The back half of the Sussex Royal Tour
Not to diminish at all the work of Harry over the weekend – where he went from Botswana to Angola to Malawi and now back to South Africa – but I am just going to focus on Meghan’s work primarily today because, after all, this is The Duchess Commentary. The Duke Commentary can write more in-depth about what Harry did. :)
Meghan wasn’t scheduled to be seen again until yesterday, October 1, in Johannesburg. But she did pop up a little bit over the weekend in powerful moments I’d like to reflect on here:
· On Thursday, Meghan hosted a private event honoring women like Sophia Williams-De Bruyn, an anti-apartheid activist who led 20,000 women in a 1956 human rights protest; Nompendulo Mkatshwa, one of the youngest women in Parliament; and Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng, the first black female South African to earn a Ph.D. in mathematics education. Talking about fashion seems super trivial given the gravity of the work Meghan is doing on this trip, but, for what it’s worth, she wore a black sleeveless top and a graphic black and white skirt from J. Crew.
· On Saturday, she visited the site of 19-year-old Uyinene Mrwetyana’s murder at a post office – where she was allegedly raped and murdered by a postal worker – and also shared she had spoken with Mrwetyana’s mother. Mrwetyana was a victim of gender-based violence and Meghan had not previously announced she would visit the site of her murder, doing it spontaneously and from the heart. Meghan tied a ribbon at her memorial and signed a message that said “Harry & Meghan 26th September 2019.” Then, she added in Xhosa – the native language – the words “We stand together in this situation.”
· After this, it was on the road to Johannesburg for Meghan and Archie, who arrived there Saturday.
· On Sunday, while Harry was in Malawi, Meghan surprised the crowd and popped in via Skype at an event he was at, celebrating women’s education and highlighting CAMA (the Campaign for Female Education Alumnae Association) at the Nalikule College of Education. Meghan, who graduated from Northwestern University, is a huge proponent of education and so, in hindsight, it wasn’t terribly shocking that she found a way to be involved in this event. Earlier this year, it was revealed that one of her patronages is The Association of Commonwealth Universities, fitting in with her commitment to education. You might recognize her Skype session outfit – she wore it to the polo match in July where Archie met his cousins George, Charlotte, and Louis. As excited as the crowd was to see the duchess, no one looked more thrilled to see her than her biggest fan – her husband. Their separation – from Wednesday, September 25 to Tuesday, October 1 – was the longest they have spent away from one another since Archie’s birth in May.
· Speaking of Archie, in addition to her packed schedule of engagements, Meghan is breastfeeding her nearly five-month-old son and built her tour schedule around his feeding times. “We’re making it work,” she said. “It’s worth it.”
· On Monday, Meghan made an under-the-radar visit to the city’s Victoria Yards, where she met children from the Timbuktu child development program and visited several organizations at the social enterprise initiative and artisan community. Meghan kept this visit mostly secret so as not to overshadow Harry’s work that day in Malawi.
· On Tuesday, Meghan continued her focus on education at the University of Johannesburg to attend a roundtable discussion with the Association of Commonwealth Universities, which, as I said above, she is patron of. Keeping with her theme of gender equality, rights for women and girls, and the power of education, Meghan said “Sometimes access to education can seem so big, you wonder where to even begin. So you begin with one student, or one school. You simply begin. And that’s when we see change…When a woman is empowered it changes absolutely everything in the community, and starting an educational atmosphere is really a key point of that.” Meghan wore a khaki trench dress from Banana Republic to the event.
· Tuesday afternoon, Meghan visited a school in Johannesburg to learn how a local charity is working to raise awareness and end sexual violence in schools. She also visited a classroom where an after school girls’ club meets. These girls – aged 12 to 16 – all told the duchess about what the club means to them and the various issues they face. She looked stunning in a Room 502 green short-sleeve cotton shirt dress with a belted waist.
· Today, the final day of the 10-day tour, Harry and Meghan – finally reunited! – visited the Tembisa township near Johannesburg to meet with local youth and entrepreneurs who are combating South Africa’s rising youth unemployment crisis. Meghan wore a white shirtdress by Cape Town-based designer Hannah Lavery for the occasion.
· Then, the duke and duchess met with Graca Machel, widow of Nelson Mandela. Meghan wore another rewear – the absolute trend du jour of this trip – recycling a NONIE trench dress, which she wore in July 2018 at an event celebrating Mandela’s birth. Don’t you love a thoughtful dresser? I do.
· Finally, they attended a reception in honor of the U.K. and South Africa’s business and investment relationship before heading to their final stop on the tour – a meeting with South African president Cyril Ramaphosa and his wife, Dr. Tshepo Motsepe. Then it was off to London, back home.
Some final words from Meghan on this last day of the tour:
“I remember being a young girl watching TV and seeing what was happening in the world, and frankly, often feeling despair. Because when you continue and constantly see and hear negativity, it can be overwhelming; you can feel powerless, and lost, you can feel different, confused, or like you don’t belong. And I’m sure there is a young girl or boy watching this and thinking the maybe exact same thing. So, this is for you. In a world that can seem so aggressive, confrontational, and dangerous, you should know that you have the power to change it. Because whether you’re here in South Africa, at home in the U.K. or the U.S., or around the world, you actually have the power within you to change things, and that begins with how you connect to others. I have learned from the people I’ve met here, that whether it’s about society’s expectations of masculinity or femininity, or how we divide ourselves by race or faith or class or status — everyone has value, and everyone deserves to be heard and respected. And if you live your life in that way, your generation will start to value each other in ways the rest of us have not yet been able to do so…
Over the past 10 days our family has had emotional moments, we’ve had poignant moments, we’ve had spiritual moments; we’ve met inspirational leaders in every walk of life, and we’ve been treated to incredible food, music, and dancing. But above all, we have been able to meet the people that are the rocks behind the sort of work that really means a so much to us. It has been affirming to learn that we’re not alone in the things that we believe in, and the principles we hold so dear. No matter how different our lives may seem, Africa, you have made us feel part of your community, of our shared community."
What a tour! Stay tuned for the next blog post, as I give my final thoughts on the trip.
Gotta have some Katie to wrap it all up with a bow: