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HomeTop StoriesPrince Harry, Meghan Markle visit Nigeria, share mental health message with kids

Prince Harry, Meghan Markle visit Nigeria, share mental health message with kids

Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, are no longer working royals, having stepped away from the role four years ago, but for the next several days, the Sussexes are on a trip that looks similar to their royal tours of the past.

On Friday, Harry and Meghan, who now live in California, kicked off a three-day visit to Nigeria, a country in West Africa that they are both visiting for the first time.

Harry and Meghan’s visit has no affiliation with Britain’s royal family, and is instead at the invitation of the country’s Chief of Defense Staff, its highest-ranking military official.

Their three-day visit will have the couple interacting with not only military officials but also locals, including women leaders and servicemen and women.

On Friday, Harry and Meghan visited a school in the capital city of Abuja together, kicking off an inaugural mental health summit run by a local nonprofit, GEANCO, which is affiliated with their Archewell Foundation. The couple was serenaded with cheers and dancing by the children.

PHOTO: Prince Harry and Meghan visit children at the Lights Academy in Abuja, Nigeria, May 10, 2024.

Prince Harry and Meghan visit children at the Lights Academy in Abuja, Nigeria, May 10, 2024.

Sunday Alamba/AP

Harry spoke to the students and teachers about why it’s important to break the stigma around mental health and acknowledge how you feel.

“Every single person in this room, the youngest, the oldest, every single person has mental health. So therefore, you have to look after yourself to be able to look after other people. And other people have to be able to look after themselves, to look after you. That’s the way it works. And there is no shame to be able to acknowledge that today is a bad day, OK?” Harry told the crowd.

He added, “[If] you woke up this morning feeling sad, and you left school feeling stressed, and you’ve lost a loved one in your family, and you don’t know who you talk to or who to speak to — all of these things you may be led to believe are not for conversation, we are here today to tell you that that is not the case. Every single one of those things is completely normal. It is a human reaction, whether it’s grief, stress, whatever the feeling is, it comes from an experience that you have had. You can have it. She can have it. I can have it. They can have it. Every single one of us is likely to have that on any given day. So, if you take anything away from today, just know that mental health affects every single person in the entire world.”

PHOTO: Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and his wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, walk out after meeting the students at the Lightway Academy in Abuja, Nigeria, May 10, 2024.

Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and his wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, walk out after meeting the students at the Lightway Academy in Abuja, Nigeria, May 10, 2024.

Akintunde Akinleye/Reuters

While visiting a kindergarten class, the children had the couple on their feet again for a joyous game of “jump up, turn around.”

Harry asked a student, “Is singing and dancing your favorite class?”

Meghan added that their daughter Lili, who is about to turn 3, also loves “all the jumping around.”

PHOTO: Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, and Meghan ,Duchess of Sussex, meet with children during their visit at the Lightway Academy in Abuja on May 10, 2024.

Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, and Meghan ,Duchess of Sussex, meet with children during their visit at the Lightway Academy in Abuja on May 10, 2024.

Kola Sulaimon/AFP via Getty Images

They also visited a STEM class where students shared robot cars they’d built, and Meghan revealed her son Archie, now 5, liked construction too.

The couple were gifted a traditional wooden mask and books about Nigerian heritage.

What else to expect from Harry and Meghan’s trip

Harry will also meet with injured service members at a local military hospital during the trip, a spokesperson for the Sussexes confirmed to ABC News, and the couple plan to meet with the Chief of Defense Staff.

On Saturday, the couple plan to attend a training session for Nigeria: Unconquered, a nonprofit organization that is affiliated with the Invictus Games, a Paralympic-style competition for wounded service members that Harry founded in 2014.

Meghan is also scheduled to co-host an event on women in leadership with the director general of the World Trade Organization.

On Sunday, their final day in Nigeria, Harry and Meghan will attend a basketball clinic and a “cultural reception,” according to their spokesperson.

The couple will also attend a polo fundraiser for Nigeria: Unconquered.

PHOTO: Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex meet with NATO Joint Force Command and families from Italy and Netherlands during day five of the Invictus Games Dusseldorf 2023, Sept. 14, 2023, in Duesseldorf, Germany.

Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex meet with NATO Joint Force Command and families from Italy and Netherlands during day five of the Invictus Games Dusseldorf 2023, Sept. 14, 2023, in Duesseldorf, Germany.

Sascha Schuermann/Getty Images

Just as they did during their days as working royals, Harry and Meghan are accompanied on the trip by a pool reporter and photographer, according to their spokesperson.

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Couple drew big crowds on royal tours before exit

On previous official visits as working royals, Harry and Meghan were known to draw large crowds and bring global attention to the countries they visited.

In late 2019, Harry and Meghan traveled to South Africa for what would be their last major overseas royal tour. There, they shone in public events interacting with locals, but also spoke candidly about the struggles they faced as newlyweds and new parents under the glare of the public spotlight.

“It’s hard,” Meghan told ITV anchor Tom Bradby for the documentary, “Harry & Meghan: An African Journey.” “I don’t think anybody could understand that.”

Just months later, in January 2020, Harry and Meghan announced to the world that they planned to “step back” from their duties as senior members of Britain’s royal family.

Shortly after that announcement, Buckingham Palace confirmed the Sussexes would no longer be “working members” of the royal family.

Since then, the couple has settled in California with their two young children, Archie and Lilibet, and become financially independent, taking on new roles in the entertainment and philanthropy worlds.

Harry and Meghan have returned together to the United Kingdom since their departure less than a handful of times, most recently attending the funeral for the late Queen Elizabeth II in September 2022.

Harry returned to London solo on May 8 to attend a 10th anniversary service for the Invictus Games held at St. Paul’s Cathedral.

PHOTO: Prince Harry leaves after attending an Invictus Games Foundation 10th Anniversary Service of Thanksgiving at St Paul's Cathedral in London, May 8, 2024.

Prince Harry leaves after attending an Invictus Games Foundation 10th Anniversary Service of Thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral in London, May 8, 2024.

Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP

The duke did not see his father King Charles III nor his brother Prince William during his visit.

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