THE Duchess of Sussex was all smiles chilling with a pal yesterday after turning her back on “soul-crushing” royal life.
Meghan, 38, insisted on driving herself to the airport to pick up confidante and pilates guru Heather Dorak.
Her relaxed demeanour came as friends claimed she finally felt free of the “toxic” Royal Family.
Last night, an announcement on the terms of her departure with Harry, 35, was expected imminently from Buckingham Palace.
Several issues may yet need ironing out but palace officials are working round the clock as they are under orders from the Queen to come up with a plan in days.
In Canada, smiling Meghan was spotted at the wheel of a dark blue Land Rover Discovery arriving at Vancouver Island airport.
She looked chilled in a beanie and shades, 4,500 miles away from the tumult she sparked in Britain.
Friends believe it is a sign she feels able to breathe again after escaping the monarchy.
One said Meghan was miserable in Britain, not sleeping well and started having anxiety attacks.
She was said to want out after becoming worried that baby son Archie would grow up stifled by the constraints of royal life.
The friend said: “Meghan felt she had to escape because living within the royal confines was soul-crushing.
"She told her inner circle of friends that her soul was being crushed and that the decision to leave was a matter of life or death — meaning the death of her spirit.
“She also felt like she couldn’t be the best mother to Archie if she wasn't being her true, authentic self. Something she felt she couldn't be in the Royal Family confines.
“She said she didn’t want Archie picking up on her stress and anxiety. She felt like it was a toxic environment for him because there was too much tension and pent-up frustrations.”
Now, the friend says, Meghan feels she can do as she pleases again without following royal protocols and seeking permission.
The Duchess “has a lot up her sleeve that she wants to do” once she moves to North America.
She plans to campaigning on issues close to her heart — like the two organisations for vulnerable women and children in Vancouver where she made her first post-Megxit visits on Tuesday.
Outside the arrivals area at the airport, Meghan chatted animatedly for ten minutes to a royal protection officer before Heather arrived and jumped into the rear seat.
She greeted her pal — thought to be one of five friends trusted to brief a magazine on the rift with her father Thomas — with a hug.
One onlooker said: “Meghan looked completely relaxed as though she hasn’t a care in the world.
"There were two other cars in a convoy which pulled up outside arrivals but Meghan was at the wheel — she looks like a woman who likes to be in control.”
'BE IN CONTROL'
The pals will spend time relaxing with Meghan and eight-month-old Archie at the £11million beachside retreat where they are holed up.
Harry is likely to join them early next week after finalising the Megxit deal which will allow them to spend much of their time abroad and be financially independent.
Old pal Heather, from San Antonio, Texas, lives in California where she owns six pilates studios and became Meghan's instructor before she met future husband Harry.
Heather was a regular contributor to Meghan's lifestyle site, The Tig and featured regularly on her pre-royal life Instagram account.
The pair were pictured enjoying playful pilates workouts in panamas on the beach. Meghan has described her friend’s workouts as “hands down the best thing you can do for your body”.
Heather and husband Matt Cohen were guests at the couple’s wedding in May 2018. Both women became pregnant late in 2018.
As they headed for Meghan’s bolthole, royal aides in Britain were frantically trying to thrash out a Megxit deal.
Meghan and Harry want to keep the Duchy of Cornwall money from Prince Charles but are prepared to give up their HRH status, it is understood.
They want to be able to strike money-spinning commercial deals but the Queen wants forensic examination of any contracts.
Sources say it will take six months to finalise the details.
The Queen has said she wants a deal to be done within days after meeting Charles, William and Harry at Sandringham on Monday.
Senior royals do not want the Megxit drama to drag on, overshadowing their work.
Charles is speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos next Wednesday when he will launch a sustainable markets project.
He then flies to Israel for the World Holocaust Forum and visits the Occupied Palestinian Terrorities.
William has a commitment with his United for Wildlife charity on Tuesday, while wife Kate also has engagements to promote causes close to her heart next week.
There were signs that Harry and Meghan might never return to Britain as a housekeeper and manager at Windsor home, Frogmore Cottage, have been transferred to other duties at Windsor Cottage.
It comes after £2.4million of taxpayers’ cash was lavished on refurbishing the Grade II listed, five-bedroom home for the royal couple.
But a source said: “No members of staff have been let go. In quiet periods, staff are often redeployed elsewhere around the estate.”
Many observers think Harry’s appearance at the Rugby League World Cup 2021 draw on Thursday will be his last as a senior royal.
But Commonwealth Day on March 9 will be the real test.
It is seen as a major event in the royal calendar and a no-show will indicate Megxit has been done.
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