Prince Harry and pregnant wife Meghan visited the New Zealand resort town of Rotorua Wednesday to wrap up a lengthy Pacific tour which has confirmed the star appeal of Britain's newest royal.
Meghan, displaying what Harry affectionately refers to as "our little bump", has drawn adoring crowds in Australia, Fiji, Tonga and New Zealand on her first international tour since the couple married in May.
The American-born former actress and her husband attended 76 engagements over 16 days in the former British colonies, with Meghan sometimes changing designer outfits four times in a single day.
While they observed the inevitable formalities with prime ministers and other dignitaries, members of the public who met the touring royals said they came across as down-to-earth and personable.
Meghan did not stand on ceremony, happily participating in a "welly-wanging" (gumboot throwing) competition, halting their royal entourage several times to give shy toddlers a cuddle and bringing her home-made banana bread to afternoon tea in outback Dubbo.
"They were very nice, chatty and relaxed," was a typical assessment, offered by teenager Milan Chapman after she met them in New Zealand's South Island.
The tour opened with the bombshell announcement that meghan was expecting the couple's first baby early next year, sparking fears she would be vulnerable to Zika virus in Fiji and Tonga.
But the World Health Organization reported there had been no cases this year on the islands of the mosquito-borne virus, which can cause deformities in unborn babies, and the leg of the trip went ahead unchanged.
Meghan proved so popular in Fiji that her minders whisked her away from an engagement at a Suva market, fearing it was becoming overcrowded.
Fashion and feminism
The 37-year-old's wardrobe largely consisted of local designers and she won plaudits in Tonga when she arrived in a bright red dress, the colour of the national flag.
But Meghan, who became Duchess of Sussex when she married Harry, showed she was more than a clothes horse, giving several speeches expressing her support for female empowerment.
She spoke in Fiji about her own struggles to afford university in the United States, arguing the case for open education.
"When girls are given the right tools to succeed they can create incredible futures, not only for themselves, but for all of those around them," she said.
In Wellington, her message was "feminism is about fairness" and human rights for all "including members of society who have been marginalised - whether for reasons of race, gender, ethnicity, or orientation".
Harry also used the tour to promote his favoured causes - mental health and the Invictus Games, the Olympics-style sporting event for wounded soldiers he helped found in 2014.
At the Games' closing ceremony in Sydney last Saturday, Harry spoke of the need to talk openly about anxiety, stress and depression, revealing his own struggles.
"I've been there, you've been there, and we now need to reach out to those who can never even imagine themselves in that place," he said.
The mood on the tour's final day was upbeat as Harry and meghan wore traditional Maori cloaks and received a spectacular welcome from the local Te Arawa tribe.
Tribal spokesman Toby Curtis singled out meghan, who has a mixed race background, as an inspiration for young Maori, saying she brought "a fresh perspective and diversity" to the monarchy.
"She has shown you can succeed, make a difference and be your own person while also celebrating your heritage. This inspires us all," he said.
Meghan and Harry name newly hatched kiwi chicks on final day of Pacific tour
Britain’s Prince Harry and his wife Meghan bestowed names on Wednesday to two newly-hatched young of New Zealand’s national bird, the kiwi, in the northeastern town of Rotorua, on the final day of their two-week tour of the Pacific.
The couple visited a breeding program for the endangered species and admired two three-day old chicks, whom they named Koha, meaning “gift”, and Tihei, derived from a phrase that means “sneeze of life” in the indigenous Te Reo Maori language.
Earlier, Harry led a group at a Maori meeting ground in singing “Te Aroha”, a traditional song, whose name means “Love” in Te Reo.
The couple were welcomed at Te Papaiouru Marae, visited by Harry’s grandmother Queen Elizabeth in her coronation year of 1953, in Rotorua, a town famed for its geothermal activity and described by its mayor as the ‘heartland of Maori culture’.
Meghan, who wore a navy Stella McCartney dress and a carved greenstone necklace gifted by the country’s governor general and Harry, in a grey suit, were both adorned with feathered cloaks gifted by local Maori.
Harry began his speech in the Te Reo language and ended it with a Maori proverb, drawing applause from the crowd with his strong pronunciation ; then he led the song.
His enthusiasm for the Maori language was welcomed by Rotorua Mayor Steve Chadwick, who said, “As our confidence as a bilingual district grows, so does our confidence in our people and our future.”
The use of Te Reo Maori language is experiencing a revival in New Zealand, after years of decline when policy makers cracked down on its use, particularly in schools.
