"I am here with you, and I am here for you," the royal mom said

By Stephanie Petit and Simon Perry
September 23, 2019 09:43 AM
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Meghan Markle‘s first-ever visit to South Africa is meaningful on many levels.

Both Meghan and Prince Harry gave speeches during the first stop of their royal tour on Monday, a visit to Cape Town’s Nyanga township, where the Duchess of Sussex proudly spoke about her many roles — including her Black heritage.

“On one personal note, may I just say that 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 as a mother, as a wife, as a woman, as a woman of color, and as your sister,” she said to cheers from the crowd.

“I am here with you, and I am here for you,” the royal mom, 38, continued.

Meghan also encouraged women to fight for “respect, dignity and equality” after watching young girls take a self-defense class.

Meghan Markle
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Prince Harry also spoke, specifically addressing violence against women in the area as well as his role as a husband and father to 4-month-old son Archie.

“No man is born to cause harm to women,” the 34-year-old royal dad said. “This is learned behavior and a cycle that needs to be broken.”

“So now, it’s about redefining masculinity, it’s about creating your own footprints for your children to follow in, so that you can make a positive change for the future,” he continued. “To me, the real testament of your strength isn’t physical, it’s what’s up here and what’s in here. Your strength is in your spirit, which for me means honoring and protecting my wife, and being a positive role model for my son.”

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Harry added, “I wanted to ensure that our first visit as a family, with my wife by my side, focused on the significant challenges facing millions of South Africans, while acknowledging the hope we feel so strongly here.”

In a fun twist, both Meghan and Prince Harry gave their speeches standing on the stump of a tree.

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry
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Meghan Markle and Prince Harry
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Theodora Lutuli, who helped host the couple in Nyanga and sat among the girls, — said that Meghan “was very touched” when she spoke to the young girls.

“She was touched in so many ways. For me the fact that she could relate and she actually said that ‘I can relate to your stories and I feel what you’ve actually been through.’ That was amazing for me. For that I will I will always respect and honor her.”

Meghan Markle
COURTNEY AFRICA/AFP/Getty

Jessica Dewhurst, who founded the award-winning human rights organization, Justice Desk, told reporters, “The Duchess said how proud she was of the girls and how amazing she thought they all were.

“Some of them spoke about how they used to fear growing up in Nyanga but now they have an outlet for their fears.

“When it came to her turn, the Duchess seemed very moved by what she has heard. She said, ‘I admire you all and your strength. If you stay strong and stay true to supporting each other as sisters, you can go and change the world.’

“It was incredible. The girls were inspired. She knew the important of being a mentor to the younger generation and was so in tune with what we are doing here.”

Meghan Markle
COURTNEY AFRICA/AFP/Getty

Meghan, 38, has embraced her own biracial heritage throughout her life — and Archie is the first biracial grandchild of the Queen.

The world got their first glimpse of Archie meeting his great-grandmother Queen Elizabeth shortly after his May 6 birth in a history-making photo that also included Meghan’s mother, Doria Ragland. The occasion marks the first time in royal history that a British monarch has been pictured alongside a royal baby’s Black grandmother.

“Like Harry and Meghan’s wedding, it changes the landscape in terms of bringing visibility around race and inclusion,” Tessy Ojo, chief executive of the Diana Award, told PEOPLE.

Prince Philip, Prince Harry, Queen Elizabeth, Doria Ragland, Archie and Meghan Markle
Chris Allerton/ ©️SussexRoyal

Tony winner and Pose star Billy Porter, who made history on Sunday night by becoming the first openly gay Black man to be nominated — and win — the Emmy for outstanding actor in a drama series, recently told PEOPLE he was channeling Meghan with his fashion.

“I’ve been doing my Meghan Markle all week with my little fascinator,” the actor said at the Christopher Kane show at London Fashion Week, adding: “I might keep wearing it when I get back to America!”

Billy Porter; Meghan Markle
Santiago Felipe/Getty; UK Press Pool/UK Press via Getty
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He continued with a laugh, “There’s a Black woman in the palace, honey, that’s all we need! We’re loving her over in America!”