Prince Harry, Meghan Met With Warm Welcome During Three-Day Nigeria Tour 

Prince Harry, Meghan Met With Warm Welcome During Three-Day Nigeria Tour 

Amid a flurry of excitement and anticipation, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Prince Harry and Meghan, embarked on a journey of philanthropy and goodwill as they arrived in Nigeria for a three-day visit. Their arrival on May 10, 2024, marked the beginning of a series of engagements aimed at promoting social causes and fostering cultural exchange.

During a whirlwind tour of Nigeria, the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle, embraced her Nigerian heritage with open arms, reflecting on her ancestral roots and engaging with local communities during the couple’s inaugural visit to the West African nation.

On the second day of their visit, Meghan expressed gratitude for the warm reception and the significance of her newfound connection to the region.

Speaking at an event on women in leadership, co-hosted by Nigerian economist and World Trade Organisation Director General, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Meghan reflected on her journey of self-discovery, noting the humbling experience of uncovering her Nigerian heritage through a genealogy test. She acknowledged Nigeria as “my country”.

“It’s been eye-opening to be able to know more about my heritage,” remarked Meghan, visibly moved by the revelation. Her first reaction after finding out was to tell her mother, she said at the event in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja. 

“Being African American, part of it is really not knowing so much about your lineage and background and it was exciting for both of us,” she said. She went on to share the sentiments echoed by many upon learning of her Nigerian ancestry, emphasising the qualities of bravery, resilience, and beauty attributed to Nigerian women. Meghan’s revelation, made public during a podcast in 2022, sparked excitement among the Nigerian audience.

During the event, Mo Abudu, anchor, and CEO of EbonyLife media group, invited the audience to suggest Nigerian names for Meghan, symbolising her integration into Nigerian culture. Someone shouted “Ifeoma”, a name from Nigeria’s Igbo tribe which means “a treasured thing”. “Omowale” another suggested, from the Yoruba tribe, which means “the child has come home”, embodying the warmth and hospitality extended to the Duchess.

The visit also included a poignant moment of solidarity as Prince Harry and Meghan witnessed a sitting volleyball game between Harry’s Invictus Games team and the Nigerian military. The event showcased soldiers recovering from injuries sustained in Nigeria’s ongoing conflict against extremist groups, highlighting the resilience and determination of the human spirit.

After the match held at the Nigerian Armed Forces’ Mess in Abuja, Harry and Meghan were surrounded by players, their families and a group of women who gifted Meghan a Nigerian fabric symbolising the enduring friendship between the royal couple and the Nigerian people.

“We are friends and family supporters of Harry and Meghan,” said Peace Adetoro, 57, a member of the group. “They are a beautiful couple and we love them so much. We support them 100%.”

Following the games, the couple flew from Abuja to Lagos on May 12, 2024, aboard an Air Peace charter flight. The royal couple and their entourage were greeted with enthusiasm upon their arrival at the Murtala Muhammed Airport around 09:00hrs. Welcoming them were top-tier military officials, distinguished government functionaries, and Dr. Allen Onyema, Chairman of Air Peace, underscoring the significance of their visit.

A vibrant cultural display, featuring a dance troupe, added to the festive atmosphere at the Presidential Wing of the airport, as the Duke and Duchess embraced the warmth of Nigerian hospitality. Their decision to fly Air Peace, aboard one of the airline’s brand new state-of-the-art Embraer 195-E2 aircraft, highlighted their support for local initiatives and commitment to sustainable travel.

The royal couple’s itinerary in Lagos included a notable engagement at the Duke and Duchess Polo charity event, held on the same day of their arrival. The program, meticulously planned to showcase the best of Nigerian hospitality and talent, featured a series of captivating events aimed at raising awareness and funds for charitable causes.

In a celebration of sport, philanthropy, and community, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex hosted a dazzling charity polo event at the Lagos Polo Club, marking a grand occasion on the social calendar. The event brought together a diverse array of guests for a day filled with excitement, camaraderie, and charitable endeavors.

The festivities commenced with the arrival of esteemed guests, who walked the red carpet amid an atmosphere of anticipation and elegance. The highlight of the afternoon was the breathtaking horse parade, showcasing the exceptional talent of young players and their magnificent equine companions.

Amidst cheers and applause, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex arrived at the venue, warmly welcomed by the President of the Lagos Polo Club and a selected committee. Their presence added a touch of regal splendor to the proceedings, setting the stage for a memorable event.

The program unfolded with the presentation of medals to 18 children, symbolising the spirit of achievement and dedication. Meanwhile, a silent auction captivated guests, offering opportunities to support worthy causes while enjoying the festivities. Stage group photos immortalised the momentous occasion, capturing smiles and camaraderie.

Engaging in a short meet and greet session, the Duke and Duchess interacted with attendees before transitioning to the marquee for the trophy presentation.

Joined by the President of the Polo Club, they honored the triumphs of the day, applauding the skill and sportsmanship displayed on the polo ground.

The event continued with a VIP introduction, featuring remarks from distinguished guests, including the Chief of Defence Staff and prominent figures from Nigeria Unconquered and the Nola Foundation. Speeches underscored the importance of philanthropy and community engagement, highlighting the positive impact of charitable initiatives.

Live entertainment took center stage, with a wonderful performance by Nigerian artist Chike of his song “Soldier” and cultural performers adding to the festive atmosphere. As the evening progressed, the Duke and Duchess departed the marquee, pausing briefly to admire the graceful movements of dancers bidding them farewell.

Gift presentations and refreshments provided a fitting conclusion to an unforgettable day, as guests mingled and reflected on the significance of the event. With hearts full of gratitude and admiration, attendees bid farewell to the Duke and Duchess as they departed, leaving behind cherished memories and a legacy of generosity and goodwill.

Melissa Enoch

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