Speaking to a group of prominent anti-apartheid activists and politicians, the Duchess of Sussex said that being the first one to ‘pave the way’ can be tough.
Meghan Markle urged ‘all young women organisers, activists and campaigners’ to ‘keep at it’ despite the obstacles that might come their way, during an event to honour South Africa’s female leaders in Cape Town.
‘I was recently reminded that the first one up the mountain often gets knocked down the hardest, but makes way for everyone behind them,’ she said, according to The Sunday Times.
Meghan did not reveal which incident she was referring to, but as the first mixed-race American divorcee to marry into the royal family, she is likely to have plenty of personal experience about carving out a new path.
She added: ‘You must keep at it and know that you are working for this generation and the next, and also continuing the legacy of the generations of great women before you.’
On a post on post on the official Instagram page of Duke and Duchess of Sussex, she today wrote that the ‘countless violations’ against women ‘weighed heavy on her heart’ and that the only way forward is ‘hope in action’.
Among the acclaimed group of women in attendance at the breakfast function was one of the founding members of South Africa‘s anti-apartheid movement, Sophia Williams-De Bruyn.
Williams-De Bruyn was just 18 when she helped lead a march of 20,000 women to the Union Buildings in Pretoria to protest against segregation in 1956.
The duchess met Sophia Williams-De Bruyn (pictured), who was just 18 when she helped lead a march of 20,000 women to the Union Buildings in Pretoria to protest against segregation in 1956
Ms Williams-De Bruyn was among the guests at an event to honour South Africa’s female leaders. Also present were politicians Lindiwe Mazibuko – the first non-white leader of the Democratic Alliance party – and Nompendulo Mkhatshwa of the ANC, one of the youngest women ever to serve in Parliament
At 81, she is the last surviving of the four leaders of the march
On A post from the Duchess on her and the Duke of Sussex’s official Instagram page, said the last living leader of the march was a ‘symbol of those who fight for fundamental human rights’ and that she ‘fights for what is right.’
At 81, she is the last surviving of the four leaders of the march. Meghan said Ms Williams-De Bruyn was an ‘inspiration’.
‘These brave women have been able to see how their struggle can pave the way for so many.’
Women from across the political and social spectrum striving for gender equality and women’s empowerment were present.
Meghan also spoke with Dr Mamphela Ramphele – an anti-apartheid activist, medical doctor and former managing director of the World Bank.
Also present were politicians Lindiwe Mazibuko – the first non-white leader of the Democratic Alliance party – and Nompendulo Mkhatshwa of the ANC, one of the youngest women ever to serve in Parliament.
The duchess said: ‘We can learn a certain amount from the outside, by tracking it through the news, but it’s not the same as being able to truly understand what it’s like on the ground.
‘Much of my life I have been advocating for women and girls’ rights, so this has been an incredibly powerful moment to hear first-hand from all of you.
‘The leadership and strength shown by these women is remarkable, and at a time when the issue of gender and gender-based violence is at the forefront of people’s minds, I hope their voices will resonate and not only give comfort but also create change.
‘This is not just a South African issue, this is a global problem that can only find solution with the attention and work of everyone, regardless of gender, status, politics, race or nationality.’
The issue of gender-based violence has dominated South Africa’s national debate in recent weeks following the murder of University of Cape Town student Uyinene Mrwetyana.
Ms Mrwetyana was raped and killed at her local post office last month after allegedly being lured into a trap when she went to collect a parcel.
On Saturday, Meghan attended the site of the killing to pay tribute to the victim and pass on her condolences to her mother.
Meghan (pictured) tied an orange ribbon around the painted veranda of Clareinch Post Office, where University of Cape Town student Uyinene Mrwetyana was killed on Saturday, August 24
Uyinene ‘Nene’ Mrwetyana, 19, was bludgeoned to death with a post office scale in Claremont, it is claimed, after she was allegedly lured inside by an employee
A post on the official Instagram account of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex said the couple had been following the uprising sparked by the popular student’s death from afar.
The post said Meghan made the visit to pay her respects and to show solidarity with protesters against gender-based violence and femicide.
Alongside a picture of Meghan, the post said: ‘The Duke and Duchess had been following what had happened from afar and were both eager to learn more when they arrived in South Africa.
‘The Duchess spoke to the mother of Uyinene this week to relay their condolences.
‘Visiting the site of this tragic death and being able to recognise Uyinene, and all women and girls effected by GBV (specifically in South Africa, but also throughout the world) was personally important to The Duchess.’