Free Maori language courses often report being booked out and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said her infant daughter Neve Te Aroha will learn it alongside English.
Later, with Meghan wearing black puffa jacket, black trousers and flat shoes and Harry in a black shirt and beige chinos, they visited a tree-top canopy in a redwood tree forest, followed by a walkabout meeting with some of the public.
A group of children gave an impromptu haka, a traditional war dance made famous by New Zealand’s All Blacks rugby team.
A toddler wandered toward Harry through the metal barricades holding back the crowds, but the prince quickly sought out his family and directed him back.
The couple, who are expecting their first child in the northern spring, were set to leave New Zealand for London on Thursday, after a 16-day tour that also covered Australia, Fiji and Tonga.
Quake rattles New Zealand as Harry and Meghan visit
A 6.1 magnitude earthquake rattled parts of central New Zealand Tuesday, where British royals Meghan and Harry are on tour, but officials said it caused no major damage.
The quake was felt in Wellington during a session of parliament, prompting lawmakers to stop deliberations and seek refuge as a precaution.
There was no tsunami threat and the quake was not strongly felt in Auckland, where the touring royals continued with a public walkabout on the city's waterfront.
Reporters travelling with the couple said they did not feel any tremors during the quake, which the US Geological Survey (USGS) gave a magnitude of 6.1.
New Zealand's official GeoNet seismic monitoring service said a 6.2 quake struck at a depth of 207 kilometres (128 miles) in the central North Island about 340 kilometres northeast of Wellington.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said it was widely felt across the centre of the country, despite the depth of the epicentre, and urged Kiwis to "check on those around you".
Civil Defence Minister Kris Faafoi said there had been no reports of damage or injuries.
"I think some people might be a little nervy and that's understandable but it's just a case of following those safety messages and being prepared," he told reporters.
"I think if there was anything major we'd know by now."
Faafoi said proceedings in parliament house were temporarily suspended because of heavy shaking in the building.
"We all felt it in the house, I was in there at the time... and just for the immediate safety of those in the house (the speaker) saw fit to suspend proceedings," he said.
"I think that was the wise thing to do as we felt it quite heavily."
New Zealand lies on the boundary of the Australian and Pacific tectonic plates, which form part of the so-called "Ring of Fire", and experiences up to 15,000 tremors a year.
A shallow 6.3 quake in the South Island city of Christchurch killed 185 people in 2011, while a 7.8 shake slightly further north in 2016 was the second strongest ever recorded in the country.
Harry, Meghan and 'little bump' go bush in New Zealand
Prince Harry passed on greetings from "our little bump" to conservation workers in New Zealand Monday when he and pregnant wife Meghan toured a South Island nature reserve.
The British royals' arrival at the Abel Tasman National Park was heralded with blasts from a conch shell before a traditional Maori greeting.
Amid heavy rain, Harry told the crowd he was grateful the weather was mild enough to allow the royal party to make the trip from the capital Wellington in a New Zealand Air Force NH90 helicopter.
"The forecast was a lot worse than this so we are very, very glad to have made it," he said.
"The rain is a blessing on all of us... from my wife, myself and our little bump, we are so grateful to be here.
"We bring blessings from my grandmother, Her Majesty the Queen, and all of our family."
The couple then walked along the beach arm-in-arm talking to ranger Andrew Lamason.
They came across a weka, with Lamason describing the flightless bird as New Zealand's version of a monkey because of their cheeky nature.
They then joined local schoolchildren for lunch, with Milan Chapman, 15, of Motueka High School, describing them as "very nice, chatty and relaxed".
Earlier, the pair expressed their admiration for mental health workers at a beachside morning tea in Wellington.
Sitting alongside Meghan at the Maranui Cafe in Lyall Bay, Harry was unstinting in his praise for the gathered mental health advocates.
"I take my hat off to you guys," he told members of Voices of Hope, which aims to prevent youth suicide.
"Everyone needs someone to turn to right?"
Meghan, sipping from a cup of tea and wearing a grey Club Monaco trench coat to ward off the Wellington chill, added: "You're all doing really excellent work."
The couple are in New Zealand on the final leg of a marathon 16-day tour which has also taken in Australia, Fiji and Tonga.
The trip coincided with the 2018 Invictus Games in Sydney, an Olympic style sporting event for wounded soldiers that Harry helped found.
At the Games' closing ceremony on Saturday Harry spoke of the need to talk openly about anxiety, stress and depression, revealing his own struggles.
"I've been there, you've been there, and we now need to reach out to those who can never even imagine themselves in that place," he said.
