Climbing into a helicopter to fly deep into Morocco’s Atlas Mountains, you would be forgiven for forgetting that Duchess Meghan is over seven months pregnant. In fact, given how busy recent months have been for the new royal, it would be tough for anyone to object if she wanted to sit out the early-morning expedition—especially after flying in from London less than 48 hours earlier.
But the February 24 trip was a chance to visit a charity championing a cause close to her heart—universal education opportunities for women—and there was no way she was going to miss it. With Prince Harry’s help, she carefully sat down in the cabin and placed noise-isolating headphones over her head. Ready for takeoff.
“Her energy is boundless,” British Ambassador to Morocco Thomas Reilly, who escorted the Duke and Duchess of Sussex on their three-day visit to the country, tells BAZAAR.com. “Here’s a woman jumping into a helicopter to fly 1,400 meters [almost 4,600 feet] high, still smiling and ready to do it all, ready to push the issues that matter.”
Adds a friend of the duchess, who notes that she’s “feeling so great” in her final trimester, “That’s ‘Super Meg’ for you—giving it her all. Her energy levels have never failed to impress me.”
From gender equality and universal education opportunities to social entrepreneurship and female empowerment, the visit’s three-day itinerary shone a spotlight on the issues most important to the duchess. Prince Harry, already established as a humanitarian force of his own, often let Meghan take the lead during their nine Moroccan engagements, leaning in to her ear periodically to see if his wife was feeling “okay” along the way. She always was.
After their helicopter dropped them off in the small town of Asni, Meghan spoke to executives from Education For All, a charity that provides education opportunities to girls from rural parts of Morocco, about the importance of universal literacy. “It’s important that every girl has access to further and higher education,” she said. Meghan, conscious of a potential language barrier, even prepared questions in a French to ask the 12- to 18-year-old students who live at the boarding house.
“Their visit to Asni was important and especially important to me,” says Reilly. “The purpose of Education For All is to make sure that no girl in this country gets left behind. Girls who don’t traditionally have the opportunity to continue their education deserve the same chances as everyone else. The cause is something that really resonates with [Harry and Meghan] and they both kicked it out the park that day.”
Education For All, which currently supports 250 girls at a time, hopes that the couple’s visit will finally help the organization replicate their success in Asni across the rest of Morocco, which has a 51 percent female population. It’s not a tall order—a visit from Harry and Meghan has changed the future of many charities.
“Girls who don’t traditionally have the opportunity to continue their education deserve the same chances as everyone else.” —British Ambassador to Morocco Thomas Reilly
Meghan’s ability to deliver as a working member of the British Royal Family also serves as a reminder to the world of what she stands for. While Palace aides say it wasn’t intentional, almost every engagement on the Sussexes’ overseas visit involved subjects that have featured heavily in Meghan’s philanthropic repertoire. Given the continued presence of negative commentary in the U.K. press, it’s a perfectly-timed recap before the duchess begins maternity leave.
“It was one of those times where everything just lined up,” Reilly says of the itinerary. “I listed the areas of interest to the Royal Visits Committee when putting in a request for the couple to visit and the response was, ‘Wow, this is absolutely perfect for them.’”
There was even an overseas appearance from Together: Our Community Cookbook when the couple spent an afternoon with Moroccan chef Dar Moha. Meghan and Harry cooked a Moroccan pancake recipe from the New York Times bestseller with children from underprivileged backgrounds and disabled staff who work at a specially-designed restaurant in the capital of Rabat. “They’ll be so proud to see this,” Meghan said while chatting with Moha about her collaboration with the women of west London’s Hubb Community Kitchen. “The message has traveled far.” Clutching a signed copy of the book, Moha later told reporters, “She has an amazing heart.”
When Kensington Palace announced the Sussexes’ Moroccan visit in January, little was known about the purpose of the somewhat short-notice plans to travel at the request of British Government. But with the country on the brink of Brexit, the need to build relations is clear. And a large spotlight on the bilateral relationship between U.K. and Morocco, a gateway into North Africa’s fast-growing economy, would be an easy feat thanks to the 100 members of the world’s press accredited to cover the superstars of the British Royal Family.
Compared to the King of Spain’s state visit to Morocco earlier this month, Harry and Meghan’s impact on the country has traveled further and wider. “This was a very different kind of trip—personal, informal and away from the pomp and pageantry of traditional visits,” Reilly says. “Moroccans loved the way [Meghan and Harry] were so spontaneous and cared so deeply.”
Local children were equally taken. While learning about equine therapy during a February 25 visit to the Moroccan Royal Federation of Equestrian Sports, the couple demonstrated their easygoing charm with young kids receiving equine assisted therapy (EAT), and took their time to stop and chat to many of the children.
“They’ll be great parents,” says Reilly. “They really make time for everyone on these engagements. You try and move them on to the next section and they’re both like, ‘Wait, we still haven’t spoken to everyone yet.’”
The couple also quickly won over Reilly’s own children, Elsa, eight, and Orla, 12, whom they first met at an evening reception in the British Ambassador’s residence.
“The girls got to meet Harry and Meghan twice and they both got big hugs,” says Reilly. “They’re both great role models, and for the girls, Meghan is absolutely someone they can look up to. She’s a strong woman focusing on the things that matter.”
Landing back in the U.K. today after a private evening resting in Morocco, Meghan will continue working over the weeks ahead, her final days of pregnancy before giving birth in April. Palace sources tell BAZAAR.com that the duchess still has a number public and private engagements in the diary, although air travel is now officially off-limits.
Reilly tells BAZAAR that the couple’s final engagement in Morocco—a February 25 meeting with King Mohammed VI—was the perfect opportunity to thank the couple for their generosity before leaving. “I can’t think of better ambassadors for the U.K.,” he told the couple as they stood on the steps outside Rabat’s Dar-al-Makhzen palace. “But I’m American,” Meghan laughed, blushing at the kind compliment. “Well you’re also one of us now,” he responded. “You’re both gems.”
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