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Harry and Meghan given traditional welcome on arrival in Fiji

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex took part in a 45-minute ceremony featuring traditional chants and dancing.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex wave from the balcony of the Grand Pacific Hotel, in Suva, Fiji (AP)
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex wave from the balcony of the Grand Pacific Hotel, in Suva, Fiji (AP)

The Duke of Sussex echoed his grandparents as he and his wife were given a traditional welcome to Fiji before waving from the balcony of the Grand Pacific Hotel.

The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh were treated to the welcome in the capital Suva’s Albert Park in 1953 and Harry and Meghan sat in the same location on Tuesday as he was offered roast pig, a whale’s tooth and the traditional drink kava.

After the 45-minute welcoming ceremony which featured traditional chants and dancing, the couple then made the short drive to the Grand Pacific Hotel where hundreds packed in to see the Sussexes on the balcony.

Fiji is the latest stop on Harry and Meghan’s 16-day tour which will see them also travel to New Zealand, Tonga and then back to Australia.

People in nearby fields strained their eyes for a glimpse of the couple as they arrived at Nausori airport, with Meghan wearing a Zimmerman dress, a hat by Stephen Jones and earrings which the Queen had given her as a gift, paired with a bracelet from the Prince of Wales.

Harry and Meghan observed a royal salute, and the duke was then invited to inspect the guard of honour before the couple left for their next engagement, a meeting with Fiji’s president, Jioji Konrote.

Harry inspects the guard of honour on arrival in Suva (Kirsty Wrigglesworth/PA)

As their convoy left the airport, thousands of well-wishers lined the road along the 15-mile route to Suva, waving flags and cheering.

People ran alongside the motorcade as it pulled into Albert Park under cloudy skies for the official welcoming ceremony, or Veirqaraqarvi Vakavanua.

Hundreds, slightly damp from the rain shower – or “a bit of blessing”, as the master of ceremonies put it – cheered and waved Union flags and Fijian flags as the couple arrived.

Meghan wore a Zimmerman dress, with hat by Stephen Jones (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

The crowd maintained a reverential silence – with only the occasional burst of children chatting or a nearby clock chiming heard over the rhythmic drums and chanting of the ceremony.

Harry and Meghan sat on a stage as he was given the whale’s tooth, a sign of wealth, during the vakasobu part of the ceremony, before he was given kava, a drink made from a mashed plant root, during the yaqona vakaturaga.

Harry, his medals catching the floodlights, looked on as the kava was made with the root wrung out, before a bowl was passed to the duke on the stage.

Fijian men in traditional dress carrying roasted pig in Alberts Park as part of the welcoming ceremony for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex (Chris Jackson/PA)

He accepted the bowl and held it to his lips as the crowd cheered.

Rain began to fall again as the lovo, a presentation of a roast pig, and a basket of dalo, a root vegetable like a potato, was offered to the duke.

He told the crowd: “Bula venaka! The duchess and I look forward to meeting as many of you as possible during the next two days and celebrating the links and close friendship between Fiji and the United Kingdom.”

He signed off with “Venaka”, or thank you, to cheers and laughter.

To close the ceremony, the couple watched a meke, a traditional dance, with Harry leaning forward in his seat.

Dozens of people from the village of Nakelo – an area known for its links to the Armed Forces – took to the Albert Park turf to perform for the duke and duchess.

As soon as the ceremony was over, there was a rush towards the Grand Pacific Hotel.

The duke and duchess appeared on the balcony for 30 seconds, waving to the crowds below with many taking pictures on camera phones.

Later on Tuesday, the couple will attend a reception and dinner hosted by the president of Fiji.



From Belfast Telegraph