Meghan has also used her first royal tour since marrying Harry five months ago to promote her own favoured causes, mainly female empowerment.
After arriving in Wellington Sunday to a traditional Maori welcome, including pressing noses with elders in a hongi greeting, she spoke at a reception honouring 125 years since New Zealand became the first country to give women the vote.
"Bravo New Zealand for championing this right 125 years ago - for the women who well deserve to have an active voice and acknowledged vote, and for all of the people that this effort has paved the way for globally," she said.
Rock star reception as Harry and Meghan start last leg of Pacific tour
Prince Harry and Meghan arrived in Wellington Sunday to a traditional Maori welcome, an official reception disrupted by a fire alarm and a rock star reception during a public walkabout.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are on the last leg of a 16-day, four-nation tour which was timed to coincide with the 2018 Invictus Games in Sydney.
They flew in from Sydney on a Royal New Zealand Air Force flight carrying the Kiwi team who took part in the Games, an Olympic style sporting event for wounded soldiers that Prince Harry helped found.
The royals held hands as they left the aircraft where they were greeted by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and mingled with the Invictus athletes before heading to a reception at the residence of the Governor-General of New Zealand Patsy Reddy.
The visibly pregnant duchess, with her hair in a bun, was wearing a black dress by ASOS Maternity and a calf-length brown chequered coat by Karen Walker, having changed during the three-hour flight from the burgundy dress she wore when boarding in Sydney.
They were welcomed to Government House with a traditional haka and performed a hongi greeting with indigenous Maori elders, in which they pressed noses together.
After visiting a newly unveiled UK War Memorial and laying a wreath at the tomb of the unknown soldier the royals received a excited reception as they went on a walkabout among thousands of fans, many screaming and with some draped in Union Jack flags and others wearing an array of tiaras.
There were tears and applause as the royal couple were showered with gifts, including a New Zealand 'Buzzy Bee' toy, which Harry held aloft to the delight of the crowd.
"I can't believe this has happened, I can't believe that I met the royals," said Victoria O'Brien, still sobbing several minutes after the royal couple had moved past her.
The royals then returned to Government House for meetings with Ardern and the leader of the opposition Simon Bridges, ahead of a reception hosted by the Governor-General marking the 125th anniversary of women's suffrage.
Just before Bridges was to met the prince a fire alarm went off, forcing the evacuation of the building and leaving dozens of women who were invited to the reception standing outside in the cold in their evening outfits, many holding drinks.
A Government House representative later said it was a false alarm caused by a vegetable steamer in the kitchen.
Harry and Meghan's itinerary over the following three days includes a hike and barbecue in the Abel Tasman National Park at the top of the South Island, a reception with Ardern at Auckland War Memorial Museum and a visit to the popular North Island tourist resort of Rotorua.
The couple will then head back to Auckland before flying out on Thursday to end a marathon tour which also took in Fiji and Tonga.
Harry and Meghan land in NZealand on last leg of Pacific tour
Prince Harry and Meghan arrived in Wellington Sunday to start the last leg of their 16-day, four-nation tour after attending the closing ceremony of the 2018 Invictus Games in Sydney.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex flew in from Australia on a Royal New Zealand Air Force flight carrying the Kiwi Invictus team.
They held hands as they left the aircraft and were greeted by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Wellington mayor Justin Lester before mingling with the Invictus athletes.
They departed the airport for a traditional Maori welcome and reception at the residence of the Governor-General of New Zealand Patsy Reddy.
The visibly pregnant Duchess, with her hair in a bun, was wearing a black dress by ASOS Maternity and a calf-length brown chequered coat by Karen Walker.
Both royals were wearing a red poppy.
Harry and Meghan will visit a newly unveiled UK War Memorial in Wellington and later Sunday attend a 125th anniversary celebration of women's suffrage in New Zealand.
Their itinerary over the following three days includes a hike and barbecue in the Abel Tasman National Park at the top of the South Island, a reception with Ardern at Auckland War Memorial Museum and a visit to the popular North Island tourist resort of Rotorua.
The couple will then head back to Auckland before flying out on Thursday to end their marathon tour which also took in Fiji and Tonga.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex earlier departed a windy Sydney airport, with Meghan wearing a burgundy dress.
Thousands of royal fans had turned out to greet the couple on their jam-packed visits to Sydney, Melbourne and the regional town of Dubbo.
The prince and Megan on Saturday attended the closing ceremony of the Invictus Games, the Olympic style sporting event for wounded soldiers that he helped found.
