After yesterday’s more casual events on Fraser Island in Australia, Meghan and Harry travelled to Fiji to meet with the island nation’s political leaders
Meghan and Harry were greeted by hundreds of flag-waving well-wishers – including some school children in uniform and people who lined the streets and waved both British Union Jack and Fijian flags.
Harry inspected a guard of honour at the official welcome ceremony.
British High Commissioner to Fiji Melanie Hopkins said:
“It’s wonderful and tremendous. We are so excited about this visit, and I really hope that this is a visit for all of Fiji and it will be a great moment of celebration and joy about the special relationship, and I know that the royal couple are really looking forward to coming to Fiji.”
Harry and Meghan left for their next engagement; a meeting with Fiji’s President, Jioji Konrote and his wife at Borron House.
Meghan and Harry discussed the plans for the tour in region – and posed for a group photo.
Meghan got gifted a gorgeous pearl necklace as a gift from the president and his wife. The exquisite pearl had been farmed and harvested by J Hunter Pearls in Savusavu. Ms Hunter revealed afterwards the the President’s Office had approached them to craft something special for Meghan.
She said: “It’s a unique piece as the pearl is known all around the world for its rarity and colour,” adding that she had been actively working on the piece for the past week. “We just needed to have the perfect piece.”
She also said: “I personally put together top-quality pearls from the harvest” adding that: “Since this was a one-off opportunity, we picked the most elegant and best pearls.”
From Borron House, Meghan and Harry attended the official welcome ceremony in the city centre’s Albert Park. The ceremony, known as the Veirqaraqaravi Vakavanua, embodies Fijian cultural identity and heritage.
“The couple sat on a raised Dias with everyone seated below them as a mark of respect. No-one is allowed to wear anything on their heads or have anything above their head like an umbrella. And don’t expect any clapping or cheering – according to Fijian tradition the ceremony is meant to be carried out in complete silence.”
Harry was offered a traditional drink kava – the national drink of Fiji, which is consumed with great ceremony. It is made from a pepper plant – piper methysticum – pounded into fine powder and then mixed into fresh water. He was also offered a roast pig and a whale’s tooth.
Facts about Fiji:
”Fiji is a tropical island nation located in Oceania in the South Pacific Ocean and comprises an archipelago of more than 332 islands, 110 of which are permanently inhabited. Fiji is located about two-thirds of the way from Hawaii to New Zealand, and immediate neighbors include Vanuatu, Tonga, and Samoa. The government system is a republic; the chief of state is the president, and the head of government is the prime minister. Fiji has a mixed economy which includes a variety of private freedom, combined with centralized economic planning and government regulation.”
Harry and Meghan then made their way to the balcony of the hotel they are staying in, the Grand Pacific Hotel…
… just as the Queen had done in 1953 alongside her husband Prince Phillip
Meghan and Harry repeated history with their visit to Fiji today. Back in 1953 and as a part of her first Commonwealth tour as Queen, The Queen and The Duke of Edinburg visited Fiji, making it the first time a British Sovereign has been there.
A video from the visit:
During their visit in Fiji, Meghan and Harry will be staying at the Grand Pacific Hotel in the city of Suva, where the Queen also stayed in 1953.
Built in 1914, the Grand Pacific Hotel is one of the oldest hotels in Fiji. It’s been renovated though the years, but it retains many of its original colonial architectural designs.
The hotel has welcomed many famous guests and historical figures thought-out the years. In 1915 Dame Nellie Melba visited while Sir Charles Kingsford Smith landed the “Southern Cross” opposite in Albert Park on his flight across the Pacific in 1928. As for the royal family, Edward Prince of Wales (later King Edward VIII) in 1920, the Duke of York (later King George VI) in 1927. The Queen attended a Grand Ball held in her honour in December 1953, and visited again in 1973 when a state dinner was held in the dining room.
Meghan looked amazing in an Aussie favorite, Zimmermann dress. The dress is a customized version of the style pictured below.
Meghan wore a hat British milliner Stephen Jones.
And her Tabitha Simmons Millie Slingback pumps.
Meghan carried her Kayu Anne black straw clutch.
She accessorized the outfit with pearl earrings The Queen gifted her on the Royal Train before a day of engagements in Chester.
And the tennis bracelet which she was gifted from Prince Charles shortly before she married Harry. Meghan wore it as she was photographed the day before her wedding. It is from Cartier’s “Essential Lines” collection.
Later, we will see the couple for a State Dinner!