 (£20,000) for a return flight to Amsterdam – managed to land safely at Schiphol Airport.

However the extraordinary price of Meghan’s round-trip on the private jet is a stark contrast from the amount she is believed to have spent when she reportedly visited her friend Jessica Mulroney in Toronto back in September; while only five months have passed since her three-trip, it seems much has changed as far as Meghan’s travel priorities.

At the time, the duchess, who had not yet announced that she was pregnant, chose commercial airline Air Canada for her trip, with sources telling Royal Central that ‘lovely’ Meghan, who was accompanied by two royal protection officers, ‘had one glass of champagne before settling down to watch the Book Club’, a movie starring Diane Keaton, Candice Bergen, Jane Fonda, and Mary Steenburgen.

‘She seemed very relaxed and sipped on peppermint tea during the journey,’ the source added. 

Even if Meghan and her two protection officers had chosen to fly in Business Class, which is the most expensive option offered by Air Canada, and which boasts ‘lie-flat beds’ for passengers, the round-trip tickets for all three of them would have cost a maximum of around $21,055.84 – which is less than a tenth of the cost of her private jet journey.

The duchess’s departure from New York comes at the end of a busy five-night, six-day trip that saw her catching up with friends, enjoying several meals at some of the city’s best restaurants, and, of course, being the guest of honor at her baby shower on Wednesday before flying home. 

Despite her seemingly hectic schedule over the last few days – which saw her spending time with friends at hotspots like The Surrey hotel, The Polo Bar, and the Met Breuer – Meghan looked fresh-faced and glowing as she was pictured leaving The Mark a few hours after her baby shower ended. 

Meghan appeared to be ready to settle down in the comfort of her private plane, and was far more dressed down than we have seen her recently, eschewing her heeled boots and chic nude pumps in favor of figure-hugging black leggings and a matching sports top that accentuated her large bump. 

She also wore a black cap with the word ‘Rectify’ written across it, which appears to have been a gift from her friend and former Suits co-star Abigail Spencer, who actually arrived at the hotel for the baby shower earlier in the day wearing the exact same design. Rectify was the name of a SundanceTV series that Abigail starred in between 2013 and 2016. 

The duchess finished off her dressed-down look with a pair of black Adidas sneakers, and she was seen carrying a large $395 Cuyana Le Sud Leather Weekender tote; the brand is known to be one of the royal’s favorites, and the label has even partnered with Meghan’s makeup artist Daniel Martin in the past.

As she has been for the entirety of the trip, Meghan was flanked by two plain clothes royal protection officers, as well as at least three armed officers from the State Department. 

When approached earlier this week, Kensington Palace would not comment on the details surrounding the royal’s security during the trip, and it is not known whether the protection officers were being paid for privately, or whether the bill was being footed by taxpayers. 

Earlier this year it was announced that Meghan’s armed Scotland Yard bodyguard, who accompanied the expectant mother on her royal tour of Australia with Prince Harry last year, was quitting her post after less than a year in the role. 

The inspector’s appointment as head of protection made her the first woman to hold such a key post for the royals, and she was regularly pictured guarding Meghan on overseas trips. 

Special delivery: This silver SUV left Meghan’s hotel shortly before the duchess departed in her own blacked-out vehicle, and it is thought that this car was carrying most of her luggage, belongings and gifts that were then loaded onto the plane

Swag? Several packages that appeared to be suitcases wrapped in black garbage bags were seen being loaded into the same SUV outside The Mark hotel, where Meghan stayed, and where her baby shower was hosted on Wednesday

Loading it up: The silver SUV carrying the luggage (seen left) was pictured parked near the private plane, before Meghan’s personal SUV arrived at the airport 

Getting ready to fly: Several NYPD and state department vehicles were seen waiting next to the jet before it took off

Waiting: Two black SUVs pulled up alongside the plane, with several men dressed in all black emerging from the vehicles before Meghan made her way out of the second car, seen to the right with a door open

Preparation: Before Meghan boarded the plane, several men were seen climbing up the steps of the craft, no doubt checking to make sure it was ready for its departure

In January, it was revealed that protection officers tasked with guarding the Queen and other members of the royal family earned six-figure salaries in 2016/17, bringing in around $130,000 (£100,000) each, after winning a pay dispute with Scotland Yard over their ‘special escort’ allowance. 

The latest accounts for the Metropolitan Police show 47 officers from the Royalty and Specialist Protection (RaSP) unit earned six-figures in 2016/2017. This is in addition to the large one-off payments given to officers after the dispute over the scrapping of escort allowance in 2012. 

The Met has not disclosed the exact payments, but at least $6.5 million (£5 million) was paid out among the 47 officers, which works out at as an average of $137,512 (£106,383) each.  

Taking into account the average annual salary of a royal protection officer, and the cost of their room and board throughout the trip it is estimated that the cost of the two men would have been close to $15,000 for the five nights. 

Meghan was joined at her baby shower by a host of high-profile guests, including Gayle King, and Jessica Mulroney, who were all seen making their way home on Wednesday evening after enjoying the intimate five-hour celebration. 

And it seems as though the no-expenses-spared event went off without a hitch – at least if Amal’s beaming smile as she left the party was anything to go by. 

The 41-year-old human rights lawyer, who is reported to have co-hosted the extravagant event alongside tennis pro Serena, 37, was pictured grinning from ear-to-ear as she made her way out of The Mark hotel on New York’s Upper East Side, after spending several hours celebrating Meghan’s unborn baby alongside the likes of TV anchor Gayle, stylist Jessica, and designer Misha Nonoo.  

Amal lead the charge of departures, which began around five hours after Meghan’s high-profile guests were seen arriving at the hotel for the event, which is believed to have been the main reason for the duchess’s surprise five-night trip to the Big Apple – her first since she wed Prince Harry in May 2018. 

The glamorous fashion star brought some bold color to a snowy and gray New York day by wearing a scarlet Sergio Hudson jumpsuit, which she paired with trendy $745 PVC and gold heels from Gianvito Rossi, before slinging a vintage Chanel jacket around her shoulders in a style favored by fashion editors the world over. 

Co-host Amal finished off the ensemble with a pair of doorknocker-style earrings, glamorous makeup, and loose waves in her long brunette locks, which she had tucked over one shoulder as she made her way out of the venue, before heading to The Carlyle, another luxury five-star hotel located less than a block away from The Mark.

Taking it easy: Meghan made sure to keep a protective hand on her baby bump as she made her way out of The Mark hotel at around 7pm, around two hours after her baby shower ended

Stylish: The Duchess of Sussex was carrying a $395 leather tote bag from Cuyana, a brand that she is known to favor, and one which her makeup artist Daniel Martin has also partnered with in the past 

Watchful eye: Meghan was escorted out of the hotel by several officers from the US State Department (seen far right), who have been helping to guard her throughout her trip to New York 

And she was not the only one who pulled out all the stops style-wise; the lucky guests invited to attend the event turned the city sidewalk into a fascinating spectator sport, when they began both arriving at and departing from the swanky venue where the event was being held – battling through snow and sleet in the process. 

Human rights lawyer Amal, who is married to actor George, was joined at the venue by a host of Meghan’s nearest and dearest, including designer TV anchor Gayle King, designer Misha Nonoo, stylist Jessica Mulroney, Suits star Abigail Spencer, and makeup artist Daniel Martin. Her co-host Serena, 37, was already at The Mark, having chosen to stay at the hotel with Meghan the night before.

