Meghan Markle enjoys a girls’ day out with close pal Kelly McKee Zajfen – 16 months after ‘mysterious’ death of her nine-year-old son who was found ‘unresponsive’ in his family home

Meghan Markle took a break from her roles as wife and mother in order to play the part of supportive friend on Friday, when she enjoyed a girls’ day out with her close pal Kelly McKee Zajfen – 16 months after the former model’s nine-year-old son ‘mysteriously’ passed away.

The 42-year-old Duchess of Sussex, who Kelly once described as an ‘incredible friend and mother’, was pictured making her way out of a local Montecito restaurant with her former model pal, with both women seen chatting and laughing happily as they exited the eatery.

Their fun-filled outing comes just over one year after a close friend of the Zajfen family revealed to DailyMail.com that Kelly’s son George had been found ‘unresponsive’ in their family home and that his death had come as a complete shock to his loved ones and parents.

Kelly – who is also mother to George’s twin sister Lily – herself has been open about her grief on Instagram, writing in October of last year that she was ‘not really okay’, while telling her followers: ‘The light everyday is dim. I try my best. We are all trying our best. I’m so broken.

‘I’m searching everyday to find some new way to mold the pieces back together and I’m completely aware that it may not all fit again.’

In May, she posted a heartfelt tribute to Meghan on her account, praising the Duchess of Sussex for her support and praising her for being such an ‘incredible friend and mother’.

Meghan Markle played the role of supportive friend on Friday when she stepped out for lunch with close pal Kelly McKee Zajfen - 16 months after her young son passed away

Meghan Markle played the role of supportive friend on Friday when she stepped out for lunch with close pal Kelly McKee Zajfen – 16 months after her young son passed away

The 42-year-old appeared in good spirits as she joined her friend for a lunch and shopping trip
The 42-year-old appeared in good spirits as she joined her friend for a lunch and shopping trip

The 42-year-old appeared in good spirits as she joined her friend for a lunch and shopping trip

Meghan took full advantage of the warm California weather by sporting a pair of chic La Ligne cargo shorts and a simple pair of black Aquazzura ballet flats
k full advantage of the warm California weather by sporting a pair of chic La Ligne cargo shorts and a simple pair of black Aquazzura ballet flats
The Duchess of Sussex placed a supportive arm around her friend as they left the restaurant

The Duchess of Sussex placed a supportive arm around her friend as they left the restaurant

The outing comes 16 months after Kelly's nine-year-old son George passed away after being found 'unresponsive' at his family home

The outing comes 16 months after Kelly’s nine-year-old son George passed away after being found ‘unresponsive’ at his family home

‘You are always the first to say yes and support those you love. You are a fierce advocate for those who are in need,’ Kelly continued, while sharing an image of herself and the Duchess of Sussex both wearing ‘Community Motherhood’ T-shirts in support of an Alliance of Moms campaign.

And it appears their bond is stronger than ever judging by their close appearance on Friday, when they were seen leaving local Montecito restaurant Pane e Vino with their arms around one another.

Former model Kelly was seen toting a white paper bag of leftovers as the pair left the eatery, which is described as the area’s ‘first authentic Italian restaurant’ and serves an array of seasonal daily specials, as well as a selection of handmade pasta dishes, including farfalle with fresh salmon and rigatoni pomodoro.

Following their lunch date, the two women made their way to nearby ‘luxury women’s clothing boutique’ Wendy Foster, where Meghan is known to have shopped in the past – having been seen there as recently as last October.

Meghan appeared to be in great spirits during the outing, during which she was seen beaming from ear-to-ear as she and her friend made their way to the Duchess’s waiting Range Rover – accompanied by a burly security guard.

And while she may well have quit her life in the UK –  the Duchess still found a touching way to pay tribute to British veterans on Friday when she stepped out sporting a poppy brooch, which are worn as a show of support for the Armed Forces.

Meghan took full advantage of the warm California weather, donning a pair of chic La Ligne shorts and a black La Ligne sweater – to which she affixed her poppy pin, wearing it on the left breast of the garment, a position that is meant to signify the act of keeping fallen veterans close to your heart.

Meghan topped off the ensemble with some glamorous Celine sunglasses and a thin black Givenchy belt, and was seen toting a large black-and-white striped Cesta Collective bag over one shoulder, while her long brunette locks were pulled back in a casual ponytail.

Cesta Collective is described as a ‘mission-based brand’ that ‘aims to have a positive social impact by promoting gender equality and economic empowerment, through joyful, ethically-made accessories’.

