Meghan Markle and Prince Harry have revealed they felt ‘fortunate’ to have witnessed their son Archie’s first steps during the Covid-19 crisis as they joined activist Malala Yousafzai for a virtual chat today.
The Duke, 36, and Duchess of Sussex, 39, who are currently living in their $14 million Santa Barbara mansion having stepped back from royal duty in March, appeared in a video with the activist, 23, this afternoon to celebrate International Day of the Girl.
The royals discussed the importance of a girl’s right to a fair education with the Nobel laureate and spoke about how the Covid-19 outbreak has had a disproportionate impact on young women’s access to education.
Meanwhile Meghan also revealed they had been having ‘a lot of good family time’ during the pandemic, with Prince Harry saying: ‘We were both there for Archie’s first steps, his first run, his first fall, everything.’
Meghan added: ‘It’s just fantastic and in so many ways we are fortunate to have this time to watch him grow. In the absence of Covid, we would be travelling and working more externally and we’d have missed a lot of those moments.’
Harry added: ‘These are really special moments, but we have been working really, really hard.’
The Duchess also added that the couple were raising their eighteen-month-old son Archie ‘in a way where everything about his nourishment is about educational substance and how you can learn and how you can grow.’
Earlier this year, Malala graduated from Oxford University having survived being shot in the head by a Taliban gunman at the age of 15 after campaigning for girls to be educated in her native Pakistan.
Meghan Markle, 39, and Prince Harry, 36, joined activist Malala Yousafzai, 23, for a virtual chat to celebrate International Day of the Girl on Sunday
The full video was released on the fund’s YouTube Channel and website at 4pm.
The Duchess opted for a chic sleeveless black polo neck for the occasion and paired the top with a pair of white chino trousers.
Meanwhile she swept her hair into a neat slicked back bun, and opted for a dark lipstick for the video call.
Speaking on the call, Meghan thanked Malala for speaking with them, adding: ‘Just thankyou so much for having us on such an important day. For girls all over the world, when young girls have access to education, everyone wins and succeeds. It opens the door for societal success.’
The activist went on to ask the couple about their own education, with Meghan saying: ‘In terms of education, not only did I have the ability to go to school at a young age but I also went to university.’
Meanwhile Prince Harry went on to say he had taken his education ‘for granted’, adding: ‘It is a privilege but every single person, every single young person across the world needs an education.
‘To know there are 113 million girls out of education, the numbers only going to go up. It worries me and probably worried all of us, the effect of that [a lack of education for women] has not only on the family but also on society as well.’
Meghan added: ‘Having the privilege to be able to go to school is something that oftentimes is taken from granted.
‘It’s very difficult for a lot of people to recognise that just the ability to have a schoolbook is a luxury for so many people.’
‘And to have grown up where books were plentiful, and I could whet my appetite and continue to learn, when I was within the grounds of the school or when I was back home…
Earlier this year, Malala graduated from Oxford University having survived being shot in the head by a Taliban gunman at the age of 15 after campaigning for girls to be educated in her native Pakistan
Prince Harry said: ‘I’m hugely grateful for the education I was lucky enough to have. At the time, I certainly, probably wasn’t as grateful, but looking back on it now, I’m very, very blessed with having such an amazing opportunity.’
Malala went on to make the couple laugh as she responded: ‘I think it takes boys slightly longer to understand how important education is but they get there in the end.
‘You’re blessed you have such a great companion Meghan.’
Malala asked Prince Harry how the role of women’s education could benefit climate change, with Prince Harry explaining: ‘The importance of girls’ education to help defer climate change is absolutely critical. And again, with an education, it provides money, income, which makes you less susceptible for disaster, less consumption,
‘So all of these things are so deeply connected to one another. Education at a young age opens up so may doors, so many possibilities , opportunities.’
‘And whether it’s within science, whether it’s within government, women are needed more and more. To be able to fill those gaps because the opportunity is vast and, well we know, that the world will benefit exponentially from it.’
The Duchess went on to ask Malala about how she felt graduating from Oxford during the period of Covid, with Malala explaining: ‘It was a very difficult time. I graduated at home, I took my exams at home. It was very difficult not to be in college anymore and not to be with friends. Not to have those traditionally ceremonies.
The couple spoke with the Nobel laureate about their own experience of education, with Prince Harry confessing he had ‘probably not been grateful’ for his schooling as a youngster
‘In Oxford, you go to your schools and celebrate with a trashing…It’s all part of that university life that we all missed. But I still was blessed that I still had the opportunity to learn from home.’
‘You know, there are 130 million girls out of school but an additional 20 million are at risk of dropping out because of the pandemic.
‘They are at risk of never being able to return to their schools because they are likely to be pushed into early child marriages, or they might become the bread winners or financial supporters of their families.
‘So I am more worried about those girls right now, and I think this pandemic is a crisis in the sector of education, and we need to focus on investment in education right now.
Meghan added: ‘What you say is so important for people to remember, it’s not just robbing a society from the cultural richness that comes from educating young girls and allowing the opportunity to develop into strong, educated women, it’s also robbing these young girls of a childhood.