Interestingly, Meghan’s mother Doria Ragland, 62, who is arguably her closest and most beloved family member, was not present, and was actually pictured at home in Los Angeles at the same time the shower was taking place in New York City. 

There were however plenty of other guests on hand to ensure that Meghan had a wonderful afternoon, with many of them strutting their stuff for the cameras on their way into The Mark, which has turned into something of a tourist hotspot in the days since Meghan’s arrival in Manhattan.

But it was Amal who truly stole the sidewalk fashion show, turning heads in her bright red Sergio Hudson jumpsuit, which she paired with trendy $745 PVC and gold heels from Gianvito Rossi. The final piece of her look was a stylish navy overcoat that was effortlessly thrown around her shoulders. 

Meghan and Amal are thought to have been friends for several years now, having been brought together by their respective husbands, actor George and Prince Harry, who have been close pals for many years. 

The foursome are said to have spent a lot of time together, thanks in large part to the fact that they are all based in the UK, with George, 57, and Amal residing in a stunning property in Oxfordshire, which Meghan and Harry are believed to have visited on a number of occasions. 

Earlier this month, George actually spoke out to defend Meghan, insisting she has been ‘pursued and vilified’ in the same way that Prince Harry’s late mother Diana was. 

There were also reports that the Hollywood star would be asked by Prince Harry and Meghan to serve as the godfather to their firstborn child, although he was quick to shut down those rumors, explaining that has his hands full with his own twins.

Off she goes! Amal Clooney was pictured with a wide smile on her face as she left Meghan’s baby shower, which she co-hosted with Serena Williams in a $75,000-a-night penthouse suite at The Mark hotel in New York City 

Lady in red: After leaving The Mark (left), Amal made her way back to The Carlyle (right), an equally luxury hotel that is located less than a block away from the venue of Meghan’s shower

Getting in there: Co-host Serena, 37, stayed at The Mark with Meghan on Tuesday night and did not emerge on Wednesday afternoon, however she took to Instagram on in the morning to promote the own-brand outfit she was wearing

But Amal clearly still wanted to play a key role in the celebration of Meghan’s unborn child, and by all accounts was one of the driving forces behind the shower, along with tennis pro Serena. 

Amal was one of the earlier arrivals at the baby shower venue, turning up at around the same time as Meghan’s close friend and unofficial stylist Jessica Mulroney, who was also stylishly dressed in a long black $750 Mackage overcoat, black pants and a $58 orange turtleneck from Aritzia. 

Despite the snow, the mother-of-three followed in Amal’s footsteps and wore a pair of chic high heels, opting for a dusty pink-orange shoe that complemented her figure-hugging shirt. 

Many of the guests seemed to ignore the heavy snowfall, perhaps opting for style over comfort and practicality in light of the special occasion and the hoards of photographers stationed outside waiting to snap their picture.  

CBS co-anchor Gayle King, 64, arrived at the shower in a very bright outfit, wearing a bright purple coat and a pink and purple furry scarf over a bright pink dress. She added a pair of matching pointed-toe heels to the look, and also added a brightly-colored rainbow snakeskin-print clutch bag, which actually perfectly matched the large rainbow gift bag she also had in her hand.  

Gayle was perhaps most the surprising guest at the shower; her friendship with Meghan is not something she has commented on previously, although her best friend Oprah is known to have formed a close bond with the duchess and her mother, and actually attended the royal wedding back in May. 

Her friend Gayle meanwhile was tasked with covering the event for CBS, a job she took on with great enthusiasm and energy, even revealing at the time that she was something of a royal fan, particularly when it came to Prince Harry’s late mother Princess Diana.

‘I’ve loved the royals for a long time,’ she said of her trip to London to cover the wedding. ‘I was the girl who got up to watch Princess Diana get married, because I thought she was so cool. There was just something about her that was so different, so I followed everything about her… from the courtship to the marriage and then, unfortunately, to the funeral.

‘To see the video of William and Harry walking behind the casket, I remember thinking, “I hope her boys are going to be OK,” Now, to see them all grown up, it’s all very exciting to me.’

Strutting her stuff: Meghan’s unofficial stylist Jessica Mulroney attended the shower, and was pictured arriving at the venue on Wednesday wearing a chic ensemble, including a long black $750 Mackage coat, black pants and a $58 Aritzia turtleneck 

A double celebration: Newly-engaged designer Misha Nonoo – who is credited with introducing Meghan and Prince Harry – was seen carrying a large white bag from high-end interiors company Rani Arabella into the hotel

The party starter: Meghan’s former Suits co-star Abigail Spencer was one of the first guests to arrive at the venue, with the actress making a very low-key entrance wearing the very same black cap that Meghan was pictured leaving the hotel in 

She did actually get the chance to meet and spend time with Prince Harry in the summer of 2017 however, revealing that she and the royal ended up at the same retreat together, and ended up having dinner along with British TV host James Corden. 

‘I’m not saying that Harry and I are great pals, but it was fun to spend even a little bit of time with him,’ Gayle said of the exciting encounter.

Meghan’s former Suits co-star Abigail Spencer was the first guest to arrive at the hotel, and she was followed closely by the duchess’s makeup artist Daniel Martin, the man behind the royal’s stunning bridal beauty look for her wedding to Prince Harry last May. 

Daniel, who is a brand ambassador for Dior Beauty, was quite literally wearing his heart on his chest when he arrived at the hotel in an all-black ensemble that included a hoodie with the message, ‘Thank you for being a friend’ written across it in white lettering. 

The hoodie, which is from trendy brand Ami, is by no means you’re average sports store sweatshirt however, with the stylish item costing an impressive $290. That price pales in comparison to the makeup artist’s Off-White x Nike sneakers, however, which retailed for a staggering $749 per pair.   

37-year-old Abigail meanwhile, was wearing a long flowing skirt and a black sweater, but concealed her face somewhat in a dark baseball cap and large sunglasses. 

No show: Interestingly, Meghan’s mother Doria Ragland, 62, was not in attendance at the shower, and was photographed at home in Los Angeles at the same time that the event was taking place in New York

She was also laden with bags when she turned up at the hotel, arriving just a few minutes before Daniel with a silver Away carry-on, a large brown paper bag – likely filled with a gift for Meghan – and two other, smaller purses, one over each shoulder. 

Interestingly, her metallic suitcase was by the same brand that donated $225 carry-on bags to each of the guests at the shower; two women were seen stacking up the luggage outside of the hotel earlier on in the day before wheeling it into the venue for the event.

The Suits star was quickly relieved of the items however, with a helpful staff member rushing to her aid in order to bring the larger bags into the hotel for her, allowing her to better showcase her boho-inspired look.  

It had been previously reported that Meghan’s shower, which is said to be the main reason for the seven-months-pregnant royal’s secret trip to the Big Apple, had taken place on Tuesday, however a source later revealed that it was actually scheduled for Wednesday, shortly before Meghan is set to return to London. 

Speaking to Tatler, the insider revealed that the baby shower would be held in the Grand Penthouse Suite at The Mark hotel on New York’s Upper East Side, where Meghan and her friend Serena, 37, stayed on Tuesday evening, after enjoying dinner together at a swanky Manhattan restaurant. 

Although it is not known whether Meghan has been staying in the penthouse for her entire trip – which began on Friday when she flew in from London after spending Valentine’s Day with her husband Prince Harry – the location was picked as the perfect place to host the duchess and several of her closest pals while they celebrated the upcoming arrival of Meghan and Harry’s first child.  

