Duchess Meghan Talks “Emotional Moments” in Final Speech of Royal Tour
As the Sussexes’ royal tour of Africa comes to an end, Duchess Meghan has opened up about the emotional and poignant moments that have made her 10-day overseas visit—her first as a mom—so special.
For one of her final engagements of the tour, the Duchess of Sussex gave a rousing speech at Johannesburg’s High Commission, where she and Prince Harry joined 300 guests to celebrate the U.K. and South Africa’s business and investment relationship. The duchess spoke candidly about her hopes for enacting change in South Africa, and the lasting effect the visit will have on her young family.
“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,” she told guests at today’s event. “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.”
In her speech, Meghan shared her own personal mission for this visit: Meeting women from all backgrounds at a time when South Africa is facing a serious gender-based violence crisis. “As someone who has been a longtime advocate of women’s and girls’ rights, I worried about what was happening, and my intention on this tour was to meet with women across South Africa to listen and to learn,” she explained.
The duchess went on to recall her visit to the memorial of 19-year-old Uyinene Mrwetyana, whose rape and murder in Cape Town sparked a series of #AmINext protests across the country, with women demanding the government pay attention to the problem. “Gender-based violence is a harrowing reality for many women around the world,” Meghan said. “And for some, like the beautiful and talented Uyinene, this violence has taken women from us who have—who had—a life full of hope and dreams ahead of them. Yet if there is any possible hope in this situation, if there is some sliver of light, it is that people are paying attention like never before.”
Meghan spoke openly about the resilience and drive of the women she’s met throughout the tour. “I met a group of young girls yesterday who wanted to talk to me about their experience, some of which was harrowing,” she said. “Yet despite everything they had been through, they said the saddest thing was to watch the continued degradation of women, and that they wanted to be part of a movement where both women and men play a role in turning that around.”
The duchess continued with a rallying cry for people of all genders to work together in the fight for true gender parity. “As I’ve said before, I firmly believe that all women have a voice, they just need to feel empowered to use it, and people need to feel encouraged to listen,” she said. “There is a role for all of us here. As women we can listen to one another, and lift each other up, we can raise our boys to be men who value women. And for men and boys, you can lead by example and not let your mothers, daughters, sisters, wives and girlfriends ever feel that they are lesser than you.”
Spending time with women from different backgrounds and experiences has been life-changing, the duchess added. “From students to politicians, from apartheid campaigners of the ’50s to teenagers on a beach, from the mothers with HIV providing health care to their community, and to the entrepreneurs who are driving the businesses of the future—they all showed me a power and a solidarity that, in this moment, in this time, all women, and all people, can take strength and inspiration from,” Meghan said. “Because these amazing African women have discovered self-belief and found their worth.”
The Sussexes’ visit to the business-focused event comes less than a day after they launched court proceedings against the Mail on Sunday with a statement condemning the behavior of the British tabloid press. While there was no mention of the situation during her speech, Meghan did address how to stand up to individual challenges.
“In a world that that can seem so aggressive, confrontational, and dangerous, you should know that you have the power to change it,” she said. “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.”
She continued, “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.”
Prince Harry echoed Meghan’s sentiments in his own speech. “These young people weren’t in it just for themselves,” he said of his and Meghan’s trip to the Tembisa township outside of Johannesburg earlier in the day. “Each and every one of them was using the opportunity they’d been given, and the skills they had learned, to give back and support more people within in their own community.”
Before giving their speeches, Harry and Meghan met with British and South African investors and toured exhibitions focusing on the theme of cross-country business partnerships. The couple also met with a number of leading female entrepreneurs, and as Meghan closed her speech, she discussed how she found South Africa’s businesswomen particularly inspiring. The duchess shared a moment from the visit to Tembisa, where she noticed a small sign inside one of the work spaces at the YES community cub. “It said, ‘visualize your highest self, and show up as her,'” Meghan recalled. “This is the spirit of the women and girls I have met on this trip.”
Earlier in the day, the duke and duchess enjoyed a private meeting with Graça Machel, the widow of the late Nelson Mandela. Following their event at the High Commission, the Sussexes met with President Cyril Ramaphosa for their final engagement on the royal tour of southern Africa.
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