Inside Harry and Meghan’s Aussie love story
On her royal tour debut the elegant, gentle Duchess of Sussex touched down with a wonderful surprise and left having revolutionised the monarchy. Juliet Rieden gives the inside story on Meghan and Harry’s dramatic group hug.
From the moment they arrived, it was clear this royal visit was going to break new ground. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex had hoped to slip into Sydney quietly a day before of cial proceedings and chill out at Admiralty House, the Governor-General’s home he and his wife had kindly turned over to Harry and Meghan for the tour. Instead, the couple was greeted with a posse of TV cameras, reporters and long lenses focussed on incoming planes.
Meghan appeared, curiously holding folders of paperwork in front of her stomach, and immediately a baby bump frenzy swept through social media. It’s possible the royal couple hoped to wait a little longer to share their happy news, but the only way to focus the tour back on the Invictus Games and the important initiatives the Sussexes had assiduously hand-picked, was to let the world in on their secret.
I was in the royal rota media brie ng when Kensington Palace surprised everyone with the couple’s statement. “Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are very pleased to announce that The Duchess of Sussex is expecting a baby in the [UK] Spring of 2019.” What!
From this moment on the tour took ight, spiralling into a stratosphere of fevered popularity as Meghan and Harry, hand in hand, gazing into each other’s eyes, lovestruck parents-to-be, took Australia by storm – often with a side order of thunder …
Prince Harry has always been popular over here. His laid-back naturalness, passion and sense of humour make him seem like one of us, as 12-year-old Felix in Melbourne told me after chatting to the royal on a tram journey: “If I didn’t already
know he was a prince, I would think he was a top Aussie bloke, down-to-earth and normal.”
And now our larrikin People’s Prince was to be the dad we all knew he longed to be, and over the next week Australia reached a fever pitch of excitement, with crowds turning out in the sort of numbers we last saw back in the 1980s when Harry’s mum, Diana, Princess of Wales, won our hearts. In Dubbo there were 10,000 at the public picnic and although they were soaked by sheeting rain, their joy at having Harry and Meghan in their midst was palpable.
But as I followed the royal lovebirds around Australia, it was clear this extraordinary reaction wasn’t just about Harry; there was something else going on.
Meghan, the former Suits actress, with her soft American accent, touchy-feely warmth, unquestioning belief women can and should do anything they want to do and biracial background, was rewriting the royal rulebook and inspiring a new group of young people.
Sabrim Nayawela is a netballer and one of the women from VicHealth’s This Girl Can sporting initiative who put on a display for the Duchess in Melbourne. She came to Australia from South Sudan at the age of ve and has struggled to overcome barriers – “people judge me without even knowing me,” she explained. For Sabrim, having a biracial American in the royal family was kind of incredible. “Meghan has the opportunity to have an impact on women’s lives. It’s fantastic to see some sort of representation in a position of power. She’s a multicultural role model for me.”
Sabrim wasn’t alone. In Dubbo, 17-year-old Tiarnie McBride was bubbling over with a sense of belonging, after talking to Meghan at her school. “For us as Aboriginal girls, her being of a different race and being a royal shows us anyone can be accepted.”
With the new Duchess of Sussex a revolution is happening. It’s no wonder
Prince Harry looks so proud.
Above: The royal couple delighted everyone with their baby news. Right: GovernorGeneral Sir Peter Cosgrove hosted the Sussexes at Admiralty House and presented baby gifts. Below: Meeting war widow Daphne Dunne at the Opera House.