Meghan Markle and Prince Harry Take Break from 'Family Time' Off to Back Key Causes

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry announced they will not be spending Christmas with Queen Elizabeth and the rest of the royal family this year

Even on vacation, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry are finding ways to support causes close to their hearts.

The royal couple stepped back from the public eye for some valuable “family time” together as the year comes to a close, but both Meghan and Harry returned to the spotlight on Tuesday to share special messages.

In honor of World Access to Higher Education Day, the Duchess of Sussex released a statement to her patronage, the Association of Commonwealth Universities.

“Today, on World Access to Higher Education Day, we are able to celebrate the vital role that colleges and universities play in society and how important it is for all people, regardless of gender or socioeconomic background, to have the opportunity to access this higher education. The value of this cannot be understated,” Meghan, a graduate of Northwestern University, said. “Because education expands mindsets, and those minds can then expand the scope of the world at large. From a micro to a macro level, it is with education that we see great change.”

Meghan, 38, also spoke about meeting Kenyan Simon Kiongo earlier this year and learning about how he traded vegetables from his family farm to cover his tuition costs.

“It struck me as such a prime example of how so many around the world yearn for education and do whatever they can to afford themselves that opportunity,” she said. “Now, with support from the ACU, he is doing remarkable cancer research for his country, specifically looking at fertilizers in the food supply and the carcinogenic links that has on community health. Simon is higher education in action.”

Meghan and harry
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry. Dominic Lipinski/PA

The royal mom concluded, “I am proud to be patron of the ACU and all that it stands for, as we champion those seeking a higher education and commit to making this world a better place – together.”

Prince Harry also made a special appearance at Oslo RevCon — via video message — to speak about continuing the work of his late mother, Princess Diana, to clear the world of dangerous landmines. His message comes just months after he visited the area of Angola where Diana famously walked through an active landmine field, now an active community.

“I truly wish that she could have seen the impact,” Harry said in the clip. “Today, nearly 4,000 landmines have been cleared from within a mile of where she walked. Where she saw danger and desolation, I saw a thriving community. Where she witnessed pain and suffering, I met hundreds of schoolchildren who had no idea that the pavement they stood on was once a mine field.

Princess Diana <a href="" data-inlink="true">Prince Harry</a> Duke of Sussex
Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty; Dominic Lipinski/PA Images

Meghan and Harry revealed they would take about six weeks off towards the end of the year amid their concerns that the intense scrutiny they’ve faced has been tough on the couple.

“The duke and duchess have a full schedule of engagements and commitments until mid-November, after which they will be taking some much-needed family time,” a royal source confirmed to PEOPLE.

<a href="" data-inlink="true">Prince Harry</a>, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex
Prince Harry, Meghan Markle and Archie. Toby Melville/WireImage

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The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are also skipping the annual holiday festivities at Sandringham — including their public walk to church on Christmas morning — with Queen Elizabeth and the rest of the royal family.

“The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are looking forward to extended family time towards the end of this month,” Buckingham Palace said in a statement on Wednesday. “Having spent the last two Christmases at Sandringham, Their Royal Highnesses will spend the holiday this year, as a new family, with the Duchess’ mother Doria Ragland. This decision is in line with precedent set previously by other members of the Royal Family, and has the support of Her Majesty The Queen.”

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