Meghan Markle Visits Forest in Tonga Despite Zika Concerns — and Debuts Second Dress of the Day
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry are getting in touch with Tongan nature
On Friday (local time), the royal couple, who are expecting their first child in the spring, traveled to Tonga’s Tupou College, the oldest secondary school in the Pacific after being founded by a British missionary in 1866, where they dedicated two forest reserves at the school’s on-site forest – the Toloa Forest Reserve.
The last remaining forest area on Tonga’s main island of Tongatapu, and the Eua National Park Forest Reserve, located at the Island of Eua, are being admitted into the Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy. The initiative began in 2015 as a network of forest conservation program throughout the 53 countries of the Commonwealth.
Meghan’s visit to the reserve comes as a surprise as she had skipped a forest visit in Fiji as a precautionary measure against mosquitos. The Zika virus, which causes birth defects, including microcephaly, has been detected in both Fiji and Tonga.
Later in the visit, Harry will give a speech and walk through the forest, however, Meghan will likely opt out of that portion of the engagement as an extra precautionary measure.
The pregnant royal, who sought medical advice about the Zika virus ahead of the tour, took precautions upon arrival in Fiji. Adhering to general recommendations by medical professionals, Meghan arrived at the airport in a long-sleeved white dress after wearing several sleeveless dresses in Sydney.
And she was spotted with insect repellent on her arms during her first night in Tonga.
Meghan did a quick change in between engagements on Friday, changing out of her green-and-white striped Martin Grant dress that she wore to meet the prime minister, and into a sky blue shirt dress by Veronica Beard for her next outing.
The Tupou College Boys Choir performed traditional Tongan music to commemorate the event.
This isn’t the first college stop on the couple’s royal tour. Meghan addressed students and staff at the University of the South Pacific in Suva, Fiji, to share her own college experience at Northwestern University and announce two new grants that support female staff members at the school in her first royal tour speech.
After a farewell with King Tupou VI, Meghan and Harry will return to Sydney, Australia, for the closing ceremony of the Invictus Games. Then, it will be on to New Zealand to wrap up their tour.