Our duchess was greeted with class from students today as she for a round-table discussion at the University of Johannesburg for her first public engagement in the city!
And what a welcome! Young students lined up along a bridge overlooking the entrance to catch a glimpse of Meghan as she made her way into the building. Screams and shouts went up as Meghan’s car door opened, and she gave a wave to the students before going inside.
20-year-old Hlengiwe Nhlapo, who is studying public relations and communications was there ans said afterwards:
“It’s exciting because she’s an inspiration to women. What happened to her, her story, it inspires people that anything can happen to you.”
“I started watching her in Suits so I knew her from Suits. And my mom would always talk about Princess Diana, so I would always know about the royal family, would watch the weddings over the years. But actually seeing Meghan getting married to Harry was a big thing. I was at home in front of the TV and it was just so beautiful to watch.”
22-year old Faith Ghlamini from Cape Town, who is studying entrepreneurship, missed her finance class to catch a glimpse of Meghan, joking “this is commitment” about her dedication to seeing Meghan.
“She paves a path of thinking differently; you can do anything, you can be anything,” she said.
Meghan was pictured boarding a British Airways flight at Cape Town International Airport on Saturday with Archie in her arms. Harry, meanwhile, is making his way from Angola to Malawi, where he will remain until Tuesday when he joins Meghan and Archie. Meghan’s departure comes after she a secret visit to the site where University of Cape Town student Uyinene Mrwetyana was brutally tortured, raped and murdered a week ago.
Meghan was warmly welcomed by Susana Glavan, Director of the British Council in South Africa.
After smiling and waving to the crowd, Meghan made her way upstairs to meet with Professor Tshilidzi Marwala, Vice Chancellor of the University and Dr Joanna Newman, Secretary General of the ACU.
The ACU (the Association of Commonwealth Universities) was established in 1913 and aims to bring together universities worldwide to advance knowledge, promote understanding, broaden minds, and improve lives. The organization provides higher education helps to expand opportunities for students and academics and promotes international collaboration.
After holding the position for 33 years, The Queen announced Meghan as Patron of ACU in January 2019. A very relevant announcement for Meghan, who has been a strong advocate of accessible education for all.
Meghan joined educators and student for a discussion about the challenges girls have in accessing higher education.
During their visit to Fiji in 2018 Meghan and Harry announced a new Gender Grants for ACU member universities in the Pacific to fund new learning initiatives aimed at empowering female university staff and promoting gender equality.
And today she did the exact same by announcing three new gender grants that will be given to researchers at the University of Johannesburg, the University of Stellenbosch and the University of the Western Cape.
“Thank you so much for having me, I’m so excited to be here,” saying that this project is “truly and deeply meaningful” to her on a personal level.
“The goal here is to be able to have gender equality, to be able to support women as they are working in research and higher education roles, and also to have workshops to convene things that are really helping people understand the importance of gender equality.”
“When a woman is in power,” Meghan said, “it changes absolutely everything in the community and starting in an educational atmosphere is really a key point of that.”
Meghan was also very excited to announce four new Queen Elizabeth Commonwealth scholarships, which will be given to students from Tanzania, Zambia and Nigeria to study in South Africa next year.
“Universality connects all of us,” she said, “so with students being able to study in a cross-cultural environment not only are they able to absorb the knowledge in that community but [so that] they are able to bring that back home.”
About the Queen Elizabeth Commonwealth Scholarships:
“Queen Elizabeth Commonwealth Scholarships are a life-changing opportunity for cultural exchange and academic collaboration, providing opportunities to study for a two-year Masters in unique environments across the globe.
These scholarships are for students committed to creating change in their communities and contributing to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Scholars build deeper and stronger links across the Commonwealth network, acting as ambassadors between home and host countries.
More than 35,000 individuals have benefitted from the life-changing opportunities a Commonwealth Scholarship offers and contribute to the development of the future Commonwealth.!
Have watch below
Meghan also mentioned her visit to Victoria Yards.
“Yesterday I had a really interesting conversation about the economy and well-being. I think so much of what we should be talking about, and energies should be focused on, specifically with the ACU is supporting people to know if you don’t have the support that is necessary, that you feel you can keep taking the next step, then you’re stumbling in growth. I went to university. It takes a village doesn’t it?”
One student involved in the debate, Tuni Mampame spoke afterwards about the “inspiring” duchess she met at the roundtable discussion.
“To know that somebody that looks like me, who is inspired as me, who possibly has the same background as me is actually thinking of that, is going for it and is getting the necessary support to change different aspects and different parts of our country and our continent. [I’m] Inspired, I think I’m going to use that word a lot today, inspired!”
Many students were gathered for a glimpse of Meghan:
Meghan wore the Banana Republic’s Double-Breasted Trench Dress in khaki
Accompanied with a pair of Stuart Weitzman Legend pumps in haze beige
Later today, Meghan will visit a local school in Johannesburg to discuss a range of issues including gender based and sexual violence in schools.