Back in March, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle abruptly moved to California with their son Archie, leaving behind the Vancouver Island mansion where they had passed the previous winter. In the months that followed, the couple have been seen out in public a few times, usually for volunteer events. In a conversation with education activist Malala Yousafzai this weekend, they spoke a bit about what it was like for them to shift gears due to the global pandemic.
Though they’ve spent more time at home, Harry said the pandemic is keeping them busy. “There are a lot of special moments, but at the same time, we’ve been working really, really hard, because we understand how challenging this has been for absolutely everyone,” he said. “The longer it goes on for the more it’s going to be felt, especially from a mental health aspect.”
From the couch in their Montecito home, Meghan and Harry said that they were spending time on Zoom and with their son. “We were both there for his first steps,” Harry said. “His first run, his first fall, his first everything.”
“It’s been a lot of really good family time,” Meghan added. “We are lucky to have the opportunity to watch him grow. In the absence of COVID, we would be traveling and working more externally, and we’d miss a lot of those moments.”
Meghan and Harry spoke to Yousafzai on her YouTube channel to mark the International Day of the Girl, the United Nations’ annual day to honor activism for and by young girls. After congratulating Yousafzai on her recent graduation from Oxford, the couple spoke about their passion for promoting girls’ education, and how it fit in with some of the other issues they care about, like mental health, period poverty, and climate change.
When Malala asked the couple what they valued about their own education, Meghan, an alum of Northwestern, said she appreciated going to university. Harry mentioned that he took his education for granted when he was younger. “I’m very grateful for the education I was lucky to have,” he said. “At the time I certainly, probably, wasn’t as grateful. But looking back on it now i’m very blessed to have had the opportunity.”
They also spoke about the impact the pandemic was having on girls’ access to education around the world. Harry mentioned that 130 million girls were already not being schooled before the pandemic. “The numbers are only going to go up,” he added. “It worries me—it probably worries all of us, the effect that is going to have, not just on the individual, but on the family, the community, the country, and the world at large.”
When Malala asked Meghan why she was passionate about the issue, she put her support in terms of the broader effects of giving access to the public sphere. “It’s something that is so important and so critical to be addressed,” she said. “By fixing that one problem, you end up fixing multiple problems. I realized early on that when women have a seat at the table the conversations—in terms of policy change, in terms of legislation and the dynamics of the community—are all shifted.”
Harry and Yousafzai first met at a We Day conference in London back in March 2014, a few months before she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her activism and bravery after she was attacked by the Taliban for seeking an education. She was excited to hear about how Archie was doing and had a few kind words for Harry’s wife as well. “You’re blessed that you have such a great companion in Meghan,” she said.
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