Prince Harry and wife Meghan attend final day of Invictus Games in Sydney
Britain's Prince Harry and wife Meghan were greeted by rapturous applause on Saturday when they arrived for the final day of the Invictus Games in Sydney.
The royal couple watched most the wheelchair basketball final and then presented gold medals to the U.S. team which comfortably beat the Netherlands by 29 points to 17.
A large crowd had packed into Sydney's Olympic Park to watch the last day of the week-long competition, with attention only diverted from the match for a short time as the couple entered and sat with the crowd.
The Invictus Games, founded by Harry, is an international paralympic-style event for military personnel wounded in action.
Former England soccer captain David Beckham, who is an Invictus ambassador, also attended the basketball match.
Both Harry and Meghan wore remembrance poppies on their chests, with Meghan's fixed upon her maroon top.
On Saturday evening, Harry and Meghan are due to attend the closing ceremony of the event, which has seen some 500 competitors from 18 nations take part.
The royal couple will move on to New Zealand on Sunday, where they are expected to be greeted by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, at the Australian Geographic Society Awards in Sydney. Photo: AFP
The tour of Commonwealth countries has seen the royal couple meet drought-stricken Australian farmers, visit the world-famous Bondi Beach and spend time in the Pacific nations of Fiji and Tonga.
Harry and Meghan step out in matching skirts in Tonga
Prince Harry and wife Meghan donned matching red and cream unisex skirts Friday as they wrapped up a four-day Pacific island trip in Tonga with a celebration of local crafts and culture.
The emphasis has been on Meghan's fashion choices during her first international tour since marrying into the British royals last May, but Harry cut a dash with a tasselled skirt worn over the outside of his suit.
Pregnant Meghan wore an identical garment high on the waist, covering her baby bump, as the pair toured a craft market in the island kingdom's capital Nuku'alofa.
The traditional skirts are a status symbol worn during formal occasions by both men and women in Tonga.
The warm welcome received by the royal couple during their travels in Tonga and Fiji this week continued, with local Iunisi Fotofili struggling to express her feelings at being in Meghan's presence.
"I'm very happy. Excited. I don't know if when I see them, I will cry, or be like... I just want to run to her and hug her."
Crowds turned out in their thousands in Fiji and Tonga, eclipsing the numbers seen on the first week of the couple's Oceania tour in Australia.
American-born Meghan wore a green-and-white striped cotton dress by Australian designer Martin Grant to tour the markets and meet Prime Minister Akilisi Pohiva.
She changed to a casual blue Veronica Beard shirt dress for a visit to an environmental project at Nuku'alofa's Tupou College.
At a banquet hosted by Tonga's King Tupou VI and Queen Nanasipau'u on Thursday night, Harry said the island nation was "a magical setting".
"Coming to Tonga I feel very much as though I am coming to visit an extended family," he said, reading a message from his grandmother Queen Elizabeth II.
"It gives me great pleasure that my grandson and his wife are visiting the kingdom of Tonga," the Queen's message said.
"Our two families have enjoyed a deep and warm friendship over many years and I hope that our close relationship continues with the next generation."
After less than 24 hours in Tonga, they return to Australia later Friday for the final days of the Invictus Games, the Olympic style sporting event for wounded soldiers that Harry helped found.
They will then end their marathon 16-day tour in New Zealand.
Prince Harry and his wife Meghan arrive in Tonga
Britain's Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex arrive at Fua'amotu airport in Tonga on October 25, 2018.
The couple left Fiji after a three-day official visit and arrived in Tonga as part of their tour of Australia and the South Pacific.
Duchess of Sussex rushed from market amid 'crowd management fears'
According to the Palace, the Duchess of Sussex was rushed out of a busy market in Fiji due to "crowd management issues".
The 37-year-old royal - who recently announced she's expecting her first child with the Duke of Sussex - made a visit to the venue on Wednesday (10.24.18) in order to learn more about a UN Women project called Markets for Change, but after just eight minutes, her security team decided to rush the Duchess out of the crowded area.
Initially, the Palace claimed that the decision was taken because of "uncomfortable conditions" - but later, it was conceded that "crowd management issues" was the reason behind the abrupt exit.
Despite this, the Duchess - who was known as Meghan Markle prior to her marriage in May - still managed to meet the four women she'd originally intended to.
Meanwhile, in her first speech on the royals' ongoing tour, the Duchess stressed the value of education and also spoke of her own struggle to afford to attend university.
The former 'Suits' actress - who attended Northwestern University in the US - said that the "journey of higher education is an incredible, impactful and pivotal one".
