- Video report by ITV News Royal Editor Chris Ship
The Duchess of Sussex has made a virtual appearance to pay tribute to the “valuable and vital” work thousands of women are undertaking to support Malawi schoolgirls through their education.
Meghan praised the female advocates via a video conferencing link from Johannesburg, as Harry sat with the group in a college in Lilongwe, the capital of Malawi.
Harry introduced his wife and during the Skype call she joked about their four-month-old son, who has joined them on their 10-day tour of Africa saying – “Archie’s taking a nap".
Harry visited Nalikule College of Education to learn how schoolgirls are being helped by Cama, an alumni network of young women who received practical and financial support, from the Campaign for Female Education, to remain in school.
For the past 25 years, the project has been tackling poverty by paying for fees, uniforms, and school books to allow teenage girls to complete their education and not being married off by families who cannot afford to support them.
Before the duchess appeared, Harry told the women: “I know there’s somebody else you’d far rather hear from than me, hopefully if technology doesn’t fail us you may see somebody on the screen.”
Meghan was low down in the screen, and smiling said: “I’m so happy to be with you, is there a delay?” and Harry replied “no, it’s great keep going.”
The Queen’s Commonwealth Trust, which has the duke as its president and the duchess as vice-president, has been working with Cama since 2017.
The duchess went on to say: “We’re just so proud as president and vice-president of the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust that we can support you in everything that you do because we cannot begin to express how valuable and vital that work is, we’re just incredibly proud to be part of it.”
“I wish I could be with you, we’re in South Africa right now Archie’s taking a nap. I’m with you in spirit.”
When a smiling Meghan first appeared on the screen, she waved with both hands and the female advocates began chanting and singing and she swayed in time to the performance and clapped her hands.
The duchess said she had been listening to the testimonies of some of the young women from Cama who act as mentors to the next generation of girls, working to tackle issues like child brides, and change opinions in communities about the benefits of educating young women.
Hosting the event was Angeline Murimirwa, the Campaign for Female Education’s (Camfed) executive director Africa, who met the duchess on International Women’s Day last year.
Meghan said: “Ange when we first met it was almost a year and half ago, I was so struck by everything you do with Cama and obviously the impact it has on so many young women and girls…”
At moments the Cama advocates sang positive messages in their native language and danced in their seats and Harry and Meghan both joined in.
Camfed has received support from the Department for International Development which since 2011 has provided bursaries for more than 35,000 girls to attend secondary schools.
Harry told the female advocates: “Now the British Government is expanding the work of Cama in Malawi, through training over 900 Cama members to become leaner guides as well.
“These young leaders will go back into rural schools and support over 66,000 girls in their learning and confidence so they succeed in their education, graduate in school and help take Malawi forward.”
After the royal visit, Ange Murimirwa, said: “It was amazing to have the both of them in the room physically and virtually – it was incredible.
“We’ve been able to have our cause championed and our cause championed and the fact that he’s here amplifying our voices and the fact that she could virtually with us means a lot.”