Duchess Meghan makes surprise stop in Johannesburg to support local artists and designers

Meghan Markle at Victoria Yards (Photo: James Delaney)
Meghan Markle at Victoria Yards (Photo: James Delaney)

Cape Town - The Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle, made a pre-tour stop at creative space Victoria Yards in Johannesburg on Monday.

Victoria Yards in Lorentzville is described as an urban village-environment for crafters and artists to work, collaborate and exhibit.  

The official Johannesburg leg of the royal tour kicks off on Tuesday and will end with a meeting with President Cyril Ramaphosa in Pretoria on Wednesday.

Speaking to Channel24 about his once-in-a-lifetime meeting with the duchess, artist James Delaney, said: "We were told in the morning to expect a very important guest later in the day, and that the complex would be shut down from 13:00."

Although they weren't told precisely who their very special guest would be, James said that the tenants quickly figured it out, as it was already known that "Meghan was in town."

Meghan arrived at about 14:00, and the artists and designers displayed their work for Meghan. Only the tenants and those working on the grounds were allowed to stay on the premises. 

James describes the duchess as "polite, friendly and informal. He says: "We had a friendly chat. I introduced myself as James, and she said: 'Hi, I'm Meghan'." 

The pair talked about his work, local artists and the close-knit community at Victoria Yards. "She was there for about an hour and would chat to everyone who came up to her," he said. 

The artist, who called the experience a "whirlwind," said: "It was lovely to meet her." 

Meghan got a pair of jeans from a local designer, who declined to comment on his meeting with the duchess.


View this post on Instagram

While in Johannesburg today, The Duchess of Sussex visited Victoria Yards, which celebrates the power of community, bringing local artisans and “makers” together to rebuild, support and learn from each other on a holistic level. It was an exceptional afternoon where The Duchess had the chance to connect with the children and founders of the phenomenal programme for kids’ development Timbuktu in The Valley. She was also struck by the local denim designer who founded eponymous brand Tshepo who shared this info about the logo for his line: “The crown on my jeans represents the three ladies who raised me. Enjoy wearing this crown.” Such a beautiful and touching sentiment! Artists, artisans, sculptors, metal workers and carpenters are all part of the fabric of Victoria Yards, but it also utilizes the power of The DICE programme which supports several other local organisations in their work with marginalised youth and women. These include: 94 Colours (run by The Duchess’ guides for the day, Hector and Sibusiso), CDP (a development programme for young unemployed and marginalised women that provides training to start creative enterprises), Enke (rebuilds the confidence and self-belief of unemployed youth through training and practical experience), 26’10 South (an architecture firm designing a local youth centre) and ReimagiNation (works with local secondary school students to create a social and creative enterprising mindset). Stay tuned for more updates from this special afternoon... #RoyalVisitSouthAfrica

A post shared by The Duke and Duchess of Sussex (@sussexroyal) on

View this post on Instagram

While at Victoria Yards in Johannesburg this afternoon, The Duchess of Sussex had the opportunity to learn more about the importance of, and how to enable a ‘wellbeing economy’ thanks to Co-Director of the Maker’s Valley Partnership, Simon Sizwe. Simon was awarded a full scholarship to attend the Young African Leaders Initiative programme initiated by President Obama, and he explained that by investing in the overall well-being of a community and its people, and focusing on that economy, you can enrich everyone for a better quality of life. She also met with the owners of Sobae Frozen, an entrepreneurial duo who created their small business as a solution to food waste, creating vegan sorbet from unused fruit from Victoria Yards. At the end of her visit, The Duchess was moved by the original poetry of Belita Andre, the winner of the Poetry Grandslam. In her reading she said: “The Maker’s Valley is a social and enterprise hub, a wave between my corner of the world and yours. Insisting that beyond the anchors of survival. How to make sure that everyone gets to shore, pass around an ocean of stars, not because our sleepless nights are equal but because our dreams are.” • #RoyalVisitSouthAfrica

A post shared by The Duke and Duchess of Sussex (@sussexroyal) on

ALSO READ: From Cape Town to Botswana, Angola and Malawi -- The Duke and Duchess of Sussex had an inspiring few days on the second leg of their royal tour

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24