Wearing blue jeans and a cream tunic top with ruffled straps, the duchess is pictured tying her yellow ribbon to a fence alongside other multicoloured streamers in tribute to the popular teenager, known as Nene.
A 42-year-old male post office employee has been arrested over the killing.
Local resident Celeste Fortuin, who was paying tribute herself, told the PA news agency that Meghan’s gesture would mean a lot to the community.
‘It’s a very personal statement she made to say that she understands what happened here, she knows that it’s important to not let us forget that a young girl with so much potential in her life lost her life here, and we should all do something to stop violence against women and children.’
Archie was last seen on Wednesday during tea with Archbishop Desmond Tutu in Cape Town. During the meeting Meghan said her son would have to get used the cameras in his life
The Duchess looked elegant in an Everlane jumpsuit for the engagement and told the inspiring female entrepreneurs that she is determined to ‘fulfil her heart’s desires’ despite being a member of the Royal Family
This comes after the royals were met with signs of protest as they visited the Bo-Kaap area in Cape Town earlier on the tour.
Meghan, 38, and her four-month old son were seen at the International Airport before their scheduled British Airways flight to Johannesburg.
Prince Harry, 35, left Angola on Saturday for the third stop during the solo section of the royal tour, where tomorrow he will visit young women at a college and meet Malawi’s President Peter Mutharika.
The mother and son looked relaxed as they prepared for the short flight earlier today, with Meghan wearing black jeans, a white shirt and a pair of flat pumps.
Baby Archie was cradled carefully, with a blanket placed over him, and appeared to be wearing a grey jumper and matching socks paired with navy trousers.
The Duchess of Sussex and baby Archie, pictured together at Cape Town International Airport today before their scheduled British Airways flight, have travelled to Johannesburg for the next part of the 10-day royal tour
Prince Harry, pictured arriving at Luanda airport before his departure from Angola on Saturday, is set to travel to Malawi, the next stop on his 10-day tour of Africa and the final destination before rejoining his wife and son in South Africa
New mother Meghan wore her hair tied back as she travelled with her son, who was last seen meeting Archbishop Desmond Tutu in Cape Town on Wednesday.
Despite being seen on the airport airbridge today, there are no official engagements planned for the Duchess in Johannesburg until Tuesday.
On Tuesday she is set to attend a round-table discussion with the Association of Commonwealth Universities in Johannesburg.
Meghan will meet academics and students to discuss the challenges faced by young women in accessing Higher Education.
The Duchess will then learn about the work of a charity, which receives UK Aid for its work to tackle sexual violence in schools, reports the Telegraph.
In the evening Meghan and Prince Harry will be reunited, after he flies back from Malawi to join his wife and son.
On the final day of the tour the royal pair will be seen together for a visit to a township near Johannesburg to meet with inspiring local youth.
Although Meghan has been making private appearances, her husband Prince Harry has been seen at several official engagements since leaving his wife in Cape Town in both Botswana and Angola.
The Duke met with the President of Angola and learned about pioneering work on the transmission of HIV/AIDS from mothers to their babies which is championed by Angola’s First Lady Ana Dias Lourenco.
Uniformed military saluted the Duke of Sussex as he arrived for an audience with leader João Lourenço at the presidential palace in Luanda, Angola, on sixth day of his royal tour of Africa.
Harry later visited a hospital to see the HIV project spearheaded by First Lady Lourenco, who he also met yesterday evening during a reception at the British ambassador’s residence.
Posting on Instagram account SussexRoyal, the Prince said the trip to Angola had been very important to him and he thanked the president for ‘incredibly warm welcome.’
He wrote: ‘The trip has been very important to The Duke, allowing him to see the impact his mother has had, and also highlight issues that are so important to him, especially continuing her work to rid the world of land mines.’
The Prince spent his time in Angola yesterday visiting the place where his late mother Princess Diana launched an anti-landmine campaign, her last major crusade before her untimely death.
He retraced her footsteps, donning the same protective body armour and visor she did 22 years earlier to detonate a device in a partially-cleared field in Dirico, in the south east of the country.
Harry walked into an area that was once an artillery base for anti-government forces who had mined the position in 2000, during the decades-long civil war that tore the country apart.
The Duke of Sussex also met a landmine victim who famously brought Diana to tears 22 years ago during trip to Angola – as she revealed she named a daughter after the princess.
Sandra Thijika, 38, who was pictured sitting on Diana’s knee, described the experience of meeting the royal as making her feel ‘complete’.
