Harry and Meghan start 1st official tour as family in Africa

International

Britain’s Prince Harry and Meghan Duchess of Sussex, greet children on their arrival at the Nyanga Methodist Church in Cape Town, South Africa, Monday, Sept, 23, 2019, which houses a project where kids are taught about their rights, self-awareness and safety, and are provided self-defence classes and female empowerment training to young girls in the community. The royal couple are starting their first official tour as a family with their infant son, Archie (Courtney Africa / Africa News Agency via AP, Pool)

CAPE TOWN, South Africa (AP) — Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, began their first official tour as a family Monday with their infant son, Archie, in South Africa, with Meghan declaring to cheers that “I am here with you as a mother, as a wife, as a woman, as a woman of color and as your sister.”

The first day of their 10-day, multi-country tour started in Cape Town with visits to girls’ empowerment projects that teach rights and self-defense. Harry danced a bit as a musical welcome greeted them in the township of Nyanga, whose location was not made public in advance because of security concerns.

Violent crime is so deadly in parts of Cape Town that South Africa’s military has been deployed in the city, and its stay was extended last week. Frustration over high unemployment and lack of services also has exploded into protests and attacks on foreigners elsewhere in South Africa in recent weeks.

“As someone who has visited this amazing country many times, and as someone who regards Cape Town as a uniquely special place in Africa, 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 that we feel so strongly here,” the prince said.

The royal couple also was meeting Monday with former residents of District Six, a vibrant mixed-race community that was relocated from the inner city during South Africa’s harsh period of apartheid, or white minority rule, that ended in 1994.

Their visit also will focus on wildlife protection, entrepreneurship, mental health and mine clearance — a topic given global attention by Harry’s late mother, Princess Diana, when she walked through an active mine field during an Africa visit years ago.

Harry later this week will break away for visits to Botswana, Angola and Malawi.

The couple arrived in a South Africa still shaken by the rape and murder of a university student, carried out in a post office, that sparked protests by thousands of women tired of abuse and impunity in a country where more than 100 rapes are reported every day.

This is “one of the most unsafe places in the world to be a woman,” President Cyril Ramaphosa said last week, announcing new emergency measures and vowing to be tougher on perpetrators.

While the royal visit wasn’t causing the kind of excitement seen at times in other parts of the Commonwealth, some in South Africa said they were happy to see the arrival of Meghan, who has been vocal about women’s rights.

“We are encouraged to hear your president take the next steps to work towards preventing gender-based violence through education and necessary changes to reinforce the values of modern South Africa,” Meghan said.

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Anna reported from Johannesburg.

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