MEGHAN Markle has given a passionate speech about women’s suffrage at a reception on the royal couple’s first night in New Zealand.
The reception, also attended by the Duchess of Sussex’s husband Prince Harry and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, was hosted by the Governor-General, Patsy Reddy, to mark the 125th anniversary of women’s suffrage.
Meghan wore a black US$2495 (A$3517) Gabriela Hearst gown – which had reportedly been modified to show less skin, with capped sleeves replacing the original spaghetti straps – and black sandals.
She received a cheer from the other guests after beginning her speech (the third of her tour so far) with the formal Maori greeting “tēnā koutou katoa.”
New Zealand was the first country in the world to give women the vote, a fact which Meghan told attendees made them “universally admired.”
“Suffrage is not simply about the right to vote but also about what that represents: the basic and fundamental human right of being able to participate in the choices for your future and that of your community; the involvement and voice that allows you to be a part of the very world that you are a part of,” she said.
“And women’s suffrage is not simply about the right to vote for women, but also about what that represents: the basic and fundamental human right of all people including those members of society who have been marginalised whether for reasons of race, gender, ethnicity or orientation to be able to participate in the choices for their future and their community.
“So bravo New Zealand, for championing this right a hundred and twenty-five years ago for the women who well deserve to have an active voice and acknowledged vote and for all the people that this effort has paved the way for globally, we all deeply thank you.
“In the words of your suffragette, Kate Sheppard, ‘all that separates, whether of race, class, creed or sex, is inhuman and must be overcome’.”
DUKE AND DUCHESS OF SUSSEX IN EVACUATION SCARE
It was an eventful start to the royals’ stay at Government House in Wellington, with the building evacuated this afternoon after the fire alarm sounded.
There were no reports of any injuries – and according to Nine, the alarm may actually have been triggered by a kitchen appliance.
FAN’S PRICELESS REACTION TO MEETING MEGHAN
It can be hard keeping your cool in front of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.
Just ask this young woman, who was snapped in the midst of a true fangirl moment in front of the Duchess of Sussex during a public walkabout in Wellington.
The young woman came face-to-face with the pregnant royal at Memorial Park, where thousands had gathered to greet the couple on their first afternoon in New Zealand.
And her reaction to the encounter was priceless.
This afternoon’s meet-and-greet was the first opportunity for members of the public in New Zealand to mingle with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.
According to reporter Omid Scobie, the wildly popular couple threw the usual royal protocol out the window when meeting 10-year-old friends Sophie Hubbard and Hope Watson.
HARRY AND MEGHAN KICK OFF NZ TOUR
Earlier today, the Duke and Duchess touched down in Wellington, New Zealand with both Harry and Meghan making a quick dress change during their three-hour flight from Sydney.
The couple arrived just after 3pm local time and were greeted on the tarmac by a handful of dignitaries including New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex flew from Sydney on a Royal New Zealand Air force plane with the country’s Invictus team a day after Harry and Meghan spoke at the closing ceremony in Sydney.
Meghan changed out of her burgundy Hugo Boss gown into an ASOS maternity dress and a brown Karen Walker trench coat while Harry swapped his grey suit for a blue one.
Meghan’s black dress, which also comes in non-maternity styles, retails for $70 on the clothing website.
She also re-wore her Sarah Flint pumps, a staple from the royal tour.
The royal couple will spend three full days in New Zealand.
Harry and Meghan will tread a well beaten path by royal family members, visiting Wellington, Auckland and Rotorua, which is known for its thermal springs.
The Duke and Duchess will leave New Zealand on Thursday and are expected to fly home to the UK to await the birth of their baby.
Windy Wellington lived up to its reputation with Meghan appearing to struggle with her dress as the couple walked down the plane’s stairs holding hands.
It’s believed the couple spent much of the three hour flight chatting to the Kiwi Invictus team.
After landing in Wellington, the royal couple were taken to Government House where they received a Ceremony of Welcome which included a haka.
The Duke and Duchess received the traditional hongi welcome from Governor-generals Kuia and Kaumatua.
This afternoon, Prince Harry and Meghan laid a wreath on the tomb of the Unknown Warrior at the Pukeahu National War Memorial, where the Duke was honoured by the Royal New Zealand Returned and Services’ Association.
HARRY AND MEGHAN FAREWELL AUSTRALIA
The couple flew out of Sydney Airport just after 10am Sunday with strong winds whipping up Meghan’s hair.
The royal couple said goodbye to a number of Australian dignitaries before the prince gave everyone a thumbs up.
The royal couple then climbed the stairs holding hands with Meghan giving a slight wave as she tried to hold down her hair in the strong breeze.
Meghan wore a lengthy, burgundy Hugo Boss dress to board the New Zealand plane and showed off the same pair of suede pumps and nude saddle bag from last night’s Invictus Games Closing Ceremony.
The loose-fitting Hugo Boss dress, which retails for $A450, appeared to almost completely conceal Meghan’s burgeoning baby bump.
Meghan wore her staple pair of peach suede pumps from the brand Aquazzura, which retail for $A911.
The mini chain saddle bag held by Meghan was from the brand Cuyana, retailing for around $A315.
Immediately after the royal couple’s final wave to their Aussie fans, the door of the NZ Air force 757 closed and after a quick taxi down the runway, the plane took off.
The New Zealand athletes boarded the plane just after 9am while Harry and Meghan’s motorcade made its way to the airport.
Teams of police with sniffer dogs were seen carrying out security sweeps on the fringes of Sydney airport.
Aides were spotted earlier this morning carrying a copy of The Sunday Telegraph onto the royals’ plane.
Neither the NSW Premier nor the Prime Minister was there to farewell Harry and Meghan, but they were represented respectively by state housing minister Anthony Roberts and Federal MP Julian Leeser.
Colonel Michael Miller will say goodbye to the Duke and Duchess on behalf of the NSW governor, David Hurley.
With her visibly blooming royal bump, the Duchess of Sussex has managed to keep up with most of the 60 or more engagements on a hectic visit, greeted by enthusiastic crowds from the bush to the Pacific Islands.
The royal couple attended the Invictus Games closing ceremony last night where Meghan stole the show with a “very personal” speech to the 12,000-strong crowd.
The beaming Duchess Of Sussex smiled and took to the stage with an easy confidence as she addressed the crowd at Qudos Bank Arena — her only speech in Australia while on the royal tour.
“It has been such an honour being here, supporting you and supporting my husband at the Invictus Games which he started four years ago,” she said to cheers.
The 37-year-old mum-to-be spoke passionately about the “camaraderie and close-knit sense of community” of the Games, before opening up to the crowd.
“On a very personal note I want to thank you all for welcoming me into the Invictus family,” she said.
“I’m not sure if many of you know this but a few years ago, before I met my husband, I had the incredible honour of meeting troops deployed all over the world from the UK, Afghanistan and several other countries.
READ MORE: MEGHAN AND HARRY’S CLOSING CEREMONY SPEECHES IN FULL
“In travelling to these military bases, I was given a very special glimpse into the lives of those who serve our countries. I was able to see the unshakeable bond between servicemen and women on the ground together, but at the same time to feel the palpable longing for family and friends while deployed. Once home, the need for that anchor of support from loved ones, especially given how much it accelerates recovery and rehabilitation is immeasurable. I’ve been reminded of those memories here.”