The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have embarked on the second day of their post-royal tour in New York , visiting a school in Harlem to read Meghan’s children’s book.
Prince Harry and Meghan joined primary school children for an event to promote literacy at PS 123 Mahalia Jackson, named after an American gospel singer, where 94 per cent of the intake is from economically disadvantaged families. Less than a quarter currently reach proficient level or above for reading, according to US News.
Meghan, wearing a vivid red suit, read her children’s book The Bench to second grade pupils and was shown a mural painted by older students.
Prince Harry, who walked several paces behind his wife as they began the visit until she ushered him forward, sat cross-legged on the floor with the children to listen to the Duchess read.
The Duchess held up a copy of her book, reading the dedication “to the man and boy who make my heart go pump pump”. The book is based on a poem originally conceived as a Father’s Day present for Harry. She told children she had included a description of her protagonist’s heart going “pump pump” because that was how her son, Archie, referred to it.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have just left a public school in Harlem, New York. pic.twitter.com/phhmxDrda3
— Jamie Johnson (@JamieoJohnson) September 24, 2021
In a touching moment towards the end of the visit, the Duke bent down to console a young girl who was crying, giving her a hug.
One parent, who gave her name as Breonna, told The Telegraph: “We don’t get stuff like this. It’s so great that these kids get to see that there is more to life than just Harlem. It’s really inspiring.” A member of staff who met the Duke added: “The kids loved it. You could see how much it meant to them. They’ll remember this for the rest of their lives.”
As the Duke and Duchess left the school, children waved from a third-floor window, while a crowd of locals gathered outside. The couple spent an hour and 20 minutes there, with children given copies of the Duchess’s book afterwards.
On Thursday, the Sussexes visited the observatory at One World Trade Centre , viewed the 9/11 memorial, met the US ambassador to the UN and joined a roundtable meeting with the World Health Organisation to discuss “vaccine equity”.
Prince Harry was seen holding what appeared to be an evening meeting at the bar of The Carlyle hotel , where members of the Royal family have stayed on previous visits.
In a meeting at the WHO offices on Thursday, they joined Chelsea Clinton and experts on public health and the Covid pandemic to discuss “a number of critical global health priorities”, including the “vaccine access disparity between wealthy and developing nations”.
In a statement released afterwards, the Sussexes said: “In this room, we had a number of the foremost leaders on public health, pandemic preparedness, scientific progress and community building. Today’s meeting was a much-appreciated opportunity to learn from some of the most respected experts who are working tirelessly to end this pandemic.
“Building on ongoing conversations we’ve had with global leaders over the past 18 months, today further reinforced our commitment to vaccine equity.”
Earlier in the day, during a photocall at the One World Trade Centre, the Duchess said it was “wonderful to be back” in New York.
The visit is the couple’s first public appearance together since the birth of their daughter Lilibet in June , and their first major public trip after leaving the working Royal family to move to California.
They posed for the media alongside Bill de Blasio, the New York City mayor, and Kathy Hochul, the governor of New York State, on Thursday morning, before paying their respects at the 9/11 memorial plaza. They later met Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the US ambassador to the United Nations.
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