The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have been looking forward to their first tour with baby 
Archie for months

By Erin Hill
September 25, 2019 08:00 AM

The start of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry‘s South Africa tour marked a major return to public life for the Duchess of Sussex, who had been on maternity leave since welcoming Archie on May 6.

Behind the scenes she was quietly working on her capsule collection for the Smart Works charity and gearing up for the launch of her new foundation with Prince Harry, Sussex Royal, early next year. But mostly she was enjoying the time off with Archie at the family’s Frogmore Cottage home in Windsor.

“Meghan is so chill and relaxed as a mom,” a friend tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue.

The Duchess of Sussex, 38, debuted her laid-back California mom style during a family outing in July when she brought Archie to Harry’s charity polo match along with Kate Middleton and her three children.

RELATED: Meghan Markle and Prince Harry Given African Name for Son Archie — Find Out the Poignant Meaning

 

Meghan Markle and Archie
HENK KRUGER/AFP/Getty Images

“She was doting on him, there’s no doubt about that,” an onlooker told PEOPLE. “She was kissing and stroking him and bouncing him up and down.”

A friend previously told PEOPLE that Meghan’s “California roots are coming through” as she prepared to welcome her first child.

Meghan Markle and Archie in July
Samir Hussein/WireImage

The new parents have also gone on low-key outings with Archie around their home in Windsor. Last month they took him for a casual lunch at a local pub where onlookers said the baby boy “was as good as gold.”

The couple have been looking forward to their first tour with Archie for months. “They are both excited about Africa,” a source adds. And when it kicked off in Cape Town on Monday, they made it clear how personal this trip is for them.

Prince Harry, Meghan Markle and Archie
PA Wire/PA Images
Meghan Markle and Archie
HENK KRUGER/AFP/Getty Images

“While I am here with my husband as a member of the royal family, I want you to know that for me I am here with you as a mother, as a wife, as a woman, as a woman of color and as your sister,” Meghan said to cheers from the crowd on Monday.

Meghan is officially balancing motherhood with her royal duties on tour. After a beach outing on Tuesday, Meghan left to go check on Archie (who is with his nanny while his parents tackle their busy tour schedule), while Harry went on a solo outing with the Cape Town Marine Unit. The couple shared a sweet kiss as they got into separate cars.

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry
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Later in the day, Meghan opened up about life with Archie as she had tea with local residents in Bo Kaap.

“Our plate is so full with a 5-month-old at the moment — so busy!” she said.

She also revealed that “parenting” is a new strength that she and Harry are learning, and added that Harry is “the best dad,” while Harry responded, “No, she’s the best mom.”

Meghan was pictured coming off the plane with Archie in her arms on Monday morning. In a touching tribute to Princess Diana, Archie was seen wearing a white knit hat with a festive pom-pom that was very similar to the one Diana chose for a baby Harry to wear in January 1985 as they stepped off a plane in at Aberdeen Airport in Scotland. Harry was also around 4 months old at the time.

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry
Toby Melville/PA Images

Archie wasn’t far from fans’ minds during Monday’s outings. An excited onlooker hugged Meghan and Harry as she asked them: “Where’s Archie?”

Harry told her with a smile, “He’s sleeping.”

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When another fan asked about Archie, Harry admitted that the long flight tired his baby son out.

“He’s not grouchy, just exhausted!” he revealed.

On Wednesday, they took Archie on his first official royal outing to meet human rights activist Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

Toby Melville - Pool/Getty Images
Meghan Markle and Archie meet Archbishop Desmond Tutu
Toby Melville/PA Wire/PA Images

During the meeting, the royal couple had a lively laughter-filled chat with Harry revealing that Archie “constantly wants to stand.”

Meghan added, “He’s an old soul!”

“I think he is used to it already,” Harry said of his son.

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