The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Harry and Meghan, attend the 2022 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Ripple of Hope Award Gala in New York City
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Harry and Meghan, attend the 2022 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Ripple of Hope Award Gala in New York City Reuters

Meghan Markle was seen hiking in California with a couple of longtime friends on Sunday after she skipped King Charles III's coronation in London on Saturday, May 6.

The Duchess of Sussex joined pals Markus Anderson and Heather Dorak for a 40-minute hike from her Montecito Mansion in Santa Barbara. Photos from TMZ showed how she dressed casually in a loose-fitting top paired with leggings and brown hiking boots. She wore wide-framed sunglasses that totally covered her eyes.

She was snapped smiling at one point and basically just looking cheery despite the chatter surrounding her absence at her father-in-law's coronation. The outing comes after the 41-year-old skipped the momentous occasion and stayed in California to celebrate her son Prince Archie's fourth birthday, also on May 6.

She reportedly decided not to attend to avoid attracting unwanted publicity. According to royal author Omid Scobie, the former "Suits" actress did not join her husband, Prince Harry, at the coronation to "protect her peace."

The co-author of "Finding Freedom" said during an appearance on ITV's "This Morning" earlier this month that the duchess "is aware just how much of the spotlight goes on her when she sets even a foot near the story."

"It's portrayed as intentional. Should she come over and just stand next to her husband, the commentary and the narrative of the day would have been very different for the days that followed" he added.

Scobie looked back on Meghan Markle's appearance at Queen Elizabeth II's funeral in September 2022 saying, "When she came back from the funeral...even her presence there was criticised."

He claimed that the duchess is better off in her own happy place back in California with her family. He also denied assumptions that the Duchess of Sussex did not attend the coronation because of Prince Archie's birthday.

"I disagree with that to some extent because I also know from friends of hers that she's protecting her peace as well."

Likewise, Scobie thinks that the royal family is "relieved" that Meghan Markle was not there at the coronation because they would want the spotlight to be on Queen Camilla and King Charles III. He said he "would put it down to the fact that so much of the attention then goes on someone who they would rather the attention didn't go on to."

Prince Harry went back home to the U.K. solo and reunited with the royals for King Charles III's coronation. He was seen in a good mood as he chatted with his cousins Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, and with their respective husbands as they entered Westminster Abbey.

But he cut a lonely figure as he walked by himself to his seat at the abbey. He sat in the third row and did not interact with his father and was seen chatting with Princess Eugenie's husband, Jack Brooksbank.

According to reports, he did not stay behind after the hours-long coronation service and was immediately chauffeured to the airport so he could catch a flight back to California in time to celebrate Prince Archie's birthday. Prince Harry was not part of the lineup of royals on the Buckingham Palace balcony after the service, and he also missed the Coronation Concert on May 7.

But prior to arriving in London, Scobie told ET that the Duke of Sussex has "had several conversations with his father over the months since the release of the book ("Spare"), largely about the coronation itself and, of course, matters to do with Frogmore Cottage, which the couple will no longer have the keys for any week now."

As for Prince Archie's birthday, Meghan Markle reportedly planned an intimate celebration. Scobie said that while "Prince Harry joins the pomp and the pageantry" at King Charles III's coronation, "it's going to be a much quieter occasion for Meghan over in California, who will be bringing together some of her closest friends and family for birthday celebrations for Archie."