Highlights of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s Visit to Nigeria

Highlights of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s Visit to Nigeria

In a landmark visit, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, arrived in Nigeria on May 10, 2024, for a three-day tour aimed at promoting mental health initiatives for veterans and young girls. The royal couple’s trip was a significant moment in the country’s history.

The royal couple’s first stop was Abuja, the capital city, where they attended a school event focused on mental health. Prince Harry, a former army captain who flew helicopters in Afghanistan, has long been an advocate for mental health awareness. He founded the Invictus Games 10 years ago to help wounded veterans recover through sports. In Abuja, he met with wounded Nigerian soldiers in the country’s northeast, where troops battle jihadists and criminal gangs. The prince also participated in a seated volleyball match with Nigerian veterans, including Peacemaker Azuegbulam, who became the first African to win gold at the Invictus Games in 2023.

On day three, the couple joined the Giants of Africa Foundation in Lagos for a basketball event, promoting sports as a tool for change and community building. Prince Harry emphasized, “The power of sports can change lives…it brings people together and creates community, and there are no barriers, which is the most important thing.” The event was run by Masai Ujiri, vice-president of an NBA team, and featured a lively exhibition match with local children.

During the visit, Meghan Markle revealed that a genealogy test showed she has 43% Nigerian ancestry, which she described as “humbling.” She warmly acknowledged Nigeria as “my country” and expressed excitement about learning more about her heritage. The Duchess shared her initial reaction to the discovery, saying, “The first thing I did was call my mom…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.”

The Duchess’s revelation sparked a heartwarming moment when the host, Mo Abudu, invited the audience to suggest a Nigerian name for Meghan. The crowd erupted with suggestions, including “Ifeoma” (meaning “a treasured thing” in Igbo) and “Omowale” (meaning “the child has come home” in Yoruba).

While in Lagos, Meghan Markle co-hosted a “Women in Leadership” event with Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, head of the World Trade Organization. The discussion focused on mentorship for young women and the challenges they face in pursuing leadership roles in Nigeria. Dr. Okonjo-Iweala emphasized, “I have very mixed feelings about being the first woman because I think women should have been there already.” The event brought together prominent Nigerian women leaders, including the Duchess, to share their experiences and inspire the next generation of female leaders.

The royal couple met with Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who praised Prince Harry’s experience in Nigeria, saying, “He has seen a lot and is still soaking in a whole lot.” The meeting marked a significant moment in UK-Nigeria relations, as the two nations continue to strengthen their bond through cultural exchanges and diplomatic efforts.

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