Prince Harry & Meghan Begin 3-Day Private Tour To Nigeria In Inaugural Visit As Couple

Prince Harry & Meghan Begin 3-Day Private Tour To Nigeria In Inaugural Visit As Couple

The invitation to Nigeria came from Chief of Defense Staff Christopher Musa, Nigeria's highest-ranking military official.

ANIUpdated: Sunday, May 12, 2024, 12:11 PM IST
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Meghan Markle and Prince Harry | File pic

Abuja [Nigeria]: The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have touched down in Nigeria, embarking on a three-day private visit to the West African nation. Their itinerary includes meetings with wounded soldiers and visits to local charities, officials confirmed, CNN reported.

Air Vice-Marshal Abidemi Marquis, director of sports for the Nigerian Defence Headquarters, stated during a media briefing that the Sussexes' visit is significant as Nigeria is now part of the "Invictus community."
Their first engagement was hosted at a school in Abuja, Nigeria's capital, where Meghan expressed a heartfelt sentiment to the students, saying, "I see myself in all of you".

About - GEANCO Foundation

Outside the Lightway Academy, students eagerly awaited the royal couple's arrival, accompanied by a troupe of dancers. This event marked the commencement of a two-day mental health summit organized by the GEANCO Foundation, which focuses on providing menstrual health products and education to girls and young women across Nigeria, as reported by CNN.

Engagement With Nigerians

"We're so honored to be with you. We have got to acknowledge those amazing dance moves! My husband was excited to jump up!" Meghan exclaimed to the cheering students.

Prince Harry joined the conversation, engaging the children in a discussion about mental health and emphasising the importance of looking out for one another.

"Will you promise to us that after today, no more being scared, no more being unsure of mental health? If you are unsure, then ask. Ask your teachers. Ask your friends. Be there for one another," he urged the students. "If you see your friend in your class not smiling, what are you gonna do? You gonna check in with them? Are you gonna ask him if they're okay? 'Cause it's okay not to be okay."

As they bid farewell, the royal couple received a traditional wooden mask and a set of books about Nigerian heritage. "I need to read these now," added the duchess.

Formal Welcome Accorded

The invitation to Nigeria came from Chief of Defense Staff Christopher Musa, Nigeria's highest-ranking military official. He formally welcomed the Sussexes at a meeting held at the defence headquarters in Abuja.

Expressing gratitude to their hosts, Prince Harry commended Nigeria for recognizing the transformative power of sport in the rehabilitation process for injured or wounded individuals, according to CNN.

"You're not the first country to notice that it not only transforms lives but saves lives. I'm eternally grateful to you all of you for joining the Invictus movement for Nigeria and for every single soul who's been injured protecting the freedoms of Nigeria," he remarked.

Marquis highlighted Meghan's keenness to accompany her husband on the visit, citing her discovery in 2022 that she has Nigerian heritage, making this trip particularly meaningful for her. The announcement of the Sussexes' visit generated widespread excitement among the Nigerian public.

Oyeyemi Aderibigbe, a Lagos-based lawyer, expressed admiration for Prince Harry's authenticity and Meghan's advocacy efforts. Entrepreneur Ife Durosinmi-Etti conveyed her excitement about Meghan's Nigerian heritage, noting the resilience and determination commonly associated with Nigerian women.

Inaugural Visit Of The Sussexes

This marks the Sussexes' inaugural visit to Nigeria as a couple, during which they will heavily promote Invictus, as well as themes of mental health and female empowerment. Prince Harry's brief visit to London, where he attended events commemorating the 10th anniversary of the Invictus Games, preceded his arrival in Abuja. Meghan flew in from Los Angeles, and together, they have a packed schedule, including visits to military rehabilitation centers and organizations supporting veterans' welfare.

On Saturday, Prince Harry is set to join wounded veterans in a sitting volleyball game, while Meghan will co-host a women's leadership event with Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Director-General of the World Trade Organisation, as reported by CNN.

A Private Visit

As their visit is described as private, the royal couple will not meet with Nigeria's President, Bola Tinubu. However, they will meet with the governors of Lagos and Kaduna State. UK's High Commissioner to Nigeria, Richard Montgomery, clarified that the absence of a meeting with the Nigerian leader is because "they are visiting in a private capacity, not an official one."

Nigeria's military personnel face significant challenges, particularly in combating the Boko Haram insurgency. Musa briefed the couple on the issues, including terrorism and criminality, emphasizing the threat posed by improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

In response, Prince Harry expressed anticipation for visiting a hospital supporting military personnel in Kaduna, acknowledging Nigeria's commitment to the Invictus Games recovery program.

The Nigerian Defence Headquarters, the couple's hosts, are eager to further engage in the Invictus Games and the broader Invictus community. Marquis recalled Nigeria's participation in the most recent games and expressed aspirations to host the games in the future. He underscored the positive impact of the Invictus Games recovery program on Nigerian soldiers, noting significant improvements in self-esteem and mental health among participants.

Cpl Effiom Antigha, captain of Team Nigeria, previously highlighted the transformative effect of the games on his life, affirming that the Invictus Foundation has contributed to his physical and mental development, CNN reported.

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