Highlights of Meghan and Harry’s First Royal Tour
Harry and Meghan certainly weren’t kidding when they said they were ready to jump in and get to work nearly a year ago. It’s already been a busy year for the royal duo and it’s going to get even busier. Details of the upcoming Royal Tour were revealed last week: the Duke and Duchess will be doing 76 events over sixteen days.
With the tour starting in just about a week, here are some highlights from the itinerary. (For our fully detailed schedule, click here.)
Tuesday, October 16th: Meghan and Harry start Day One of the tour at Admiralty House with Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove and Lady Cosgrove, where they will meet representatives of the 18 countries taking part in the Invictus Games. They then head to the Taronga Zoo to officially open the Taronga Institute of Science and Learning. While at the zoo they will also meet two koalas and their joeys, part of the Zoo’s breeding program, sure to generate some fun photos.
Thursday, October 18th: Day 3 of the tour brings Harry and Meghan to Melbourne where the couple will meet young leaders and the Ambassadors of This Girl Can, who will demonstrate sports.This Girl Can was initially developed by Sport England in 2015 to encourage and promote sporting activities among women. The endeavor is designed “to help women overcome the fear of judgment that is stopping too many women and girls from joining in.” The important thing is that women are getting up, moving and active.From This Girl Can, Australia:
This Girl Can – Victoria is an empowering campaign from VicHealth, based on Sport England’s highly successful This Girl Can campaign (which motivated a whopping 3.9 million women in England to take their fitness into their own hands). After seeing the impact there, the VicHealth team was inspired to get involved – and now, Australia is the first country in the world to license this powerful campaign.”
The “This girl can Victoria” ad campaign launched on national TV in February, with ads featuring stories of real Victorian women doing sports and exercise. Meet Sally from This Girl Can Australia:
Sally has always loved netball and she played regularly until she had kids. At 54, she still plays despite being told she’s “too old”. Before her first session back, she doubted herself so much she changed in and out of her exercise gear twice before finally stepping onto the court! Now Sally aims to keep playing netball the rest of her life.”
Kate Dale, a strategic lead of This Girl Can for Sport England had this to say about the program reception in Australia:
Sport England was surprised by how much the “This girl can” message resonated internationally. The organisation is looking to expand the campaign with more international partnerships beyond Australia.”
Friday, October 19th: The morning of Day 4 we’ll see the Duke and Duchess visit Australia’s iconic Bondi Beach, loved by surfers looking for the perfect wave. In the afternoon, Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Invictus Game Athletes watch Prince Harry climb Sydney’s famous Harbour Bridge, where he’ll officially raise the Invictus Flag.
Who knew you could actually climb the bridge?! If you are like me, I didn’t know this fact and thought it simply meant Harry was just going to “climb” some stairs, walk to the center of the bridge and hang the flag off of it, voila! Below you see Prince Harry when he climbed to the top in 2005.
Construction on the bridge began in July of 1923; it took more than eight years to build, opening in March 1932. It is the world’s largest steel arch bridge, needing roughly six million hand-driven rivets and 53000 tons of steel.
Bridge Climb Sydney leads groups to the top of the bridge.
From Bridge Climb Sydney:
We love the Bridge and have celebrated its key milestones with Bridge workers, descendants of chief engineer JJC Bradfield, and Sydneysiders alike.
In August Invictus Game athletes Alexia Vlahos, Emilea Mysko and Brendan Hardman joined other Invictus athletes and supporters for the Invictus Games Bridge Climb. Here you see the trio promoting that event before the climb, which was a fundraiser for the Sydney Games.
Here you see others who took part in that event.
More information on climbs can be found here.
Saturday, October 20th: Day 5 of the tour is all about the Invictus Games. We’ll see both Meghan and Harry behind the wheel as they take part in the Jaguar Land Rover Driving Challenge. Held on Cockatoo Island, the challenge involves driving through a slalom challenge course of ’Jaguar Smart Cones’ and other maneuvers. More on how it works from the Invictus 2017 site:
Each driver has a teammate and cameras to help navigate the course, while some vehicles are equipped with hand controls to enable competitors with physical disabilities to take part.
Below, Prince Harry with last year’s winning teams in Toronto.
That night it is time for a key part of the tour, the official opening ceremony of the Games.
