- Rachel Burchfield
Sussex Royal Tour: Day 1
Updated: Sep 24, 2019
As I write this at 5:13 p.m. Central Standard Time, September 23, 2019 has ended in Cape Town, South Africa. It is 12:15 a.m. there on the morning of September 24.
But, for the many residents of the city who saw Harry and Meghan today, even though September 23 is over, it will be a day they will never forget.
Let’s rewind a moment, though.
Before they got to Cape Town on September 23 – with baby Archie in tow – Harry and Meghan were in Rome for the nuptials of Meghan’s close friend Misha Nonoo, who married American oil heil Michael Hess this weekend. We don’t have many good shots of Meghan’s dress, but I do know it is black Valentino and cost $13,500. She paired the dress with gold and diamond feather earrings that cost – wait for it – $6. Meghan played a very special role in the ceremony – she was the only reader, and she read a poem called “The Vow” by Roger McCough. Though we don’t have many – read: any – good shots of Meghan in the dress, here it is on the runway.
Archie didn’t join his parents in Rome, but met up with them in Cape Town, though he was not spotted today other than when he was seen getting off the plane.
Let’s chat about the tour as a whole for a moment before we delve into today (and when I keep saying today, obviously I’m referring to September 23):
· The Sussexes are somehow fitting 35 engagements into their 10-day tour. Meghan even just added another to the roster: She will visit a charity in Cape Town that trains women living with HIV to be frontline health workers across eight African nations. This will take place on September 25 – my thirty-third birthday! Thank you, Sussexes, for planning a Royal Tour during my birthday week. I feel very loved.
· Cape Town will serve as Meghan and Archie’s base for the entire tour. Harry will undertake additional engagements in Malawi, Angola, and Botswana. I wonder if we will get a similar shot of Harry in Angola walking through a landmine field a la Princess Diana circa 1997?
· I was going to post the day-to-day schedule but it is so lengthy (the Sussexes have so. many. engagements) – if you’re interested, check it out on Town & Country here. But don’t worry, I’ll be recapping each day right here on the blog, along with not only where Harry and Meghan have been but, of course, a commentary on Meghan’s fashion!
· By the end of the tour Harry and Meghan will link up again in Johannesburg, South Africa, where they will close out the tour on October 2.
· Archie is in country and will make appearances as he is able.
· Harry and Meghan are traveling with a 14-person team that includes
o their new private secretary Fiona Mcilwham, whom Harry and Meghan paid for privately to join them for three days of the tour to transition into her new role.
o outgoing private secretary Samantha Cohen will be there, along with assistant private secretary Heather Wong. These two organized this entire trip, which, of course, took months to plan.
o press secretary Sara Latham, who will be joined by two other press officers and a social media officer.
o project coordinator Clara Madden as well as another program coordinator, a logistics coordinator, a personal assistant, and a director of Royal travel.
o a nanny for Archie who will look after the four-month-old while his parents are working.
o finally, Meghan’s hairdresser, whom the couple is paying for out of their own pockets.
Here’s what happened today in Cape Town:
· The Sussex trio were spotted getting off the plane in Cape Town around 10 a.m. this morning, Meghan holding Archie in her arms. They were about an hour behind schedule.
· Harry and Meghan stopped by Nyanga township just after lunchtime for an event featuring people associated with The Justice Desk, a human rights organization dedicated to supporting local communities and vulnerable people in the area. Nyanga township is considered one of the most dangerous parts of Cape Town.
· For this event, Meghan wore a black and white patterned wrap dress by Mayamiko that she paired with wedges. The energy was crazy high, with locals dancing around to welcome the family. A loud drumbeat was playing, and Harry danced as he heard it, and Meghan joined in, too! The couple also arrived holding hands. Before posing for a photo, Harry was caught very sweetly fixing Meghan’s ponytail, which had gotten caught up in her dress. #husbandgoals
· While there, Meghan gave a passionate speech to the crowd, saying, in part, “On a 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 color, and as your sister. I am here with you, and I am here for you.” The crowd of women and girls facing gender-based violence in South Africa erupted. Read Meghan’s full speech here.
· For his part, Harry also spoke: “No man is born to cause harm to women,” he said. “This is learned behavior and a cycle that needs to be broken. So now, it’s about redefining masculinity, it’s about creating your own footprints for your children to follow in, so that you can make a positive change for the future. To me, the real testament of your strength isn’t physical, it’s what’s up here and what’s in here. Your strength is in your spirit, which for me means honoring and protecting my wife and being a positive role model for my son.”
· Interestingly, both Harry and Meghan gave their speeches on a tree stump.
· Harry and Meghan danced with attendees, who gave Archie a South African Xhosa name: Ntsika, which means “pillar of strength.”
· Then, Harry and Meghan visited the District Six Museum, which honors a community that was forcibly relocated during the apartheid era. What is apartheid? It is a huge part of South Africa’s history and one of the most tragic – yet meaningful – subjects I’ve studied in history. It was a system of institutionalized racial segregation that existed in South Africa from 1948 until the early 1990s – long after the Jim Crow South of the United States was abolished. I see apartheid’s official end as Nelson Mandela’s election to the South African presidency in 1994 – Mandela was the first South African black head of state, and his government focused on dismantling the legacy of apartheid by tackling institutionalized racism and fostering racial reconciliation. If you are interested in history and have not studied apartheid, do so. It is such an important era of history.
· At the event, an attendee asked where Archie was. Harry’s answer? “He’s sleeping,” adding “He’s not grouchy, just exhausted.”
· For this event, Meghan wore a sky-blue dress with a wrap waist and button detailing down the front. Recognize it? It’s because Meghan wore it while pregnant on she and Harry’s Tonga Royal tour last year, and she was wearing it in the Instagram tribute post Harry wrote her for her birthday last month. I love a good Royal re-wear!
· While at the museum, Harry and Meghan sampled local delicacies like tomato casserole and porring, a pudding made from potato, cream, and vanilla.
· Finally, Harry and Meghan finished the day at the Homecoming Center, where they took part in a community cooking activity alongside former District Six residents. Meghan brought along a copy of her cookbook, Together, which she exchanged for one of theirs so she can make porring for herself back home in Windsor.
Read our friend Katie Nicholl’s full coverage of the day on Vanity Fair:
· Inside Harry and Meghan’s busy first day in South Africa
· Meghan and Harry give uplifting speeches – and dance – in Cape Town
· Harry and Meghan made an “emotional” stop at a Cape Town museum