Described by the hotel as ‘A Castle in the Sky’, the 10,000sq ft suite boasts every luxury, including a 2,500sq ft rooftop terrace overlooking Central Park, five bedrooms, four fireplaces, six bathrooms, two powder rooms, two wet bars, a dining room, a conservatory, and a living room that can be ‘transformed into a full-size Grand Ballroom’ if desired by guests. 

The two-story penthouse, which is located on the 16th floor of the hotel, is described on The Mark’s website as being ‘lavishly-adorned’ and ‘unprecedentedly spacious’, and features ‘majestic’ interior decor designed by legendary French interior designer Jacques Grange.

According to Tatler’s source, the location was chosen by Serena, who is a long-time fan of The Mark’s in-house restaurant, The Mark by Jean-Georges, a renowned chef whose flagship restaurant on Central Park West boasts two Michelin stars, however she is not thought to have stayed at the hotel before Tuesday night, after she and Meghan enjoyed dinner with two of the royal’s closest friends Jessica Mulroney and Markus Anderson.

Mother-of-one Serena is also said to be footing the bill for the use of the pricey hotel room, who has been a close friend of Meghan’s since they first met in 2010.  She is said to have chosen the location after ‘visiting several other properties in the area’, according to the source.  

The inside source also revealed that the shower was set to include a host of elegant activities, kicking off with a flower arranging lesson that will be accompanied by a variety of delicious desserts prepared especially by the hotel restaurant’s head chef, Jean-Georges Vongerichten.

Long-time pal: Soho House consultant Markus Anderson, who was not seen arriving at the event, made his way out of the hotel just in front of several $225 Away carry-on suitcases that were gifted were guests at the shower

Glam squad! The seven-months-pregnant duchess’s makeup artist Daniel Martin – the man behind her bridal beauty look for her wedding to Prince Harry – was also among the first to arrive, no doubt because he was helping her to get ready 

Fitness favorite! Trainer Taryn Toomey, creator of a workout called The Class that is loved by the likes of Naomi Watts and Jennifer Aniston, arrived at the event carrying two large white bags and a large sports bag

Party people: Many of the guests came baring gifts, with one woman carrying what appeared to be a cake (right), while fashion publicist Celine Khavarani (left) brought a white bag with her

Firm friend: One of Meghan’s oldest pals, Lindsay Roth, who she at Northwestern University, was one of the final guests to arrive, carrying with her a colorful gift bag with two elephants on the side

Feeling blue: One guest thought to be Meghan’s sorority sister Genevieve Hillis (left) made the brave decision to go bare-legged, despite the chilly weather, while a man seen carrying two gift bags (right), looked much cozier in his winterwear

Jean-Georges himself was believed to have be present at the start of the event in order to personally greet Meghan and her guests upon their arrival in the suite.  

Other guests pictured arriving at The Mark ahead of the baby shower included newly-engaged designer Misha Nonoo, who looked chic in a gray plaid coat, Lindsay Roth, Meghan’s closest pal from Northwester University, and fashion publicist Celine Khavarani.

Misha, who seems to have spent a lot of time with Meghan since the royal arrived in the US on Friday, looked every inch the fashion favorite as she made her way into the event, wearing a short black skirt and a simple gray sweater under her long button-up jacket. 

She finished the look off with a pair of heeled boots and a black and white purse with a gold chain handle; Misha, who got engaged to oil heir Michael ‘Mikey’ Hess during a Valentine’s Day getaway in Mexico, was also seen carrying a white shopping bag from high-end interiors store Rani Arabella. 

The company sells all manner of luxury home decor pieces,   

It was also reported that hairstylist Serge Normant – the man who styled Meghan’s locks for the royal wedding – was due to be in attendance – as was Soho House consultant Markus Anderson, who is believed to have had a hand in arranging Meghan and Harry’s first blind date, and was pictured heading to dinner with the royal at The Polo Bar on Tuesday night.    

NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment Group chairman Bonnie Hammer was also included in the names of potential guests, however none of them were photographed outside the venue on Wednesday. 

Interestingly, no other royals were in attendance at the event; Prince Harry’s cousin Princess Beatrice, who actually lives in New York City, where she works at software firm Afiniti as the vice president of partnerships, was not pictured at the hotel on Wednesday, nor is she thought to have made an undercover appearance at the event. 

Meghan’s sister-in-law Kate Middleton also failed to attend the event – as did Meghan’s mother Doria, who made for a rather surprising absence, given how close she and her daughter are known to be. 

It had originally been suggested that Meghan’s long-time friend Jessica was spear-heading the organization of the event, however Tatler’s source says that it is officially being co-hosted by Serena and Amal, 41, who attended Meghan and Harry’s wedding along with her husband George, who recently spoke out to blast the media’s treatment of the pregnant duchess during a press conference. 

Meghan’s close pal and fellow screen star Priyanka Chopra, who was a guest at the former Suits star’s wedding to Prince Harry, all but confirmed that she would not be attending the baby shower, when she posted a selfie on her Instagram account on Tuesday afternoon, and listed Beverly Hills, California, as the geographical location of the snap. 

It was thought that Priyanka – who, like Meghan spent Valentine’s Day in the UK – might have joined the royal on her trip over to the Big Apple in time for the shower, but it now appears that is not the case.   

Meanwhile, pilates instructor Heather Dorak, another close friend who attended the royal wedding, welcomed her second child, a baby boy named Cody Cohen, on Valentine’s Day, which presumably left her unable to attend the event.  

But before any of Meghan’s lucky guests were seen arriving, The Mark was abuzz with furious activity as staff prepared for the very high-profile event, with numerous deliveries seen being made throughout the morning, from catering boxes to a stack of Away carry-on suitcases to harpist Erin Hill, who brought her instrument and music stand with her.

The catering delivery included several boxes marked with the name ‘Jean-Georges’, suggesting they are supplies for the food he will be preparing for the mother-to-be and her guests, as well as a cotton candy machine, which may well be used to whip up some sweet treats for the party. 

And that’s not the only treat in-store for Meghan and her guests; shortly after the catering delivery, around 17 carry-on suitcases from trendy travel brand Away were seen being wheeled into the hotel on a luggage cart, each encased in its own white branded dust bag. 

The suitcases, which have been carried by a host of celebrities, including the likes of Elizabeth Olsen and Hailey Bieber, cost $225 each, and were – a source told – gifted to the pregnant royal by the brand. It is highly likely that the suitcases, which each come with their own removable battery, will be given to each guest at the shower, potentially in order to carry other gifts that they may receive. 

Something fun! It appears as though one of the guests brought a bike for Meghan’s unborn child, with a staff member from the hotel seen carrying the large Trek box into the venue. The brand’s kids’ bikes start at $169.99 and go up to $1,049.99

Something special? A large garment bag was one of many deliveries seen being made to the hotel ahead of the baby shower 

Stack ’em up! Not long before the shower was due to start, around 17 $225 carry-on suitcases from trendy travel brand Away were delivered to the hotel

The entertainment! Harpist Erin Hill was seen wheeling her large instrument into the venue, suggesting that she may providing music for the guests at the shower to enjoy 

Sweet treats! A team of caterers was also seen delivering several boxes, including a cotton candy machine, which may well be intended for Meghan’s shower

Shortly after the suitcases were wheeled into the hotel, renowned harpist Erin Hill arrived at the location, wheeling her large instrument into the venue, while a helper followed on with her music stand – sparking speculation that she will be providing at least some of the entertainment at the lavish bash.