She continued: "I am also fully aware of the challenges of being able to afford this level of schooling for many people around the world - myself included.
"It was through scholarships, financial aid programmes and work-study - where my earnings from a job on campus went directly towards my tuition - that I was able to attend university. And, without question, it was worth every effort.
"Everyone should be afforded the opportunity to receive the education they want, but more importantly the education they have the right to receive. And for women and girls in developing countries, this is vital."
Meghan takes spotlight amid royal fever in Fiji
British royal Meghan Markle sent adoring crowds into a frenzy in Fiji on Wednesday when she took centre stage from husband Prince Harry to passionately promote women's rights.
The American-born 37 year old recounted her struggle to afford higher education in her maiden international speech, made to students at the University of the South Pacific.
She also met female traders at the Suva markets, although so many enthusiastic fans were jammed into the venue that her security detail cut short the pregnant duchess's visit.
Meghan, who married into the royal family five months ago, made the case for open access to education, particularly for women.
"For women and girls in developing countries this is vital," she said. "Providing them with access to education is the key to economic and social development.
"When girls are given the right tools to succeed they can create incredible futures, not only for themselves, but for all of those around them."
Meghan, 37, graduated with a communications degree from Northwestern University in Illinois before becoming an actress then marrying Harry earlier this year.
Announcing two grants to encourage female empowerment in Pacific academia, she said higher education for her was "incredible, impactful and pivotal", despite the challenge of paying for it.
"It was through scholarships, financial aid programmes and work-study - where my earnings from a job on campus went directly towards my tuition - that I was able to attend university," she said.
"And, without question, it was worth every effort."
Meghan's visit to meet women participating in the UN project Markets for Change was curtailed, with Kensington Palace later citing "crowd management issues" Rosemerry Dautei, 35, said Fijians were keen to see the visiting royals.
"It is just the excitement... this is an opportunity that has to be grabbed with both hands," she said.
Meghan's message resonated with Shayaa Chand, 22, who said: "In today's era we should support women and we should make them leaders. We are very grateful that Mrs Meghan thinks that way."
Harry, who attended the elite Eton school and Sandhurst military academy, watched his spouse's university address with admiration.
"No way I can follow my wife after that," he said, to laughter from the assembled students.
The prince acknowledged the Pacific's concerns about climate change, announcing four scholarships to study the issue.
"All of you living here are confronted with this threat in your daily lives," he said. "You're actually experiencing changing weather patterns, ferocious cyclones and rising sea levels, particularly in Tuvalu and Kiribati.
"You've been living with this for many years, way before the world started talking about it."
The royal couple, who arrived in Fiji on Tuesday after a week in Australia, appeared relaxed touring the campus, meeting students and pre-school children.
Meghan wore a pink floral wrap dress with a pompom trim, and flowers in her hair, while Harry sported a blue Hawaiian shirt.
The day started on a sombre note for Harry, who attended a ceremony at the Fiji war memorial in Suva.
"In grateful memory of those who made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of their country," he wrote on a note attached to a wreath laid at the memorial.
The royals will travel to Tonga on Thursday before returning briefly to Australia then wrapping up the tour with a visit to New Zealand.
Prince Harry and Meghan arrive in hot Fiji for 3-day visit
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex were greeted by hundreds of flag-waving well-wishers on Tuesday after arriving in Fiji for a three-day visit as part of their tour of the South Pacific.
School children in uniform and people of all ages lined the streets and waved both British Union Jack and Fijian flags as Prince Harry and Meghan's motorcade drove past.
The couple arrived from Australia, where Meghan, who is four months pregnant, had her schedule reduced in recent days after a hectic start to their 16-day trip across four countries. Meghan has not announced any plans to reduce her schedule in Fiji.
After stepping off the plane, Meghan needed to hold her cream-colored hat to prevent it from being blown away as Harry inspected a guard of honor. There was a light drizzle and an official held an umbrella above Meghan's head.
The couple was scheduled to attend an official welcome ceremony at Suva's Albert Park that will mirror one attended by Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh in 1953. It was to involve traditional elements of Fijian culture, including dances and a kava ceremony. Members of the public are invited and 15,000 are expected to attend.
The couple was scheduled to attend a reception and state dinner Tuesday evening hosted by Fijian President Jioji Konrote.
The couple is scheduled to visit Tonga on Thursday before returning to Sydney on Friday night for the final days of the Invictus Games, Harry's brainchild and the focus of their tour. The couple will then finish their tour with a four-day visit to New Zealand.