Harry and Meghan’s baby Archie will arrive in South Africa with his parents this morning for their first official tour as a family.
It is unclear how soon the Duke and Duchess of Sussex will be seen with their son after their arrival in Cape Town, as there is no formal photo opportunity at the airport.
The palace said this was due to South Africa’s president Cyril Ramaphosa being at the United Nations General Assembly in New York. Buckingham Palace said earlier this month that they were hoping Archie would make a public appearance but were sorting out the details.
The palace said the couple are looking forward to the 10-day tour which will see them visit Cape Town and Johannesburg, with Prince Harry also travelling alone to Botswana, Angola and Malawi.
The prospect of seeing five-month-old Archie on his first overseas tour has increased international media attention, with 80 travelling media accredited to cover the trip, along with another 300 local journalists, TV crews and photographers.
It comes after a difficult summer for the Sussexes, including criticism of the £2m bill to refurbish Frogmore Cottage, and suggestions they were being hypocritical for using private jets for their holidays while campaigning about issues around climate change. Some royal commentators see this tour as an opportunity to rebuild their reputation.
One of the issues the couple will focus on is gender-based violence, as their visit follows a series of protests in South Africa against the increase in the number of women being raped and murdered. Mr Ramaphosa admitted the country is facing a national crisis of violence against women, and Meghan is expected to show support for those campaigning on the issue.
Zintle Olayi, the Cape Town spokesperson for #TheTotalShutdown intersectional women’s movement, told Sky News: “I think our country is really broken, and we’re not ok and I’m not sure really how we are going to receive them coming here but definitely it couldn’t hurt to have someone of that profile or that magnitude to speak on the issues of gender-based violence.”
Talking about the impact Meghan could have, Ms Olayi added: “It means the state will take us seriously, the private sector will take us seriously and in general men in South Africa will take us seriously, seeing someone as Meghan speaking against the behaviour men inflict on women on a daily basis.”
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The first engagement of the tour will be at a township in Cape Town where the Sussexes will view a workshop that teaches children about their rights, self-awareness and safety and which provides self-defence classes and female empowerment training to young girls in the community.
They will then go to the District Six Museum to learn about how they are reuniting members of the community forcibly relocated during the apartheid era, when more than more than 60,000 people were forced to leave their homes.
Shahied Ajam was living there at the time and now helps those still fighting to return. Speaking about the royal visit and the painful legacy of apartheid, he said: “For Prince Harry to come here, I must say, is a big step towards the what we call the healing process. If people see Harry and talk to him, maybe he will understand and identify with their plight.”
He added: “In regards to the history of the English, or Britain, in this country, if we speak in terms of colonialism we can’t wipe that away but Harry being of a new generation can turn the tables with a gesture. With a practical and tangible gesture to say to the people of District Six: ‘I’m here for you’.”