On Tuesday evening, Meghan was pictured heading out to Ralph Lauren’s swanky restaurant The Polo Bar on Tuesday night alongside fellow mothers Serena and Jessica, perhaps finalizing plans for the lavish baby shower set to take place today. 

Despite a busy day spent catching up with friends, Meghan looked fresh-faced and full of energy as she arrived at the high-end eatery – which is also known to be a favorite of President Donald Trump’s, and is located just a few block’s from his tower on Fifth Avenue. 

The party spent three hours inside the restaurant before stepping back out into the chilly New York night. Meghan and Serena were then spotted arriving back at their lavish hotel, The Mark, on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.

Jessica, a Canadian stylist who has been helping best friend Meghan with her outfit choices for years and has three children: twins Brian and John, aged eight, and daughter Isabel, aged five. Serena has a one daughter, Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr, aged one.

Mother-to-be Meghan looked every inch the glamorous royal as she made her way into the restaurant, escorted by the same group of burly officers from the State Department and royal protection officers. 

The pregnant duchess recycled the same $3,085 (£2,250) navy Victoria Beckham coat that she was seen wearing in images published exclusively by on Monday evening – the first photos taken of Meghan since she arrived in the Big Apple on Friday evening. 

She paired the chic double-breasted coat with a black scarf, a pair of black satin boots – thought to be from Isabel Marant – and a $1,140 (£915) black chain-handle handbag by vegan designer Stella McCartney. 

Meghan also modeled a much more glamorous makeup look than she had been seen wearing during the day, modeling a dark smokey eyeshadow, while emphasizing her natural pregnancy glow with some highlighter and bronzer. 

As the former actress climbed out of her SUV – which appeared to be the same State Department vehicle she has been using all day – she couldn’t help but flash a wide smile, no doubt at the prospect of spending an evening with some of her closest pals, many of whom live an ocean away from the royal’s home with Prince Harry at Kensington Palace. 

Lavish: The baby shower is taking place in the Penthouse Suite at The Mark, which is widely reported to be the most expensive per-night hotel room in the US

Plenty of room! The large suite, which has a stately dining room, is more than capable of accommodating Meghan and 15 of her closest friends, with many reports suggesting that is how many were invited to attend the intimate celebration

Queen of the castle: The 10,000sq ft penthouse, which is described by The Mark as ‘A Castle in the Sky’ boasts a 2,500sq ft roof terrace that overlooks Central Park 

Views: There is also a conservatory in the penthouse, meaning that Meghan and her guests will be able to enjoy the impressive views from the comfort of the suite, instead of facing the chilly weather

Relaxation: The penthouse features multiple common areas where Meghan and her guests can sit and relax, including a Library Lounge that has plenty of books stacked up for patrons to enjoy

Cozy: There are four fireplaces scattered throughout the enormous suite, including several of the general living areas (left), and there are also five bedrooms, although it is not thought that Meghan is using the suite to stay in 

Meghan’s husband may well have been in her mind however thanks to the choice of venue. 

Not only is The Polo Bar known to be a much-loved celebrity haunt, the restaurant is also themed entirely around the popular equestrian sport from which it takes its name, a sport that Prince Harry has been playing for decades. 

Meghan and Serena have actually watched one of Harry’s polo matches together, along with the tennis pro’s husband Alexis Ohanian, who joined the two women to cheer on the prince in the Audi Polo Challenge in Oxfordshire back in July, not long after Meghan and Harry tied the knot. 

And there would have been plenty of reminders of that fun summer day inside the restaurant.  

In the main dining room, which is located downstairs, diners are met with a myriad of equestrian-themed artworks that cover the walls, while riding helmets and polo mallets can be found hanging on hooks near the bathroom, just waiting for a few social media-savvy patrons to pose for a photo or two. 

Upstairs, the is an intimate bar area, where diners can enjoy one of the many cocktails on the extensive menu, which not only features classic cocktails like the Moscow Mule and the Old Fashioned, it also boasts a number of signature reserve cocktails, including the Jockey Club and the Improved Negroni. 

There is even a drink on the menu named after Meghan’s father-in-law, the Prince of Wales, a $22 drink that is made of High West Rendezvous Rye, Cherry Heering, honey, pineapple, and Champagne.

The restaurant also boasts an extensive wine list, featuring bottles from around the world, including a particularly pricey $18,000 1891 Brunello di Montalcino. 

As for the food, which was no doubt pregnant Meghan’s focus, as opposed to the alcohol offerings, The Polo Bar boasts a host of classic American dishes, from a house chopped salad that retails for $18 to a 16oz New York strip steak, which costs $55. 

The restaurant even has its own signature hot dog, the $20 RRL Hot Dog, which comes complete with sauerkraut, sweet relish and mustard, all served on a toasted brioche bun. 

Having opened in early 2015, The Polo Bar quickly became one of New York’s most popular eateries for high-profile diners, and has played host to everyone from Hillary Clinton to Gwyneth Paltrow. 

President Trump, Melania, and their son Barron also enjoyed dinner at the eatery back in June 2016, the night before Donald’s 70th birthday, and just a few months before he went on to win the presidential election against Clinton.  

Meghan’s evening outing came after a busy day of activities for the royal, which started early in the afternoon when she was seen leaving high-end New York hotel The Mark to enjoy an afternoon out. 

The seven-months pregnant royal was seen cradling her baby bump as she made her way to Met Breuer museum, which is located just a few blocks away from The Mark hotel – with her former Suits co-star Abigail Spencer joining her for the quick city jaunt.

Moments earlier, Meghan was pictured walking out of the five-star hotel at 1:05 pm, once again keeping a hand rested on her growing bump, surrounded by armed officers thought to be from the State Department, as well as several plain clothes royal protection officers, just moments after her close friend and former Suits co-star Abigail Spencer was pictured making her way into the venue.

On the town! On Tuesday evening, the 37-year-old royal was pictured heading to dinner at Ralph Lauren’s restaurant The Polo Bar alongside Serena, Jessica Mulroney, and Soho House consultant Markus Anderson

Gal pals! The pregnant royal was joined by mother-of-one Serena, 37, who looked trendy in her low-key outfit of black jeans, a black sweater, and a long black jacket with fun pink plaid detailing on the sleeves and sides

The pair were all smiles as they walked out of the midtown Manhattan restaurant on a chilly night 

Here we go: Markus, who is thought to have had a hand in setting up Meghan and Prince Harry, linked arms with his royal pal to walk alongside her as they headed into the restaurant together

She looked up from her hand towards a waiting crowd of fans and photographers as she finished the short trip back to her hotel, a few blocks away from The Polo Bar

Taking advantage of what is a bright and sunny day in the Big Apple, Meghan wore a vintage gray Courrèges coat for her surprise outing, pairing the outerwear with some skinny black jeans, and some nude suede heels. 

She accessorized her ensemble with a pair of dark sunglasses, which hid much of her face from the cameras, and was seen carrying a dove-gray handbag in the crook of her right arm, while the other hand was planted firmly on her large bump. 

Meghan was accompanied on the trip by what appeared to be several members of hotel security, as well as a handful of plain clothes police officers, including the same man seen escorting the mother-to-be out of a Manhattan apartment on Monday evening. 

Other than her impressive security detail, the royal appeared to be along as she made her way past photographers and into a waiting SUV, which had Department of State license plates. 

From there, she traveled the two-block distance to the Met Breuer museum, arriving at 1:10 pm, and was pictured spending time in the restaurant after her arrival, however a source revealed that she also found time during her 30-minute visit to take in some of the museum’s artworks during a tour around one of the galleries, noting that the Duchess ‘looked beautiful’ during her visit. 