And when she met Prince Harry she described the encounter as a continuation of a long and beautiful story.
The princess had not only walked through a partially cleared minefield in Angola to raise awareness about the issue of the weapons, but spent time with people maimed by the munitions laid during a bloody civil war.
Ms Thijika said after chatting to Harry: ‘I think I met Princess Diana on a Tuesday, she came to the centre and she wanted to see how a change of prosthetic limb was done.
‘At that time I was very small, I was a very tiny girl and they started measuring my knee so they could see how the prosthetic would fit.
‘Princess Diana was watching this process and she started crying as she watched me getting measured for a new prosthetic.
‘After they measured my knee we went outside and we sat by a fig tree and she was speaking to me and I felt very happy, I felt very complete to have the attention of a princess.
‘It was an honour to be sitting next to a princess.’
Sandra Thijika, who was pictured sitting on Diana’s knee, described meeting Prince Harry (pictured) as a continuation of a long and beautiful story
Ms Thijika (pictured with Diana) described the experience of meeting Princess Diana in 1997 as making her feel ‘complete’
The princess (pictured in Angola in 1997) had not only walked through a partially cleared minefield in Angola to raise awareness about the issue of the weapons, but spent time with people maimed by the munitions laid during a bloody civil war
Ms Thijika (left with Prince Harry) said after chatting to Harry (right during a speech): ‘I think I met Princess Diana on a Tuesday, she came to the centre and she wanted to see how a change of prosthetic limb was done’
Harry sounded a positive note, telling her: ‘Your children will be growing up to your age and there won’t be any landmines.’
In response to Harry’s pledge, the 38-year-old said: ‘I’m very happy to hear him say that, it feels like the work in Angola will continue and we will be landmine free.’
She said about meeting Harry: ‘This is a long story and this is a beautiful story because I’ve come out of the province to meet Diana’s son, so this is putting the focus on all of us who have physical disabilities.
‘So it’s good for Angola that the world can see we need help that we need help and much can be done for us.’
It is reported that the Prince also met with President Lourenço to discuss continuing the campaign to remove landmines from the country.
Speaking afterwards the prince said: ‘Landmines are an unhealed scar of war. By clearing the landmines we can help this community find peace, and with peace comes opportunity.’
Uniformed military saluted the Duke of Sussex as he arrived for an audience with leader João Lourenço at the presidential palace in Luanda, Angola on Saturday – the sixth day of his royal tour of Africa with wife Meghan and baby Archie
The Duke of Sussex, pictured left on Saturday during a meeting with First Lady Ana Dias Lourenco, second right, learned about the project before heading to Luanda airport to fly to the next stop on the royal tour, Malawi
He and his wife, the Duchess of Sussex, also posted a message on their official Instagram page in which they honoured his mother’s work which ‘helped change the course of history’.
They added: ‘The Duke is humbled to be visiting a place and a community that was so special to his mother, and to recognise her tireless mission as an advocate for all those she felt needed her voice the most, even if the issue was not universally popular.’
In Botswana on Thursday Harry hugged a young woman with HIV as he spoke about escaping to Botswana in the wake of his mother’s death.
In a touching reunion, Harry embraced 20-year-old Tlotlo Moilwa, who lost her mother and father to AIDS when she was four-years-old before testing positive for HIV herself.
The Duke of Sussex helped schoolchildren plant trees at the Chobe Tree Reserve in Botswana, on day four of the tour of Africa
Prince Harry hugged Tlotlo Moilwa, who lost her mother and father to AIDS when she was four-years-old and is HIV positive, during a visit to the Kasane Health Post, run by the Sentebale charity, in Botswana on Thursday
The pair met in London two years ago and the Duke clearly recognised Tlotlo as he threw his arms around her.
Earlier in the day, the Prince also gave an impassioned speech backing teenage activist Greta Thunberg as he declared the world was in a state of ’emergency’ and ‘losing’ the battle against climate change.
He had arrived by the banks of Botswana’s Chobe River in the north of the country to take part in a tree-planting project – straining with dozens of people to get a huge sapling into the ground.
The Duke then stressed saving the environment was a race against time, adding: ‘Led by Greta, the world’s children are striking.’
Harry also spoke about how Bostwana offered him a place to escape to following the death of his mother, Diana, Princess of Wales.
He said: ‘Fifteen years I’ve been coming here, it’s a sense of escapism, a real sense of purpose … I have some of my closest friends here over the years.