Monday, October 22th: Harry and Meghan travel to Fraser Island on Day 7 of the tour. Fraser Island is located along the southeastern coast of the state of Queensland, Australia.
It is the largest sand island in the world.
As part of their welcome to the island, Meghan and Harry will take part in a Welcome to Country Smoking Ceremony as part of the dedication of the site to the Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy (QCC). More about the ceremony from Tribal Warrior:
A welcome to country is performed by an Aboriginal person who is from the area in which the welcome is performed. It is also a sign of respect for Elders past and present. It means being welcomed in a friendly manner to an area of land– it can also mean laying down arms and meeting in friendship -it is most often performed by a respected Elder of that community.
A sacred smoking ceremony has many purposes but often it is used as a welcome to a particular area and /or it may cleanse an area or person and shows a sign of respect for people past and present and also the passing over of elders – to rest the spirit. The leaves, bark and fungi from trees are the three sources -smoke for the smoking ceremony depending on the purpose of the ceremony.”
Below Prince William partaking in a smoking ceremony in January 2010.
Wednesday, October 24th: Day 9 is the couple’s first day in Fiji and the first time we’ll hear Meghan officially speak on the tour. After the Duke and Duchess watch a culture performance and meet students at the University of the South Pacific campus in Suva, the country’s capital, Harry will give a short speech in his role as Commonwealth Youth Ambassador. Following his remarks, we’ll hear from Meghan.
Harry then visits the Colo-i-Suva Forest Park, as Meghan heads to the British High Commissioner’s Residence for morning tea. While there, she’ll learn more about the UN Women’s Markets for Change project. She will then visit the Suva market and meet vendors empowered by the UN project. A brief overview of Markets for Change comes from the UN Fiji office:
Market vendors are predominantly women, and marketplaces offer important venues to effect women’s social and economic change.
The Markets for Change (M4C) Project in Fiji, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu is a six year initiative aimed at ensuring that marketplaces in rural and urban areas in Fiji, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu are safe, inclusive and non-discriminatory environments, promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment.”
This event engages some of Meghan’s background with UN organizations and programs, as well as her work with women.
Saturday, October 27th: On Day 12 of the tour the royals will watch final competition at the Games, wrapping up with the Closing Ceremony. We will hear both Harry and Meghan speak at the event.
Sunday, October 29th: Day 16 starts with a Royal New Zealand Air Force flight to Wellington, New Zealand. A traditional welcome at Government House, the residence of Governor General Dame Patsy Reddy, includes the Governor-General’s Kuia and Kaumātua (Māori elders). There will also be a haka performed by members of the New Zealand Defence Force. If you’ve not seen a haka, you’re in for a treat. More about the practice from the New Zealand website:
The haka is a type of ancient Māori war dance traditionally used on the battlefield, as well as when groups came together in peace. Haka are a fierce display of a tribe’s pride, strength and unity. Actions include violent foot-stamping, tongue protrusions and rhythmic body slapping to accompany a loud chant.
Here is a quick video of New Zealand’s national rugby team, the All Blacks, doing a haka before a match:
The couple will also be invited to take part in the traditional Māori greeting, a hongi, as Meghan was at the opening of the Royal Academy Oceania exhibition, seen below left. Below right, members of New Zealand’s Invictus team doing a haka at the 2017 games in Toronto.
Tuesday, October 30th: On Day 15 Meghan and Harry travel to Auckland. One of the most engaging parts of the tour will be when their time with children from the ‘Trees in Survival’ group, as they take part in a ‘welly-wanging’ contest. The competition involves throwing wellington boots (wellies); below you see Prince Harry doing just that as he joined William and Kate in a similar contest in October 2015.
Embed from Getty Images
On a more serious note, the Duke and Duchess will also spend time at the Auckland War Memorial Museum.
Wednesday, October 31st: As the tour wraps up on Day 16, we’ll see Meghan and Harry visit Rainbow Springs Nature Park where they’ll learn about the kiwi breeding program and have the chance to name two kiwi chicks. More from the Park’s Facebook page:
We’re extremely proud of the work that our National Kiwi Hatchery team and Kiwis for Kiwi do to preserve our national icon, so we’re thrilled to be able to share this with our special guests!”
This is just a quick overview of the tour. There are sure to be many more memorable highlights during the 16-day event!