However a source at the museum told that Meghan was initially supposed to have lunch at the Met Breuer, but made a last-minute change of plans because the venue was felt to be ‘too public’ thanks to the large windows in the restaurant, which make it easily viewable from the street outside. 

Because of this, Meghan, Abigail, and their entourage of protection officers, chose a more secure, private location for the royal to enjoy more of an incognito lunch – The Surrey hotel.  

Meghan’s very brief trip to the Met Breuer was enough to provide a bit of excitement and intrigue for some however, with a few social media users sharing their shock at running into her in the art gallery – with one person revealing that they bumped into the duchess in the bathroom. 

‘I went to see Julio le Parc at the Met Breuer and also ran into Meghan Markle in the bathroom,’ Instagram user Ashley Toth wrote, while sharing an image of one of le Parc’s pieces. Ashley then saw the duchess again while ‘walking home’, sharing an image of Meghan and Abigail exiting The Surrey hotel. 

Actress Abigail, also 37, also joined the royal at the museum, before the pair left together to walk the short distance across the street to The Surrey hotel – another high-end establishment that has played host to a slew of high-profile clients, from JFK to Bette Davis. 

Meghan and Abigail were flanked by two of the same royal protection officers seen escorting Meghan out of The Mark, with Meghan walking just a few paces ahead of her friend, flashing her three-diamond engagement ring as she placed her hand on her baby bump while crossing the road. 

Suits star Abigail was wearing the same red patterned shirt dress that she was seen modeling when she arrived at the hotel earlier on, but she had abandoned the gray beanie that she sported with it; she also traded the thick fur-trim parka she had been sporting, in favor of a more lightweight black jacket, allowing her to show off more of her colorful dress. 

The duo spent just over an hour at The Surrey, perhaps taking the time to enjoy a light lunch. 

At approximately 3pm, the friends were seen leaving the hotel in order to make the very short journey back to The Mark, arriving around three minutes later – presumably just in time to start getting ready for the main event of the day, Meghan’s baby shower. 

Chic: The Polo Bar boasts a sprawling downstairs dining room that affords patrons plenty of privacy from the outside world, while allowing them the opportunity to enjoy numerous equestrian-themed works of art 

Memories! No doubt the theme of the restaurant brought back fond memories for Meghan, whose husband Prince Harry, seen in June, has been a keen polo player since he was a young boy, as are his father Prince Charles, and brother Prince William

Close bond: Meghan has seen her fair share of polo matches since starting her romance with Prince Harry, and always appears happy to lend her support at the side of the field, as she did back in July 

Shortly after their return, newly-engaged designer Misha Nonoo – the woman credited with introducing Prince Harry and Meghan – was seen arriving at The Mark, having spent much of the day at her studio in NoHo, before going to join her royal pal.  

It is a double celebration for Misha, 34, who got engaged to oil heir Michael ‘Mikey’ Hess, 32, during a Valentine’s vacation in Mexico, with the groom-to-be proudly sharing the happy news on social media, before the designer was seen wearing her dazzling new diamond ring while out and about in New York on Tuesday. 

That same ring was front and center as Misha made her way into The Mark, wearing the same chic, but low-key, outfit that she was pictured modeling earlier in the day, when she left her Manhattan apartment in the morning, and when she stepped out to grab a salad for lunch. 

The bride-to-be bundled up against the chilly New York weather in a dark blue overcoat, black tights, and a bright red scarf, finishing the look off with a pair of heeled black ankle boots. 

Misha was also seen carrying her iPhone, and a small personalized red purse that had her initials MN embossed on the bottom corner.

Although Meghan managed to spend a few hours away from the hotel, the venue was still alight with feverish activity even in her absence, with crowds gathering outside its main entrance in the hopes of catching a glimpse of the duchess, one of her close friends and guests – or at the very least one of the many fascinating deliveries arriving ahead of her shower on Wednesday. 

Abigail was the first of the royal’s nearest and dearest to be seen making their way into The Mark hotel on New York’s Upper East Side – trying to maintain a low profile by wearing a gray beanie hat and large, dark sunglasses as she made her way inside, flashing a wave at the waiting photographers on her way in.  

She spent just a few minutes in the hotel, taking the time to change up her outfit slightly, before heading out again to join Meghan at the Met Breuer.  

Time for some culture: Earlier in the day, Meghan spent time enjoying the sights and sounds of the Upper East Side, including a trip to the Met Breuer art museum

Swapping it up: The royal reportedly wanted to have lunch at the Met Breuer, however the museum’s restaurant was deemed ‘too public’ because of its vast windows that could be seen from the street, a source told 

Outing: After visiting the Met Breuer, Meghan and her former Suits co-star (pictured to the right) walked across the street from the museum to another hotel – this time The Surrey, another high-end venue located just a stone’s throw from The Mark

Gal pals: Meghan and Abigail are thought to have enjoyed a spot of lunch at The Surrey, before leaving the high-end hotel and making their way back to The Mark

Ready to party! Meghan arrived back at The Mark shortly after 3pm

Here come the guests! Just after the duo’s return, newly-engaged designer Misha Nonoo – the woman credited with introducing Prince Harry and Meghan – was seen making her way into The Mark

Abigail first sparked speculation that she had traveled to the Big Apple for the special occasion after sharing an airport selfie on her Instagram account on Monday – less than 24 hours before she was seen making her way into The Mark, shortly after bouquets of flowers, an orange tree, and a $380 travel crib were seen being delivered to the swanky venue. 

As well as her shades and hat, the actress was dressed in a thick black parka with a fur-lined hood upon her arrival, showing off just a hint of the more colorful, stylish pink dress seen poking out from underneath the thick winterwear.   

Meghan managed to make a very under-the-radar arrival in the city however, going almost entirely unseen by the public over the weekend, after reportedly arriving on Friday evening. 

On Monday night, the duchess attempted to go incognito as she covered up in a cap and long navy Victoria Beckham overcoat and a gray newsboy cap pulled down over her dark brown hair – and with her large diamond engagement ring clearly visible on her wedding finger. 

Meghan returned to the Big Apple over the weekend to spend time with her girlfriends before the arrival of her first child this spring, and was seen on Monday evening being escorted into an SUV by a royal protection officer. 

The palace declined to comment on Meghan’s security detail for the duration of the trip, or the plain clothes officer seen accompanying her. 

Meghan is understood to have flown into the city on Friday for a surprise five-day trip after spending a quiet Valentine’s Day evening with her husband, Prince Harry. A spokesperson for Kensington Palace would not divulge details of the Duchess’s flights, but confirmed that as this is a personal trip, her travel was ‘privately funded’.  

Caught up! Several people were seen making their way into the hotel either shortly before or after Meghan’s return, however it is thought that a number of them were guests arriving for a stay, rather than attendees of the royals’ baby shower

Lightweight! There were a few people seen arriving without suitcases in tow, suggesting that they were there for something less long-term than a hotel stay, and were perhaps lucky enough to be attending the shower 

Gifts for the baby? One woman was pictured arriving at The Mark with two large bags from Crate & Barrel, which may well have been filled with presents for expectant mother Meghan 

Honored guests: Meghan’s close friend and former co-star Abigail Spencer was arriving at The Mark hotel shortly before the royal was pictured leaving the venue

Special delivery! Her arrival comes shortly after a huge bucket of pink roses was seen being delivered to The Mark on Tuesday afternoon, ahead of Meghan’s lavish baby shower 

For luck: An orange tree was also seen being delivered to the hotel ahead of the baby shower; in Eastern tradition, mandarin oranges are believed to represent prosperity, happiness and luck, particularly in the New Year

‘The trip is a lovely chance to catch up with friends and spend time in a city she loves.’