Malala asked Meghan what had motivated her to become an advocate for girls’ education with the former actress replying: ‘Similar to you, you see something that is so critical to be addressed and so critical to be fixed and by fixing that one thing you end up fixing multiple problems.
‘What I realised very early on was that women have a seat at the table. Conversation in terms of police change, conversations in terms of legislation, and certainly in terms of the dynamics of the community are all shifted.
‘And typically, when a woman is present at the table, she’s gonna be advocating for an entire family, as opposed to a patriarchal presence.
‘And so when you have to see “how do you get a woman to embrace her voice?” You have to start when she is as a young girl.’
She continued: ‘Part of the reason that I did the work in India and also some work in Rwanda, as well, was to look at learning and education for young women.
‘And then separately, the hindrances that women in Indian were facing with menstrual management and the stigmatisation of that.
‘Really inhibiting them from being able to go to school and that alone creates a ripple effect for you entire life.’
Meghan added: ‘So much is at stake when we don’t give a women an opportunity to learn and to get an education.
‘I think there’s no greater time for all of us to acknowledge, with everything happening with Covid, for each of us to make a commitment. Yes, the layers upon layers of what is happening in the context of Covid-19 are immense.
The Duke and Duchess told the Nobel laureate that they had been enjoying ‘a lot of good family time’, with Meghan saying they felt ‘grateful’ to spend time with their son to witness moments they ‘otherwise might have missed out on’ in the absence of Covid (pictured, with their son Archie)
‘But all it has done is add on top of the problems that already existed, specifically in the sector of young girls. From our standpoint, how do we help you in your fight now?’
Malala responded that she had been in the fight since she was eleven, saying: ‘Covid has made things worse. This is an emergency right now, it’s a crisis right now. We have to make sure we do not ignore the issue of girl’s education.
‘It’s really important we keep on pushing for this.’
She added: ‘Right now we’re working in more than eight countries through Malala Fund, where girls’ education is needed urgently because these countries have the highest number of girls out of school and there’s the gender gaps when it comes to education.
‘Speaking from my own experience as an activist and my dad being an activist, is that supporting local educators and activists has a huge role in transforming societies and communities.’
‘So we are working with girls’ education activists in these eight countries, including Nigeria, Brazil, Pakistan, Afghanistan and India and they are identifying the issues that girls are facing locally because the issues vary when it comes to lack of access to education.
‘In some places it’s transport issues, in other places it is lack of infrastructure. In other places, it is the culture norms and traditions.’
‘But these local activists are now adapting to the Covid changes, especially because girls are back home.’
She continued: ‘They are not able to access their schools, so they’re finding new ways in which they can ensure that girls do not miss out on their education.
‘In Nigeria, out activists are using the radio there, in which they are doing daily lessons and courses in education so children do no miss out.
‘And you know, globally we have recognised how important it is that children continue learning. When children are not in schools, the economies, the societies, they are losing so much.’
The activist encouraged viewers to ‘write to local leaders’ and to ‘keep pushing’.
Later, she asked Prince Harry and Meghan how they had been spending the period of Covid, with Prince Harry joking: ‘On Zoom!’
Harry added: ‘We’ve been working really really hard and completely understand and get how challenging this is for absolutely everyone. The longer it goes on the more it’s going to be felt especially from a mental health aspect.
‘This is a really unifying moment to bring everyone together and acknowledge what everyone has been through, this traumatic experience, wherever you are in the world.’
As the couple bid farewell to the 23-year-old, Malala said: ‘I’m shortsighted so I can’t see the screen clearly. So I’m going to wear my glasses so I can see the screen clearly. I don’t know if Archie can talk yet, but all my best wishes and love and kisses to him.’
Meghan replied: ‘Stay safe, stay healthy and well. Please let us know if there’s anything additionally we can do to support you and your work.’
Before the pandemic, around 130 million girls around the world were not in school.
But research by the Malala Fund has suggested 20 million more secondary-school aged girls may never return to the classroom following the health crisis.
Ms Yousafzai was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman at the age of 15 after campaigning for girls to be educated in her native Pakistan.
Malala, who was airlifted to Britain after the shooting and made a full recovery.
She later founded the non-profit fund to support her work raising awareness of the difficulties facing girls accessing education, and went on to become the youngest-ever Nobel Peace Prize winner in 2014.
She has since received a degree from Oxford after finishing her schooling in Birmingham.
Meanwhile the duchess has long campaigned on female education and has spoken of how a lack of access to education is the single most important barrier to gender equality.
While Prince Harry previously met with Malala at the 2014 WE Day assembly in London, it is unknown if Meghan has ever spoken with the activist before.
It comes days after Meghan said that she ‘was the most trolled person in the entire world in 2019’ as she and Prince Harry made their podcast debut for World Mental Health Day.
The Duke and Duchess discussed the stigma surrounding the topic and ‘how we can all contribute to a healthier world: physically, mentally, emotionally and holistically’ with high school students from their Santa Barbara villa.
