Harry and Meghan arrived at the Atlas Mountains in Asni today, a small town in the High Atlas Mountains 50 kilometers south of Marrakech.
Yesterday, UK Ambassador to Morocco Thomas Reilly posted an Instagram post from the region with a caption to express his excitement for the visit. “The sun rises on the #Atlas mountains and is the last day before the arrival of the #RoyalVisitMorocco,” he said. He added that “the weather is nice and the mountains are beautiful with their snow caps.”
A Kensington Palace aide said yesterday that: “Their Royal Highnesses are very much looking forward to the visit and are grateful to their hosts and the British Embassy for arranging such an interesting programme. They are particularly pleased that they will have the opportunity to meet so many young Moroccans over the next few days.”.
It’s been some busy 24 hours for Harry and Meghan; they arrived in Casablanca yesterday on a delayed Royal Air Maroc commercial to greetings by the British Ambassador to Morocco and his wife and a short arrival ceremony, before they were driven to the royal residence in Rabat where they were greeted by Crown Prince Moulay Hassan.
Meghan and Harry arrived by helicopter to the Atlas Mountains in Asni for a day focusing on education. They kicked off the day by visiting the dormitory run by Education for All, an NGO that builds boarding houses near schools to reduce school drop-out rates among girls aged 12 to 18.
As the couple arrived, they were greeted by the girls singing a traditional song and playing drums while waving the flags of Morocco and Britain.
Meghan and Harry then went inside to take part in a henna ceremony – an ancient custom that has its roots in North Africa – and had a design painted on her hand to celebrate her pregnancy. The traditional henna flower was applied by 17-year-old Samira, who has lived at Education For All for six years.
A closer look:
Meghan and Harry also toured the school and chatted with teachers and students at the school, where most of the girls were fluent only in French. This didn’t present a problem for the Duchess, who happily conversed with them.
She asked, in French: “Ce que tu veux être quand tu quittes l’école? (What do you want to do when you leave school)”
She also asked: “Vous voulez aller à l’université, (Do you want to go to university)” and was very impressed when the girls told her they wanted to be “teachers, engineers and doctors, big dreams.”
The visit is very fitting for especially Meghan with the Queen passing down her patronage of the Association of Commonwealth Universities to Meghan. We also saw first-hand Meghan’s passion for accessible education for girls during a speech on her first royal tour back in October 2018. When speaking to a group of students at the University of the South Pacific in Fiji, Meghan said, “Everyone should be afforded the opportunity to receive the education they want, but more importantly the education they have the right to receive. And for women and girls in developing countries, this is vital.”
Very few girls from the rural communities of the High Atlas Mountains get the opportunity of continuing their education beyond primary school. Secondary schools, mostly several kilometers away in larger towns, are not accessible to them because their parents cannot afford to pay for lodgings or transport near secondary schools or they do not have the confidence in existing facilities to entrust their daughters to be away from home.
And despite the Moroccan Government’s support of education policy and women’s rights, half of the country is not literate, and in rural areas, up to 83% of women are illiterate. Education For All helps provide the opportunity of secondary education for girls from the High Atlas Mountain region. Everything is provided for free – 3 nutritious meals a day, hot showers, cozy beds, access to computers, study support via an international volunteer program and dedicated, local housemothers.
Before departing, Meghan and Harry greeted two sisters Rania Minejem aged 5, and Ayhana Minejem aged 2! The little girls, who were dressed in matching red dresses, were taken by their mother, Clare Minejem to meet “the prince and the princess!
Mail Online reported:
‘Meanwhile, two little girls got their wish to meet ‘the Prince and Princess’ after waiting in their party dresses for two hours. Rania, five, and Ryannna, two, were taken by their mother, Clare Minejem to see Harry and Meghan as they visited the small town in the Atlas Mountains.
The couple walked in without seeing the youngsters, who were waving a British and Moroccan flags, but they spotted them as they left and Meghan immediately made a beeline for the sisters and bent down to say hello. Meghan shook their hands and said: ‘Hi girls, so cute! What are are your names? So sweet!‘ The duchess also showed them a henna drawing on her hand and said: ‘Nice, isn’t it? So pretty! ‘
The girls’ mother is nurse who moved to Morocco from Bangor, Northern Ireland, 12 years ago and settled down in Marrakesh, where she also runs a health education charity. As her couple said their goodbyes, her father, Russell McCaughey, who is visiting shouted out to a laughing Harry: ‘No grand slam then?‘ in relation to the England rugby result. ‘No-one did,’ he shouted back.’
UK Ambassador to Morocco Thomas Reilly heaped praise on the royal couple for the trip.
“This was a very different kind of trip – personal, informal, and away from the pomp and pageantry of traditional visits. Moroccans loved the way Meghan and Harry were so spontaneous and cared so deeply. Here’s a woman jumping into a helicopter to fly 1,400 meters high, still smiling and ready to do it all, ready to push the issues that matter.”
“A proud day yesterday! Was it a dream?” the Education for All posted on Twitter after the visit: “We are so grateful for our time with Harry and Meghan. It inspired us and motivated us to be the best we can be.”
From there, Meghan and Harry then visited the Lycée Qualifiant Grand Atlas secondary school, where they were warmly welcomed by officials and students of the school.
They kicked off the visit by observing a class practicing English lessons.
Meghan and Harry also attended a soccer match played by the school’s two mixed teams. They chatted with the players ahead of the game
A nice shot of a Sussex moment
And they posed for a photo with the students
A quick shirt and shoes change later, Meghan and Harry awarded an MBE honor to Michael McHugo at another Education for All building. The British entrepreneur is the founder of “Education for All.” An MBE is a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, which is given by the queen for outstanding community service.
For a day of engagement at the Atlas Mountains, Meghan opted for a very casual look for her engagements in Asni today!
She wore the Alice + Olivia Simpson Collarless Blazer!
Underneath she wore the Misha Nonoo’s Cashmere Crew Neck.
She wore her Birdies Starling slippers from her pre-royal days!
She styled her outfit with Artizia Wilfred Diamond Mosaic Scarf in Birch/Grey
She also wore the Illesteva York Sunglasses.
While awarding an MBE honor to Michael McHugo, Meghan changed from the Misha Nonoo’s Cashmere Crew Neck to the Artizia Babaton Roland Blouse
An amazing day for Harry and Meghan in the Atlas Mountains. We will see Meghan and Harry again later this evening for a reception at the Ambassadors’ residence. Stay tuned.