This will be the last time a lot of them will see Meg until after the baby is born so it’s nice to share precious moments,’ a source told Harper’s Bazaar. 

Meghan kept her head down as she made her way to the SUV on Monday night, with her dark hair covering the side of her face. She carried a second wide-brimmed black hat – believed to be a £160 ($195) design from Rag & Bone – in her hand, along with a white bag. 

But while the Duchess of Sussex appeared to be making an attempt to go under the radar in her low-key ensemble, the large diamond engagement ring on her wedding finger was unmistakable. 

Her husband had the three-stone design made for her especially ahead of their engagement in 2017, using one diamond that he sourced in Botswana, where the couple holidayed together early on in their relationship.  

The dazzling design was clearly visible as Meghan made her way down the steps and into the car, carrying her spare hat and a simple white bag that may well have contained a gift. 

Her nails appeared to be painted with a subtle sheer pink shade – a much more low-key polish option than some of the darker, bolder colours she has been known to model, despite royal traditions suggesting that only the most subtle of nude shades should be worn. 

In her other arm, the expectant mother had a large gray leather handbag held in the crook of her elbow.  

Incognito: Meghan Markle was seen stepping out in New York City on Monday evening after flying into the city to attend a baby shower organized by her closest friends 

Catching up: This trip is thought to be the last one that Meghan (pictured left and right with her husband in London last week) will make to the US before the birth of her child in a few months 

The bodyguard who escorted her to her waiting vehicle also appeared to be carrying a few of her possessions, including a Lululemon tote bag that was covered with Meghan’s tan wool coat, suggesting the royal may have had more than one outfit option on-hand.   

The visit marks the first time the Duchess of Sussex has been in the Big Apple since she said ‘I do’ to Prince Harry in May 2018, and she wasted no time before visiting some of her favorite hot spots.  

‘The trip is a lovely chance to catch up with friends and spend time in a city she loves,’ a source told the outlet.

‘This will be the last time a lot of them will see Meg until after the baby is born so it’s nice to share precious moments.’

But while the trip may have come as a surprise to some, according to the unidentified friend of the royal’s, Meghan’s visit to the Big Apple was actually planned months ago.

‘It’s been a relaxing visit. Nothing beats face time with your friends,’ the person added. ‘Meg will be flying home refreshed and relaxed – and with a lot of new baby clothes.’  

Meghan joined Jessica at Ladurée in SoHo on Saturday to enjoy macarons and tea in one of the location’s private spaces, according to Harper’s Bazaar.

Although Jessica is based in Canada, she arrived in New York late last week to film some style segments for Good Morning America, after being named the show’s newest fashion contributor in late 2018.  

Way back when: Meghan Markle once did a photo shoot for fashion brand Tod’s in the ornate French restaurant 

Big Apple fun: A source said the trip is a chance for Meghan to ‘catch up with friends and spend time in a city she loves.’ The former actress is pictured in New York City in 2016 

Royal return: The visit marks the first time Meghan has been in the Big Apple since she said ‘I do’ to Prince Harry in May 2018. The couple is expecting their first child this spring 

The decision to visit Ladurée may well have been Meghan’s however, as the known foodie once took part in a photo shoot for Tod’s in the ornately decorated French restaurant. 

In an image from the shoot, she is seen sitting in the New York tourist hotspot, wearing a patterned suit, a white shirt, and a pair of silver Tod’s loafers with fringing detail on the front. 

Her makeup for the shoot was rather more glamorous than the subtle, natural looks she seems to prefer now; in the photo, Meghan can be seen modeling a bright pink lip, and dark, smokey eyes, while staring right into the lens with a very serious expression on her face. 

But it seems the somewhat unimpressed look she was making in the shot does not reflect her feelings about the French eatery, which is famed for its colorful confections and wide variety of teas, as well as its elegant interior. 

The Duchess also praised the restaurant in an interview with writer Barry Samaha. 

‘I love Ladurée in SoHo,’ she said. ‘It’s like a little slice of Paris in the middle of New York City. 

‘It is absolutely beautiful, and the courtyard is awesome,’ she added. ‘Everyone should get the Coupe SoHo, which is this amazing salted caramel ice cream. It’s delicious!’ 

And it’s not just Ladurée that holds a special place in Meghan’s heart; the Duchess spoke on a number of occasions about her love for New York City and its many restaurants, bars, hotels, and shops, even giving the website Citiphile a full rundown of her favorite spots back while she was still starring as Rachel Zane in Suits. 

During the interview with the site, Meghan referenced several much-loved New York establishments, including the Marlton Hotel, Italian eatery Babbo, piano bar Marie’s Crisis, and West Village favorite Fedora – which she praised for its dirty martinis. 

But according to sources, when Meghan isn’t indulging in pastries from Ladurée, she will be spending much of her time enjoying the many amenities at the undisclosed five-star hotel where she is believed to be staying for the duration of her trip. 

The day before she flew to New York, Meghan enjoyed a quiet Valentine’s Day evening with Prince Harry, their first as a married couple.   

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9-year-old model who’s booked for 3 fashion weeks practiced her walk with her 2-year-old pup

9-year-old model who’s booked for 3 fashion weeks practiced her walk with her 2-year-old pup

A nine-year-old girl who has walked the runway at London and New York Fashion Week says she perfected her model strut while out walking her four-legged friend.

Lilly-Ella Redcliffe, from St Helens, Merseyside, was thrilled when she received the news that she had secured three Fashion Week jobs, and was even picked to model for other designers after impressing the crowds.

The youngster, who has been signed up to a modelling agency since she was a baby, was able to practise along her street with the help of her furry friend Teddy, a two-year-old pug. 

And she is now set to walk the runway at Milan Fashion Week in February in 2020.

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Nine-year-old Lilly-Ella Redcliffe, from St Helens, Merseyside, pictured walking her pug Teddy, two, who helped her practice for the Fashion Week runways. Lily-Ella and Teddy are the best of friends and Teddy helped her perfecting her poses for the catwalk

Dream gig: The fashion-focused youngster on the Athea Couture catwalk at London Fashion Week in Feburary

Confidence: Lilly-Ella posing for the camera. The young model’s mother, Emma Redcliffe, 36, says her daughter loves putting outfits together

Lilly-Ella’s mother, Emma Redcliffe, a 36-year-old beauty therapist, said: ‘She modelled a little bit as a baby, but when she started school she was very shy and not very confident.

‘We saw a poster advertising a drama academy and thought it would be really good for her and so we joined her up.

‘She has just blossomed ever since and has now really come out of her shell, they have been so amazing with her.

‘She was asked to do a pilot for a TV show and then we saw a casting for London Fashion Week and thought we would give it a go. 

The once shy girl has now blossomed into a confident model. In this picture she’s wearing a dress made by a friend of her family

The young girl hopes of one day meeting supermodel Gigi Hadid, one of her role models (pictured: Lilly-Ella striking a pose on the streets of St Helens)

Lily-Ella posing on the Chrissie Colton catwalk during New York Fashion Week. The young model flew to New York for this year’s Fashion Week and took part in London’s Fashion Week as well

‘One of the designers, Chrissie Colton, came back to us and said she would like Lilly-Ella to walk in her show and we couldn’t believe it.