The Duchess of Sussex paired her shorts-and-sweater combo with some glamorous shades, and she carried a black-and-white striped tote over one shoulder
The Duchess of Sussex paired her shorts-and-sweater combo with some glamorous shades, and she carried a black-and-white striped tote over one shoulder

The Duchess of Sussex paired her shorts-and-sweater combo with some glamorous shades, and she carried a black-and-white striped Cesta Collective tote over one shoulder

She wore her poppy brooch on the left breast of her sweater - a position that symbolizes the act of keeping those who have passed close to a person's heart

She wore her poppy brooch on the left breast of her sweater – a position that symbolizes the act of keeping those who have passed close to a person’s heart

At one point, Meghan put her hand on her friend's back as they left Montecito eatery Pane e Vino, which describes itself as the area's 'first authentic Italian restaurant'

At one point, Meghan put her hand on her friend’s back as they left Montecito eatery Pane e Vino, which describes itself as the area’s ‘first authentic Italian restaurant’

The Duchess of Sussex was seen smiling and laughing as she and her pal left the restaurant and made their way to a nearby luxury clothing boutique

The Duchess of Sussex was seen smiling and laughing as she and her pal left the restaurant and made their way to a nearby luxury clothing boutique

The Duchess of Sussex was seen smiling and laughing as she and her pal left the restaurant and made their way to a nearby luxury clothing boutique

The outing came just one day before Remembrance Day in the UK and Veterans Day in the US, an emotional occasion that both Meghan and Harry marked earlier in the week when they met with military veterans and their families at Camp Pendleton in San Diego on Wednesday.

Prince Harry, 39, who was stripped of his honorary military titles when he quit his role as a working royal, and Meghan both wore Royal British Legion poppies for the occasion – as they did the following day when they cut the ribbon on a new fitness center for veterans at the venue.

The two women – who both carried brown paper Wendy Foster shopping bags – were seen chatting and laughing with one another, seemingly without a care in the world.

Wendy Foster, a boutique that Meghan was seen visiting with Kelly back in October, sells an array of high-end clothing brands, including AG Jeans and Nili Lotan.

It marked a much more carefree occasion for the Duchess, who earlier in the week spent time meeting with American military veterans alongside her husband, with a statement issued by their foundation, Archewell, revealing that the couple ‘spent the morning with veteran and activeduty service members and their loved-ones at Camp Pendleton in San Diego, California’.

The pair were pictured with around a dozen people at a discussion table, and according to Archewell learned about the work of Operation Bigs, a mentoring program set up in 2004.

The scheme connects military children and families with others who have gone through similar experiences.

Pioneered by Camp Pendleton, it has in the last nine years served more than 3,000 Navy and Marine Corps children, according to Archewell, and has expanded to over 30 affiliates across the country.

In May, Kelly posted a heartfelt tribute to Meghan on her account, praising the Duchess of Sussex for her support and praising her for being such an 'incredible friend and mother'

In May, Kelly posted a heartfelt tribute to Meghan on her account, praising the Duchess of Sussex for her support and praising her for being such an ‘incredible friend and mother’

Meghan was sporting a bold red manicure that she showed off while gesturing as the pair strolled out of the restaurant - with her pal carrying a bag of what appeared to be leftovers

Meghan was sporting a bold red manicure that she showed off while gesturing as the pair strolled out of the restaurant – with her pal carrying a bag of what appeared to be leftovers

The two women then made their way to Wendy Foster, where they both did some shopping

The two women then made their way to Wendy Foster, where they both did some shopping

Meghan was seen sporting her signature jewelry - which includes a gold Cartier Love Bracelet and a diamond pinky ring
Meghan was seen sporting her signature jewelry - which includes a gold Cartier Love Bracelet and a diamond pinky ring

Meghan was seen sporting her signature jewelry – which includes a gold Cartier Love Bracelet and a diamond pinky ring

The Duchess was seen embracing her friend as they exited the restaurant

The Duchess was seen embracing her friend as they exited the restaurant

Harry spent a decade in the British Army – including two tours of Afghanistan – and has a long personal connection with the military, one that he has made great efforts to maintain even after quitting royal life.

He and Meghan have spent previous Veterans’ Days on military sites: in 2021, they were at McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey, and in 2020 visited a military cemetery in Los Angeles.

After visiting Camp Pendleton, Meghan and Harry then travelled to downtown San Diego to open up a new gym for Navy SEALs and veterans wounded in combat.

The 20,000-square-foot Warrior Fitness Program West Coast Facility is the second site to open, after a Virginia Beach facility launched in 2017.

The foundation has already helped more than 800 active-duty and veteran SEALs and surface warfare combatant crewman – and both sites now have advanced technology, equipment and personnel designed to help with physical and mental recovery, according to The Times of San Diego.

‘We’re thrilled that the Duke and Duchess are here,’ said Tony Duynstee, a former SEAL who spoke for the SEAL Foundation.

‘It’s quite an honor for them to be here for the commissioning.’

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