The Sussex Team

Meghan and Harry pay visit to Pillars in support of children of prisoners

After a quick outfit change, Meghan and Harry paid a visit to a charity dedicated to supporting the children of prisoners through mentoring schemes and in-home support.

Credit: Doug Peters / Alamy Stock Photo

Ahead of their wedding in May, Meghan and Harry requested that in lieu of wedding gifts, donations be made to charity. The New Zealand Government gifted $5000 to Pillars, due to the couple’s interest in programmes that support vulnerable children. Pillars, which celebrated its 30th anniversary this year, is the only New Zealand charity dedicated to supporting children of prisoners

Meghan and Harry were joined by Prime Minister Jacinda for the visit

Credit: Doug Peters / Alamy Stock Photo

Meghan and Harry were welcomed with a karanga and were taken for a tour of the organisation to learn more about what they do.

Credit: NZ Herald

More than 23,000 New Zealand children have a parent in prison and are 9 times more likely to end up in prison as adults. The charity aims to build a “positive futures for the children and whanau of prisoners in Aotearoa, breaking the cycle of intergenerational offending.”

They offer a a range of programmes ranging providing mentoring support for the children, to help them develop a strong relationship with their father in prison. They have offices in Auckland, Hamilton, Christchurch, Dunedin and Invercargill.  Their head office is located in Christchurch where the programme was first developed.

About 200 people, including children, their families and supporters of Pillars were waiting excitedly downstairs in the auditorium for Harry and Meghan to arrive.

When they did, Meghan was handed a bunch of flowers by six-year-old Ghianna Angi dressed in a white dress.

Credit: Doug Peters / Alamy Stock Photo

Everyone stood in unison as the couple were greeted by the Pillars Board. The crowd sung waitata, He Honore, in harmony.

Harry gave a speech at the event, saying he and Meghan were thrilled to be able to spend time with Pillars during their first trip to Auckland together.

He also revealed that both he and Meghan first became aware of Pillars – and the work they were doing – when the donation was made as their wedding gift from the government. He said thousands of children were affected, and without the right support they were much more likely to spend time in prison.

“But now children can have stability in times of turmoil. It’s been a real pleasure to meet you and four award winners. You are outstanding young people.”

Prince Harry urged them to use this opportunity to create exciting futures for yourselves. “Couldn’t be happier to support such fantastic work. Kia kaha!”

Credit: REUTERS / Alamy Stock Photo

Meghan presented awards to four young adults. They posed for photos and were handed a framed certificate.

Credit: REUTERS / Alamy Stock Photo

The couple were in return given a pillars hoodie. The crowd hollered as Prince Harry held his up.

Credit: REUTERS / Alamy Stock Photo

Meghan and Harry then went outside with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and joined by Auckland Mayor Phil Goff for a walkabout! After raining for most of the day in Auckland, the weather gods gave some respite for their last outdoor event of the day.

Credit: Sipa US / Alamy Stock Photo

Meghan and Harry made their way slowly through the crowd, stopping to shake hands and speaking with as many people as possible.

Credit: Sipa US / Alamy Stock Photo

Fans came from far and wide for a chance to meet royalty in person. A group of eight Auckland high school students took the day off school to meet Meghan and Harry

One of the girls’ named Charlotte Marsh said: “They’re such a beautiful couple and doing such great things,” adding she hoped the school would be easy on them tomorrow, but even if they got in trouble, it’s going to be worth it, because Meghan stopped to chat to them. She said:

“She shook all of our hands,” they gushed, swearing they would never be washing their hands again.

“I couldn’t believe it, I didn’t know what to say, said one. She told the girls to “continue doing good work and to push for what we believe in. She told us don’t quit school again – and we won’t!”

Credit: Sipa US / Alamy Stock Photo

83-year-old Genevieve Bakker, 79-year-old Fay Simpson and 71-year-old Verna Jamieson who lives nearby, had a walk down to the Viaduct in the hope of catching a glimpse of Meghan and Harry. They saw Harry last time he was visiting in 2015 and said he was gorgeous and friendly but “is much happier now ” that he has met Meghan. “You can see it,” says Genevieve. “They’ve both shown what love is. Royals have never been like that before… they’re very open, very casual.”

Credit: Sipa US / Alamy Stock Photo

Meghan also met the cutest little girl named who gifted her a toy-bird for Baby Sussex. Meghan asked her what her name was, with her mom replying “Zoe”. Meghan replied: “I’m going to name it Zoe. Thank you so much. I love it”.

Credit: REUTERS / Alamy Stock Photo

At one point the crowd broke into song, singing the Māori version of the national anthem. Some cheeky fans also asked Meghan “if Louis is really Litt”.

Meghan and Harry received many gifts from the crowd, including an All-Blacks baby onesie, a jar of Marmite and a kid’s book. Baby Sussex was really spoiled!

Credit: Doug Peters / Alamy Stock Photo

Meghan also stopped up to talk to a girl she recognized in the crowd. Her name is Hannah Sergel, and she travelled from Christchurch to meet Meghan today. Hannah later told that used to follow her on Instagram before she deactivated her account. They had chatted online before, but this was their first-time meeting in person.

Watch the meeting here:

She later revealed that Meghan: “said thank you for getting in touch and then she gave me a hug and said she would read my letter that I gave her. I was friends with her on Instagram before she had to deactivate her account. We used to have conversations and stuff on there. She would tell me to do well at university and encourage me to be myself. It means the world to me. I am so shaky and flustered. When I first saw her, I cried.”

A video from the walkabout:

Meghan wore a custom-made Brandon Maxwell ecru midi dress. It seems to be similar to the yellow dress she wore by the designer earlier this year.

She styled it with her Burberry Maythorne trench coat

Accompanied with her trusted Stuart Weitzman Legend pumps in haze beige.

And finally, she accessorized with the Boh Runga Discologo earrings Jacinda Ardern gifted her.

For tonight: Meghan and Harry will attend a Reception hosted by Prime Minister Jacinda at the Auckland War Memorial Museum.

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