‘After that, the offers just kept coming. She has a really close bond with Teddy and it is so sweet to see them practising up and down the street together.’

Lilly-Ella is well on her way to stardom having already graced two of the most famous runways in the fashion world and has now been offered a spot at Milan Fashion week.

Lilly-Ella with her mother, Emma, and the family pug, Teddy. Lilly-Ella has been signed up with a modeling agency since she was young

Emma says her daughter is rarely nervous and built her confidence with drama school 

After her first appearance in London, the same designer was keen for Lilly-Ella to join her in New York and her parents Emma and Mark, 57, flew their daughter to the Big Apple for the opportunity back in February, just days after wowing crowds in London.

In New York I was a little bit nervous for the first walk as it was at the start of the show. There are so many photographers, all wanting to takes photos of you… 

Despite being in the spotlight, her mum Emma says that Lilly-Ella is rarely nervous and has since thrived thanks to the help of her little dog and the support from her drama academy. 

She’s now a pro at mixing with the stars and walking in outfits worth hundreds of pounds.

Emma said: ‘She just loves fashion and putting outfits together and would love to meet some of her role models such as Gigi Hadid.

‘She really has her own sense of style and always knows what works well together.

‘She loved the whole experience of going to New York but I think London was her favourite as it was the first time she had ever got to do something like that.’

The school girl now hopes to have a career in the fashion industry with more shows planned such as a charity catwalk in Manchester this May, as well as taking part in productions and choir performances with the Helen O’Grady drama academy as well as the Paparazzi Dance School.

Lily-Ella applying makeup at home. Lilly-Ella has ‘her own sense of style,’ says her mother and always know what clothes go well together

Rocking a Chrissie Colton floral  dress during London Fashion Week; the young model is already booked for the Milan Fashion Week next year

Lilly-Ella, said: ‘In New York I was a little bit nervous for the first walk as it was at the start of the show, it was very exciting to be part of.

‘There are so many photographers, all wanting to takes photos of you. 

‘I practise with Teddy up and down the street and he really helps with my confidence, sometimes he does pull but he like to let me do my thing as he walks alongside me.

‘When I told my friends I was going to New York and London, they were so shocked and were asking loads of questions, calling me to see how I had done.

‘I love the different styles and what the designers ask you to wear, they can be clothes you have never seen before.

‘When you walk down everyone is cheering you on and it’s amazing.’ 

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Is a Helix Studios membership worth the cost?

Is a Helix Studios membership worth the cost?

This Helix Studios review contains sexually explicit language.

Helix Studios certainly knows its lane. The popular gay adult entertainment site bills itself as a destination for those seeking “twink, jock, and college” guys, but you can pretty much strike those latter descriptors from the list. Helix is twinkier than a Glee/Degrassi crossover episode in which they perform a medley of hits by the artist formerly known as L. Gaga. Oh, and everyone in the cast is played by Timothee Chalamet’s gay brother “Tomothy.”

Branding is important in a market as oversaturated as the gay porn industry. But if you like your porn more of the beardy persuasion, caveat emptor.

How much does a Helix Studios membership cost?

Helix Studios membership options:

Helix Studios is moderately priced compared to its competition. Compared to the first two studios that popped into my mind, a Helix Studios membership proves pricier than CockyBoys but generally more reasonable than Lucas Entertainment. Generally.

Oddly enough, the best bargain at Helix is the three-day pass, which is half the price of a similar package at Lucas. Like the arranged-marriage loving parents in Fiddler on the Roof, CockyBoys doesn’t have a short-term option for those who want to browse a bit before they commit to something more serious. Meanwhile, a one-month membership at Helix is $5 cheaper than Lucas but significantly more expensive than CockyBoys—which comes in at a pocketbook-friendly $19.95 per month.

Where things begin to go wrong are the annual packages. A yearlong subscription to Helix will set you back $249.95. While $20.54 a month might not seem that bad, it’s 39 percent more costly than a similar package at Lucas and twice as expensive as CockyBoys’ annual membership.

Thus, if you plan on checking out Helix’s catalog, make it like most of my relationships in my 20s: brief and without any hint this is headed somewhere meaningful.

helix studios gay porn

What are the perks of a Helix Studios membership?

1) The site knows what it is

Many porn studios try to do too much and end up just throwing a bunch of ideas at the wall: erotic tax filing! sexy root canals! thesaurus fetishes! But porn studios don’t have to make their models diddle didgeridoos to attract eyeballs (which is a real thing that happened). They just have to do what they do well, make it accessible to viewers, and not charge a small fortune for it.

Helix Studios understands that principle. Their scenes feature young, hairless-adjacent men getting rammed in bedrooms of a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors. There isn’t a ton of generic variety, and that’s not what anyone is expecting. Helix has clearly tapped into a formula, and it knows how to deliver on that promise.

2) You can search by individual Helix Studios models

Porn stars are like having children: While each child is beautiful and special in its own right, you’re bound to pick favorites. And anyone who watches enough online pornography will eventually have certain adult entertainers they latch onto—people whose videos you follow no matter which site they pop up on. If someone can find Parker London for me and convince him to come back to porn, you can have both of my kidneys and my liver. Don’t worry, I’ll find a way to survive.

For those among us who grow attached, members have the ability to search through Helix’s site and instantly access the videos of all your favorites. Being a relative Helix neophyte, I liked Justin Owen on first glance. He’s got long, pullable hair like a ’90s grunge lion, and who doesn’t love a nice mane you can yank in the sack?

3) It features a catalog of over 3,000 videos

As a company that’s been producing online content for 17 years, you certainly won’t run out of videos on Helix Studios’ website. It’s kind of a hoot actually to go back and watch their early stuff, like the interchangeably named “Kyle By the Pool” and “Poolside Gay Twink Sex.” It’s a delightful stroll down memory lane to the Blu Cantrell-soundtracked days of 2002, when many of us had to watch porn videos pixel by pixel on AOL dial-up while praying our mothers didn’t wake up and ask why us why we were using her Dell at 1am. Because I’m googling Christian hymns, Mom!

In addition to historicizing the past two decades of online porn, its catalog is straightforwardly categorized by theme—meaning you don’t have to click back one page at a time to find what you want. Memorable tags include “spanking,” “jock on twink,” “brunette,” and the oddly ubiquitous “cream pie.” 



4) The level of diversity is… not a total disaster?

Given that the median in the gay porn industry is basically the racial makeup of a Charlottesville rally, the fact that Helix Studios contains a sprinkling of Black models here and there isn’t necessarily anything to boast about. The bar for inclusion is really, really, really low—like internship pool at the Trump White House low.

That said, it was heartening to see that the definition of “twink” on Helix’s website isn’t exclusively white. When the categories of how gay and bisexual men are classified were drawn, they clearly weren’t made with Black, Brown, and Asian men in mind. Terms like “otters,” “bears,” and “seals” (a word I just made up referring to either a smooth man of size or a gay man who stans the Batman Forever soundtrack) more often than not describe white men. When queer men of color are arranged in the gay pantheon, their very ethnicity too often becomes their label: “The Black Guy” or “The Gaysian.”

A not insignificant number of scenes featured on Helix’s website also feature Black models both as tops and bottoms. Because of old stereotypes about Black men and size, Black actors are often boxed into a “dominant” role in porn—the aggressive top tearing up a young specimen. It’s nice to see Helix is willing to think outside the box a bit.

5) There are actual movies for sale!

