Prince Harry & Meghan 'treated us like royalty', say Capetonians

Cape Town opened its heart to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, who returned the favour

29 September 2019 - 00:13 By PHILANI NOMBEMBE
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex with a minstrel troupe in the Bo-Kaap on September 24 during their visit to Cape Town as part of their 10-day Southern African tour with their infant son, Archie.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex with a minstrel troupe in the Bo-Kaap on September 24 during their visit to Cape Town as part of their 10-day Southern African tour with their infant son, Archie.
Image: Gallo Images/Brenton Geach

A duke and duchess visited Cape Town this week, but the ordinary people who met them were the ones who ended up feeling like royalty.

"My God, she is the most humble person I have ever met," said Limpho Nteko of mothers2mothers after meeting the Duchess of Sussex at the NGO's Cape Town office.

"They treated us as if we are also royal," said Nyanga créche manager Theodora Lutuli.

"They were just happy to visit a home, meet the people and sit around a table having a conversation," said pensioner Shaamiela Samodien, who hosted Prince Harry and the former Meghan Markle at her home in the Bo-Kaap.

The couple's three days in Cape Town, at the start of a 10-day visit to Southern Africa that ends when they visit President Cyril Ramaphosa in Pretoria on Wednesday, began in Nyanga on the Cape Flats.

The township is notorious as the most murderous community in the country, but Harry and Meghan were there to visit a workshop for young women run by the Justice Desk, a nonprofit organisation that teaches children about their rights, self-awareness and safety.

"Seeing the couple stepping out of their vehicles in Nyanga and approaching our site was really touching and out of this world," said Lutuli, whose crèche operates at Nyanga Methodist Church.

"And to discover that they are such sweet and down-to-earth people, how they engaged with the community and children, is something that I will never forget.

"We spoke about the role of women in the community and how women are taking a stand against social ills and the impact they are making.

"The children will never forget that experience, although to some of the kids they looked like any other white person who has walked through our gates."

Meghan told the community: "May I just say that while I am here with my husband as a member of the royal family, I want you to know that I am here as a mother, as a wife, as a woman of colour and as your sister. I am with you and I am here for you."

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle get a warm welcome at the Justice Desk in Nyanga, which is supported by the Queen's Commonwealth Trust.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle get a warm welcome at the Justice Desk in Nyanga, which is supported by the Queen's Commonwealth Trust.
Image: Esa Alexander

On Tuesday, after visiting Auwal Mosque in the Bo-Kaap, the royal couple had tea at Samodien's home. "I don't think they had any expectations," she said.

"The prince said he was very thirsty and he wanted a glass of water because it was very hot outside.

"I made koesisters, a traditional Cape Malay delicacy [a coconut-dusted variation on the Afrikaans koeksister], and milk tarts.

"I also had some apple crumble and I had coconut tarts and jam tarts. I served them rooibos tea and they enjoyed it," said Samodien.

Nteko, the Lesotho manager for mothers2mothers, which employs women living with HIV and offers health services in townships in eight African countries, said meeting the duchess was "the best and beautiful experience".

"For her to take interest in what we do, and listen to all our stories, is very special. She sat on the floor and played with the kids. She was so comfortable with everyone."

Meghan Markle visits the mothers2mothers office in Cape Town.
Meghan Markle visits the mothers2mothers office in Cape Town.
Image: Esa Alexander

When Harry and Meghan visited Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu with their baby son, Archie, they were served sweet treats from nearby Charly's Bakery, where co-owner Alexandra Biess-Murphy said they were asked to incorporate a colour theme, a proudly SA theme and gender issues.

"We did big cookies for each one of them and the baby with their names on," said Biess-Murphy.

White River jewellery designer Nina Bosch was over the moon after the duchess wore a pair of her earrings.

The 27-year-old said Meghan was the first high-profile person to buy her work as far as she knows.

"I didn't even know she was going to wear them," said Bosch.

"I sell them all over the world but I think someone bought them for her at my shop at the [V&A] Waterfront. They are made out of porcelain and they are folded by hand and then I glaze them. They are hand-painted with an 18-carat gold lustre.

"I make all my pieces myself. They cost R400. I think I should make them R400,000 now."


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