Heritage

What's to Come for Harry and Meghan in 2019

From the causes the royal couple chose to highlight to their tendency to run behind schedule, the day of engagements set the tone for a busy year ahead.
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When Prince Harry and Meghan Markle stepped out in the town of Birkenhead in northwest England today, they delighted crowds with chatter about the impending arrival of their baby. On their first joint official engagement of the year, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex greeted excited well-wishers in the town center, happily opening up about possible due dates (she is six months along apparently), potential names, and how they haven’t yet found out if they are having a boy or a girl.

The details—along with images of 37-year-old Meghan looking glowing in a purple Babaton by Aritizia dress under a red coat by Sentaler—instantly went around the world.


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Meghan and Harry visit Number 7, a citizen’s supermarket and community café working to eliminate hunger in Birkenhead.

Meghan and Harry’s visit to Birkenhead set the tone for their 2019, establishing them as a formidable double act with what is emerging as a relentless determination to use their hugely high profile positions to affect positive change. The intense interest in them—made only more intense by impending arrival of a baby—has allowed them to shine a light on the causes closest to their heart as they kick off what will be a big year.

Prince Harry once said he knew he had to "make the most" of the time while people were interested in him to use his star power to help those in need. For her part, Meghan once wrote that "with fame comes opportunity, but it also includes responsibility—to advocate and share, to focus less on glass slippers and more on pushing through glass ceilings."

After a difficult period coming to terms with his position following his mother’s death, Harry found enthusiasm for his public role before he met his wife. Yet, it is clear that with Meghan by his side both his joy for the job and his ability to make an impact are significantly magnified.

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Indeed, Meghan spelled this ethos out herself today during the final stop of the day, to youth community center the Hive, when she said to two young girls: "Everything’s better when you share."

The causes the couple visited in Birkenhead represent a range of their shared charitable interests, while also highlighting the town's history. Beginning at 11 a.m. outside the Town Hall, they viewed a statue dedicated to war poet Wilfred Owen—who was educated in the town—and conducted a walkabout before traveling to see the work of a Feeding Birkenhead citizen’s supermarket, which helps to eliminate hunger in the area. Then, they stopped at Tomorrow’s Women Wirral which supports vulnerable women—a cause close to Meghan’s heart—before traveling to one final stop, the Hive, where they heard how the community center has changed young people’s lives and got them off the streets.

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Local politician Frank Field, who set up the visit, shared how he asked Meghan if he could speak with her again about charity work after she had her baby, but she replied they should do it "before."

"As the Duchess said, these are projects... that we can take not just to the rest of the county but to the world," Field told T&C. "So I’m going to talk to the Duchess before she has her baby."

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"I said 'Can I see you after?' and she said 'No, before.'"

"I’ve been briefing her on how we counter modern slavery, how we’re going to take that further," he added. “She’s definitely a very, very active member of the royal family. And so is he. And also how much they love one another which is pretty nice to see.”

Field's final observation perhaps sums up for many what this couple offer: "What you see is this ability of taking the monarchy way into this century."


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Watching Harry and Meghan interact with each other and the crowds, it is clear how much they enjoy carrying out their public roles together and how much of their affection for each other they are willing to share in public. Frequently putting their arms around each other and holding hands, it is generally acknowledged by now that they are by far the most openly tactile royals Britain has seen.

But what it also interesting is how Harry—who has always been a dynamic figure capable of commanding the spotlight—so eagerly adopts a supporting role to let his wife shine. This was evident during their visit to Tomorrow’s Women Wirral, where Meghan gave a speech—the only one of the day—while Harry proudly looked on.

Harry, who has always been a dynamic figure capable of commanding the spotlight, has eagerly adopted a supporting role that lets his wife shine.

"I think you all know how important for me it is, women supporting each other," she said. "But as my husband may have mentioned earlier talking to some of you, it’s also key that men are there supporting behind the scenes." She then asked Harry to unveil a plaque to mark the visit.

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Rachel Markey, 32, session planner at the Hive, reflected on how Meghan and Harry have a unique ability to relate to and appeal to young people. "We’ve just started talking about inspirational women, and Meghan actually came up in conversation," she told T&C.

"The young people really relate to her, they think she’s very influential within their generation," she added.


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Meghan and Harry look on during a dance performance at The Hive.

"They are so down to earth, so friendly. They talk to people, especially young people, they talk to them on a level that they totally understand. They made a nice connection straight away."

Indeed, Meghan may be the first royal to fully bring an understanding of what it means to think about how you will pay your bills to her royal role.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex ran almost an hour behind schedule today as they chatted to the crowds for longer than anticipated at most stops. While it may end up frustrating royal aides who meticulously plan the schedule, this could be another recurring feature of their 2019 as they attempt to satisfy the intense interest in them—and harness it to help those who need it most.

This story originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com.
* Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors.

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