If you were born after, say, 1995, this section may mean nothing to you. But as someone who was raised among the VHS racks in a video store (my mother managed it; it wasn’t an Oliver Twist thing), seeing a porn site that still sells honest-to-god DVDs warms my rapidly decomposing heart.

Some of the more memorable titles in the Helix Studios video collection include BumFuck Nowhere, Truth or Bareback, Halfway House Hoodlums 2 (back by popular demand!), and the very loosely themed porn parodies Sex, Lies, and Briefcase and Parks and Recreation. And further proving that Helix knows its audience, it has a lot of spanking videos in its catalog: Interview With a Spanker, Spanking Tutors, First-Time Spankings, and (my personal favorite) Spankings at Twink, Inc.

helix studios videos

What was left wanting about Helix Studios?

1) Gimmee, gimmee, gimmee creativity

Look, I’m a simple guy. I don’t need much from my porn. There was a period during my early 20s where I just wanted to watch two muscle dudes wearing tight, brightly colored T-shirts kiss for a while. What I do require, though, is just a hint of invention behind the camera—a little wink showing me that someone is home back there. If not, I will assume we’re trapped in a Black Mirror episode and the porn made itself.

Let’s start with the titles of the individual scenes streaming on Helix Studios. While Helix’s DVDs boast some very enjoyable titles (see: The Big Sneaky Fuckfest, which brings me Marie Kondo-levels of infinite joy), it’s barely trying with the streaming content. Typical 20-minute videos include Raging Hard On, Huge, Shower Sex, and Stuffed, all of which sound like working titles someone forgot to workshop. Some of the names are literally just the titles of popular songs. For instance, there’s Teenage Dream and My Boo, for everyone out there who wanted to see an Alicia Keys-inspired fist-fucking.

Porn titles are one of the best things about porn, aside from the part where the hot people take off their clothes. Where would our society be without Guess Who Came at Dinner, Little Oral Annie, or Sheepless in Montana? Adult entertainment is supposed to be fun, and slapping a juicy, punny title on the cover is a nice reminder of that.


2) Mix up the scenery

From a cinematographic perspective, a lot of the content on Helix Studios is pretty top-notch. It’s not Thelma Schoonmaker, but it more than gets the job done. Anyone who has held a camera knows, however, that it’s not always how you shoot but what you choose to place in the camera’s lens. That’s why it pains me to inform the creative minds at Helix Studios that they really need to spice things up in the sack.

Like a married couple who have been together for 20 years and scheduled sex by Google Calendar, we get a lot of nookie in the exact same places over and over again. Two twinks have a romantic night on the town just to go to… the bedroom. Varsity teammates finally act on their unspoken attraction and then journey to… a bed. Literally, the preview images on Helix’s website is just a sea of mattresses, like a trip to Ashley Furniture no one asked for. You would think no one had ever heard of doing it in the car.

It’s very clear that Helix has honed in on a specific thing and producers like that thing. That’s fine. If it were bad to have a thing and stick to it, Tiffany Haddish wouldn’t be America’s sweetheart. But if every video is more or less a different version of something you’ve already seen, there’s little incentive for Helix customers to stick around after the three-day trial period.

3) The site needs some fresh blood

I’m not immune to the charms of twinkdom; I bought that Troye Sivan album just like the rest of you nerds. But something about constant twink-on-twink action with little variety in body type or even the ages of models gets a little dull. Helix Studios seems to exist in that society from The Giver where you’re murdered on your 25th birthday—y’know, like Menudo.

This may be a personal preference, but I like a little contrast in my porn models. If one is tall, the other should be shorter. Should one be white, the other actor (or actors) might be Filipino or Latino. There’s something about two or multiple people of disparate body types, ages, or life experiences coming together to worship each other’s bodies that’s inherently pretty sexy. It’s also more likely that the viewer is going to be attracted to someone in the movie if everybody looks really different from each other, rather than like a cloning experiment gone wrong.

No one is saying Helix needs to ditch the twinks. But maybe next time, the jailbait schoolboy who just needs to be spanked finds a hot older daddy willing to administer the punishment. Give me 15 years and I’ll volunteer as tribute.


4) Diversity isn’t quite so diverse

Again, I know that I’m apparently asking a lot by wanting the gay porn in my browser to look like a United Colors of Benetton ad shot by Helmut Newton. But while we noted above the refreshing presence of some Black faces on Helix Studios’ homepage, the key word here really is “some.”

Auditing the first 60 videos available on the Helix website, about a dozen had any nonwhite actors in them. While Black entertainers were the racial minority most likely to be featured in one of these scenes, there were extremely few actors who were recognizably Latino or Asian. There were no trans men, people with disabilities, or someone with a waistline over 32 inches. I don’t think I even spotted someone with facial hair. It must not get cold on those sets.

While it’s the prerogative of Helix to hire and employ any actors the studio likes and the prerogative of the audience to enjoy that content, there are so many groups of people who haven’t had the opportunity to see themselves as sexy, desirable, and worthy of love (or even a good rogering), especially in a gay community that hasn’t historically made space for them. It could mean a lot to those individuals to see themselves in the picture, too.

5) ‘American’ isn’t an ethnicity, guys

Probably the most embarrassing feature on the Helix Studios website is the racial descriptors it uses for its actors. For one, it refers to people of Latino descent as “Latin,” which is the word your grandmother might use to describe Cheech Marin. For those in the back row: Music is Latin; people are either Hispanic, Latino, or Latinx. The latter is a gender-neutral term increasingly en vogue in LGBTQ circles as a gentle pushback against the pervasive gender binary in romance languages.

The use of “Latin” as a descriptor is dense but forgivable. It’s one of those weird words that’s hung around in porn far longer than in its popular usage and is best gently retired—like Clint Eastwood.

What’s worse, however, is that Helix calls all the white actors in its models glossary “American.” The gay porn industry isn’t exactly known for being racially woke, but this is pretty bad even by the lowest of standards. It unintentionally sends the message that being Caucasian and an American citizen are synonymous when—actually—white people are slated to become a minority in the United States by the year 2045. It’s also particularly troubling at a time when people who have sacrificed everything to build a home in this country are being deported because our president thinks they aren’t “American” enough. Their children are literally being put in cages.

I don’t have anything quippy or funny to end this on. I think that this oversight is extremely disturbing and that if anyone at Helix is reading this, they should fix it ASAP.

Is a Helix membership worth it?

Until Helix Studios stops unintentionally giving credence to Trumpian ideology, absolutely fucking not.

When this matter is addressed, the section will be updated with a thorough distillation of Helix Studios’ many merits, weighed against some of its drawbacks. But until then, I cannot in good conscience recommend this site nor do I deem it worthy of proper review. It’s an extremely embarrassing reflection of the community I am a part of, and frankly, it makes me personally ashamed. As LGBTQ people who have been ourselves oppressed and fought for safe spaces in a world that too often hates us, we have to be better than this.

I liked a lot about Helix. I’m rooting for the site to turn it around.


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Derrick Barry’s Britney Spears-Inspired Makeup Transformation Will Blow Your Mind

Derrick Barry’s Britney Spears-Inspired Makeup Transformation Will Blow Your Mind

Does Britney Spears have a secret twin nobody knows about? Because this video is pretty damn convincing! Drag queen Derrick Barry has made a living impersonating Godney (as I like to call her), so he’s an absolute pro at transforming into the pop icon right before your eyes. Those smokey eyes, voluminous lashes, and pink pout are all on point, and TBH, that wig might be even better than Brit’s real hair!

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