The podcast, entitled Teenager Therapy, describes itself online as ‘five stressed, sleep deprived, yet energetic teens sit down and talk about the struggles that come with being a teenager’.
The most recent episode starring Harry and Meghan went live yesterday and saw the couple talk to hosts Gael, Kayla and Thomas about their own experience of mental health.
Meghan said that the impact of the pandemic had pushed people increasingly toward the internet which she claimed opened up a ‘vulnerability’ and a place for ‘disconnection’.
She said: ‘I can speak personally because I’m told that in 2019 I was the most trolled person in the entire world – male or female.
‘Now eight months of that I wasn’t even visible. I was on maternity leave or with a baby. But what was able to just be manufactured and churned out. It’s almost unsurvivable.’
Meghan Markle said that she ‘was the most trolled person in the entire world in 2019’ and it was ‘almost un-survivable’ as she and Prince Harry made their podcast debut for World Mental Health Day
She added: ‘That’s so big you can’t even think about what that feels like because I don’t care if you’re 15 or 25 if people are saying things about you that aren’t true what that does to your mental and emotional health is so damaging.
‘And so I think from my standpoint, and part of the work that we do from our own personal experience, being able to talk to people and understand that even though our experience is unique to us – and obviously can seem very different to what people experience on the day-to-day – its still a human experience and that’s universal.
‘We all know what it feels like to have our feelings hurt, we all know what it feels like to be isolated or ‘othered’… we are all figuring it out.’
Meghan later added that she is now ‘doing really well’, and said: ‘The past few months have been layered for everyone, we certainly can’t complain, we are fortunate we all have our health, we have rooves over our heads.’
Harry added: ‘The unique part of our work is whatever you’re going through and whatever other people are going through, it’s all relative to that environment that they’re in.
‘For the majority of people I’ve spoken to in London, or in the UK, have been stuck in high-rise blocks of flats, unable to see any open grass or open green space.
‘We’ve felt incredibly grateful and fortunate to be able to have outdoor space where our son can walk his first steps. Outdoor space where he can just have enough space to run and move around. It’s a huge blessing.
‘It reminds me of how many people are stacked on top of each other and have been for month after month after month after month, and what that must do to people’s mental health.’
The Duke of Sussex said: ‘I think putting your self-care as a priority is hugely important, because vulnerability is not a weakness, showing vulnerability in today’s world especially, is a strength.
‘We could certainly see that more from some of those global leaders, because we got ourselves into this very deep hole which we need to come out of.’
Harry praised the teenage hosts and the younger generation for their openness surrounding mental health and personal difficulties, later telling the podcast that he meditates.
He continued: ‘The more we talk about it the more it becomes normal, and it is normal, and it’s not a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength.’
He added: ‘Our situation is somewhat unique but then every single person’s situation is unique, it’s a different version of the same thing.
‘For Meghan, she said on a global scale, that’s what happened in 2019, but if you’re a young girl or young boy at school, that’s your world, so if you’re being attacked, or being bullied or whatever is online… it feels the same.’
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex recorded the special podcast with Teenager Therapy earlier this week, with the episode going live today to mark World Mental Health Day (pictured, the teenage hosts of the podcast)
The Teenager Therapy podcast Twitter account shared this tweet ahead of the podcast going live today
Harry said: ‘I think it’s very easy to be sucked in and consumed by negativity, but we all have the choice to be able to cut that out of our lives.
‘Hate following has become a thing, you don’t need to do that. Just as much as we worry about, be concerned, and take notice of what we put in our bellies as a diet, the same applies for our eyes and our mind, what we’re consuming is affecting us.
‘For me, I made the choice not to read it, not to see it, and to remove myself from that, and to very much focus on the uplifting and the hopeful side.’
He added: ‘What I’ve seen so much over the years is people hiding behind usernames on the online space. There are things that are said digitally that nobody would say in person, of course.
‘But I think there’s a lot of projection that happens as well, I think many. many people are hurting, a lot, and are freaking out because of the way the world is and because of, sometimes, the echo chamber that has been created for them by the online platform that they’ve chosen to be on.
‘But also it comes down to control as well, you can control what you see, you can control what you do, so whether it’s notifications or whether it’s vibration ringtones, whatever it is, these things control you, rather than taking control.’
Earlier this week Harry and Meghan were spotted enjoying a rare evening out with close friends David Foster, a music producer, and actress Katharine McPhee, who recently announced they are expecting a baby.
Yesterday it was reported Harry could face a scolding by the Queen amid concerns over his public comments about US politics as royal staff prepare for him to return to the UK, according to reports.
It is thought that Palace staff have been told to ready Frogmore Cottage for the imminent return of the duke – without mention of Meghan Markle.
The Queen, 94, is likely to meet with Harry at her ‘HMS Bubble’ at Windsor after she returned in order to resume audiences and small engagements.
Today it was reported that Harry could face a scolding by the Queen amid concerns over his public comments about US politics as royal staff prepare for him to return to the UK – without mention of Meghan, according to reports