The Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s African tour is off! The couple arrived in South Africa with their four-month-old son, Archie Mountbatten-Windsor, earlier today (they flew commercial, in case you are wondering ;)) and are already in the midst of the day’s second engagement. The family opted for forgo formal arrivals and departures this tour, so the only shots we had of them arriving were grainy long-lens pics.
But after settling in and changing clothes, Harry and Meghan quickly moved on to their first engagement in the township of Nyanga, not far outside of Cape Town. As a reminder, Archie isn’t scheduled to make any appearances this tour – the couple will make a game-time decision here and there based on his schedule, so it’s still TBD how much we’ll see him, if at all.
The first item on the agenda was a walkabout and welcome from children supported by the charitable organization Justice Desk. Other highlighted attendees included women and youth who participate in local efforts to teach self-defense and empowerment. The context for that is that Nyanga has a notably high crime rate.
The couple took time to greet people who had lined up to see them, paying particular attention to local children.
Meghan delivered a powerful speech, the primary soundbite from which is bolded below:
Hello! It is such privilege to meet all of you today and to start our visit, my first time in South Africa, here in Nyanga.
We have just spent some time seeing all the incredible work that the Justice Desk does and of course all of you amazing women and the men who are here helping you, Mbokodo, you are incredible and what you’re doing is so powerful, because you’re all powerful.
The work that’s being done here is to keep women and children safer, which is needed now more than ever. This is an issue that’s been at the forefront of people’s minds here in South Africa, and of course across the globe, particularly over this past month.
Please know that my husband and I have been closely following what you’ve been experiencing here – as best we can from afar. But now that we are with you, we are eager to learn and see first-hand the work that you’re doing, the vital work that you’re doing, and that everything that is being done on the ground is making the great change that you not only need but that you deserve.
You have welcomed us into this community, have been open and honest with us, both about the dangers women and children face, and about how you are addressing them. The rights of women and girls is something that is very close to my heart, and the cause I have spent the majority of my life advocating for because I know that when women are empowered, the entire community flourishes.
So to be able to meet all of you today who are standing up for what’s right in the face of adversity, I applaud you. We are encouraged to hear your President take the next steps to work towards preventing gender-based violence through education and necessary changes to reinforce the values of modern South Africa.
I do have to say I feel incredibly humbled to be in the presence of all of you as you stand firm in your core values of respect, dignity and equality.
I read a quote a few weeks ago and it resonated with me as I’ve been watching what’s been happening here and your active efforts. Maya Angelou, the legendary poet and civil rights activist, once said: ‘Each time a woman stands up for herself, without knowing it, possibly without claiming it, she stands up for all women.’
Now I know it’s not easy and I know it must feel insurmountable at times, but your commitment to what is right gives all of us hope, especially your brothers and sisters here in your community who need you to continue to shine your light brightly. Your commitment is inspiring, it is energising and it is extraordinary. You must keep going, you must know that what you’re doing not only matters, it is vital because YOU are vital.
And just on one personal note, may I just say that while I am here with my husband as a member of The Royal Family, I want you to know that for me I am here with you as a mother, as a wife, as a woman, as a woman of colour and as your sister. I am here with you and I am here FOR you and I thank you so much for showing my husband and I the spirit of Ubuntu and I look forward to our time over the next few days together. Thank you so much for having us.’
Royal reporters following along shared video snippets via Twitter, one of which is here:
On the fashion front, Meghan is wearing a new wrap dress by Mayamiko, a sustainable brand based in Malawi. She paired the look with her Castaner wedges. I’ll call this a win based mainly on its diplomatic appeal, which is a huge part of dressing for royal tours.
With that, the couple have already returned to Cape Town to visit the District Six museum, so we’ll pick up there a bit later. That’ll be their final engagement today, while three are on the books for tomorrow, including a formal reception.