Inside Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s ‘Turning Point’ in Their Royal Roles: ‘They Wanted to Be More Down to Earth’

Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex endured more than their fair share of negative press before they decided to pack it all in and leave their royal duties behind. There was one shining moment, however, when their actions weren’t, for once, criticized by the public and the press and when they demonstrated a real turning point as royals, one expert shares.

Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex visit the Nyanga Township during their royal tour of South Africa
Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex | Karwai Tang/WireImage

Prince Harry and Meghan’s ‘turning point’ identified them as ‘down to earth’

There was a moment that one expert calls the “turning point” for Prince Harry and Meghan, where they showed how they were anything but stuffy or “high glamour royals.” The Sussexes’ first day of their Africa tour showed a “new side” of the couple, as they shed any notions of royal formalities in favor of a more casual visit that allowed them the opportunity to really connect with the people they encountered on the trip.

Christine Ross, the editor of the Meghan’s Mirror blog, noted that the first day of their tour, Sept. 23, 2019, Prince Harry and Meghan arrived and were dancing with locals during their visit to a Justice Desk initiative in Nyanga township.

“She was dancing with the children and it was such a stark contrast to some of the events we had seen before her pregnancy,” Ross noted during the Pod Save the Queen podcast. “She’s in this very affordable dress, she’s in affordable wedges, her hair is in a ponytail… she’s dancing with children.”

Ross continued, “We didn’t know then what we know now but I think that tour and even just that moment and that look was a turning point in their roles, in that they weren’t going to be these high glamour royals anymore.” 

“They wanted to be more down to earth, with the people, dancing with the children, getting out into the crowds,” she explained.

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has come to an end, but The Duke and Duchess have had the opportunity to look back on an incredible 10 days through South Africa, Botswana, Angola and Malawi. Thank you for following along! Their Royal Highness’s journey took them 15,000 miles across southern Africa where they we’re greeted by so many amazing people along the way. They witnessed the great partnership between the UK and Africa, met local community groups, leaders, and youth and elders, who all imparted knowledge and inspiration. On their final day of the tour, The Duchess said: “Please know that you have all given us so much inspiration, so much hope – and above all, you have given us joy.” • During their tour, The Duke and Duchess unveiled three new Queens Commonwealth Canopy projects, protecting forests and planting trees, and worked with the British Government to announce investment of £8m in technology and skills in the region. The Duke traveled to Angola to focus on the ongoing mission to rid the world of landmines, an extension of the work that was pioneered by his mother, Diana, Princess of Wales. The Duchess announced gender grants from the Association of Commonwealth Universities to improve access to higher education for women, as well as four scholarships for students studying across the commonwealth. Throughout this trip they were able to join an important and essential conversation about the rights of women and girls – not isolated to Southern Africa, but also globally. Throughout this visit, The Duke and Duchess were struck by the spirit and generosity from every community they visited. Speaking to young entrepreneurs in Tembisa, a township in Johannesburg, The Duke said: “As I raise my own son, I want to make sure that what I’ve learned here – the value of the natural world, the value of community and friendship – is something that I can pass on to him.” • Thank you to everyone who supported from afar, and those who have followed along the way! We hope you enjoy this wrap up video to the tune of a wonderful song by The Soweto Gospel Choir, a favourite of The Duke and Duchess. Video ©️ SussexRoyal

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Meghan went with a more casual look for the visit

Meghan opted to dress more casually during their visit and didn’t wear her wedding ring or any fancy accessories. On the first day of their tour, Meghan wore a black and white dress designed by Mayamiko and she and Prince Harry wore ‘Justice Desk’ beaded bracelets.

“I love that wrap dress because it’s not a royal color,” Ross shared. “She was still showing a very normal post-partum body which so many women around the world appreciated and that outfit to me, especially as it marked the beginning of the tour, was a turning point in her relationship with her role as a duchess.”

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South Africa • After months of planning, Their Royal Highnesses, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex arrived in South Africa today for their official Royal Tour of Southern Africa – focusing on community, grassroots leadership, women’s and girls’ rights, mental health, HIV/AIDS and the environment. Their first stop was to the incredible Justice Desk Project which works to make women and children safer in Nyanga. It’s an issue of vital importance in South Africa and across the globe, their Royal Highnesses wanted to learn first-hand about the issues people face and the work being done on the ground. One of the workshops Their Royal Highnesses saw was the Mbokodo project which provides self-defense classes and female empowerment workshops to young girls who are overcoming major traumas. This project's powerful motto is "wathint' abafazi wathint' imbokodo" which means "you strike a woman; you strike a rock" • “And just on one personal note, 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 for me I am here with you as a mother, as a wife, as a woman, as a woman of colour and as your sister.” – The Duchess of Sussex • @TheJusticeDesk Project is supported by the @Queens_Commonwealth_Trust and works with community leaders in Nyanga, with the firm belief that if you can change the mindset of a community, you can change the mindset of a country. #SussexRoyalTour #RoyalVisitSouthAfrica • Photo ©️PA images / SussexRoyal – video SussexRoyal

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Even their critics had nothing negative to say

The Sussexes could do no wrong during their tour — even their toughest critics couldn’t fault them at the time.

Piers Morgan, one of the couple’s most vocal critics, had nothing but praise for them. “Their tour of South Africa has been an unqualified success,” Morgan wrote on the Daily Mail at the time. “The Duke and Duchess of Sussex haven’t put a foot wrong as they’ve toured the country shining an important light on many issues from gender violence to poverty and education.”

He added, “They’ve behaved like royals should behave — with dignity, grace, good humor and empathy.”