After the royal couple arrived at Nausori Airport on Tuesday, they met with Fijian President Jioji Konrote and headed to an official welcome ceremony in Albert Park

By Stephanie Petit
October 23, 2018 08:48 AM
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Meghan Markle and Prince Harry received quite the welcome to Fiji.

After the royal couple — who recently announced they are expecting their first child — arrived at Nausori Airport on Tuesday, they met with Fijian President Jioji Konrote and headed to an official welcome ceremony in Albert Park.

The ceremony, known as the Veirqaraqaravi Vakavanua, embodies Fijian cultural identity and heritage. It mirrored that of the one attended by Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip in 1953, including the presentation of the Tabua and the performance of a traditional dance, known as the Meke, by members of the Nakelo village.

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Meghan Markle and Prince Harry
| Credit: Tim Rooke/REX/Shutterstock
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry
| Credit: REX/Shutterstock
Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip visit Fiji in 1982
| Credit: Tim Graham/Getty Images

Harry was cheered on by the crowd of around 15,000 as he took a sip of kava, a non-alcoholic drink traditionally served at social events. Although the herb is used to treat anxiety, concerns about its effect on the liver means it has been banned from being imported to the EU since 2003.

“Bula vinaka!” Harry told the crowd, demonstrating his knowledge of the Fijian greeting. “The Duchess and I look forward to meeting as many of you as possible during the next two days and celebrating the links and close friendship between Fiji and the United Kingdom.”

Meghan, 37, and Harry, 34, also received woven fans – personalized with “HRH” (His/Her Royal Highness) on them!

Meghan Markle
| Credit: REX/Shutterstock
Prince Harry
| Credit: REX/Shutterstock
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry
| Credit: Press Association via AP Images

The couple then headed to the Grand Pacific Hotel and greeted well wishes from the balcony – just as Harry’s grandparents, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, did during their visit to Fiji in 1953.

The Queen has stayed at the hotel five times – and Harry’s father, Prince Charles, has also been a guest on several occasions.

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry
| Credit: SplashNews.com
Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip in 1953
| Credit: Central Press/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Later in the evening – and after an outfit change, which saw Meghan in her first evening gown of the couple’s tour Down Under – Harry spoke at a reception and state dinner hosted by Fiji’s president.

Harry said he and Meghan were “overwhelmed by the warm Fijian welcome we received from the people of these beautiful islands this afternoon in Albert Park, and all the way from the airport! It really is a privilege to be here.”

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry
| Credit: Press Association via AP Images

“This visit is particularly nostalgic for us as a young married couple – my grandparents stayed in this very hotel, the Grand Pacific, a number of times over the years.”

The Duke of Sussex added, “As you know, Fiji has a long tradition of welcoming Royal visitors over the years and our two countries have enjoyed a close relationship and friendship. We share Commonwealth values and common goals – a love of rugby and a sense of humor! Our ties run deep.”