OPINION | Confessions from the royal tour frontline

Duke and Duchess of Sussex with their son Archie (Photo: Getty/Gallo Images)
Duke and Duchess of Sussex with their son Archie (Photo: Getty/Gallo Images)

Nici de Wet is YOU’s senior journalist who reported from the ground during the Cape Town leg of their Royal Highnesses Africa tour – and this is her take on the experience.

It’s over – the very first leg of the Sussexes very first tour of SA – and after 72 hours of chasing after the royal couple, photographing them and writing about them, I can pretty much say I have a newfound respect for these two because well, for starters, a royal tour takes some serious stamina.

How many of us could come off a 12-hour flight from London (having just attended a glitzy wedding in Rome too!) with a four-month baby in tow, and then proceed to your first of three official engagements of the day looking like a million bucks and with a grace and warmth I’ve haven’t seen in a person – famous or not – in like forever.

The woman labelled Duchess Difficult in the UK was nowhere to be seen. Instead I saw a genuinely empathetic and kind-hearted woman determined to use her privileged position to help those in need – which in this case was kids in one of the most unsafe townships in our country.

An act, some may argue – she’s a Hollywood actress after all, and this is just a PR exercise to help repair her diva-like reputation. Well, I don’t think so. 

Kids are the best judges of characters and the ones I saw interact with her came away walking on air, their faces aglow. “She’s a darling,” gushed one, expressing a sentiment shared by many others. “She filled my day with love,” said another while a little boy looking starry-eyed could only stutter, “She’s so beautiful.”

Which brings me to my next point; how does she look in real life? Let’s put it this way, when she enters a room, pretty much everyone falls under the Meghan Effect. She’s stunning – in fact, if resting bitch face is a thing, she has resting beautiful face: flawless skin, a smile that draws you in and eyes that dance.

Of course, the pièce de résistance of the entire Cape Town visit was when Meghan and Harry finally decided to show Archie off, which they did with their meeting with Archbishop Tutu. “Archie meets The Arch” screamed all the headlines and yes, it did seem like the perfect PR exercise. But does it really matter at the end of the day if it was? Because really all anyone wanted to see was the little boy and Archie – bless him – rose to the occasion, grinning and giggling in his mom’s arms as his dad looked on dotingly.

So in conclusion, I guess what I’m saying is that I think I really like Meghan. Okay, there I said it – I never thought I would after writing so many stories about her rubbing people up the wrong way and acting more like a Hollywood A-lister than a dutiful royal. But yup, it seems even this jaded journo may have fallen victim to the Meghan Effect. Guess I kinda know how Harry feels now.



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