‘I came here in 1997 or 1998 straight after my mum died, so it was a nice place to get away from it all. I feel deeply connected to this place and to Africa.’
Tomorrow the 10-day official tour will continue in Malawi, with Prince Harry expected to arrive in the capital Lilongwe during the morning and during his first day there will visit Nalikule College of Education.
He will interact with young women who are supported to attend and complete secondary school with the help of UKAid bursaries through the Campaign for Female Education.
After this stop he will meet President Peter Mutharika and in the evening attend a Reception hosted by the British High Commissioner.
On Monday among the Duke’s engagements will be a visit to Liwonde National Park to pay tribute to guardsman Mathew Talbot of the Coldstream Guards, who lost his life in May 2019 while on an anti-poaching patrol.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s royal tour schedule
Day One – 23 September
The tour began in a township in Cape Town, South Africa where Prince Harry and Meghan joined children at a workshop that teaches children about their rights and provides self-defence classes.
The couple also toured District Six Museum to learn about the work done to reunite people affected by the apartheid.
Day Two – 24 September
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex travelled to Monwabisi Beach nearby to learn about Waves for Change’s therapy programme for those who have been affected by violence.
Prince Harry then joined the City of Cape Town Marine Unit to learn about the work done to combat illegal poaching.
In the afternoon, Meghan and Harry visited the oldest mosque in the country and finally attend a reception at the British High Commissioner’s Resident.
Day Three – 25 September
The Sussexes accompanied by baby Archie met the anti-Apartheid Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Mrs Tutu at their legacy foundation.
From here, Their Royal Highnesses’ programme split – The Duke will travel to Botswana while The Duchess remains in South Africa.
Meghan then remained in South Africa, visiting the Woodstock Exchange that encourages female entrepreneurs.
Day Four – 26 September
The Duke made a working visit to Botswana, first travelling to Chobe Forest Tree Reserve to join schoolchildren to plant trees and raise awareness of the fragility of these vital ecosystems.
Prince Harry then spent the evening of 26th September at a new HALO Trust demining camp.
Meghan Markle took part in a Women in Public Service breakfast at the High Commission in Cape Town.
Day Five – 27 September
The Duke remotely detonated a mine in a field outside Dirico. He saw aspects of the legacy that his mother Princess Diana started in raising awareness for the threat of landmines.
He later met members of the local community and victims of landmines. His Royal Highness will give remarks about the importance of continuing de-mining.
Day Six – 28 September
The Duke has attended an Audience with Angolan President Lourenço at the Presidential Palace.
He then visited the Maternity Hospital Lucrécia Paim to see the work of a project spearheaded by First Lady Ana Dias Lourenço ‘Born Free to Shine’ which focuses on preventing HIV/AIDS transmission from mothers to babies.
Meghan, meanwhile, visited a memorial to a young South African woman whose rape and murder inspired thousands of people to protest the country’s high rate of sexual violence.
Day Seven – 29 September
The Duke is set to arrive in Lilongwe, Malawi in the morning. He will later visit Nalikule College of Education and interact with a network of young women who are supported to attend and complete secondary school with the help of UKAid bursaries through the Campaign for Female Education.
The Duke will then attend an Audience with the President Peter Mutharika, and in the evening attend a Reception hosted by the British High Commissioner.
Day Eight – 30 September
Prince Harry will fly in to Liwonde National Park to pay tribute to guardsman Mathew Talbot of the Coldstream Guards, who lost his life in May 2019 while on an anti-poaching patrol.
His Royal Highness will witness an anti-poaching demonstration exercise conducted jointly by local rangers and UK military deployed on Operation CORDED. To conclude,
Meghan will dedicate Liwonde National Park and the adjoining Mangochi Forest to the Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy project to protect parkland from deforestation and other similar activities.
Day Nine – 1 October
On the last day of his solo leg of the tour, the Duke will visit the Mauwa Heath Centre before heading back to South Africa.
The Duchess of Sussex will attend a round-table discussion with the Association of Commonwealth Universities in Johannesburg. She will also meet academics and students to discuss the challenges faced by young women in accessing Higher Education.
Day Ten – 2 October
Have joined back up the previous evening, the Duke and Duchess will visit a township near Johannesburg to meet with inspiring local youth.
They will also meet with Grace Machel, the widow of the late President Nelson Mandela. To close the tour, the royals will attend an audience with President Cyril Ramaphosa and his wife Dr Tshepo Motsepe. They are expected to depart for London that evening.