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Harry and Meghan on impromptu walkabout in historic Cape Town neighbourhood

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex listened to the stories of people who were forcibly removed from District Six during the Apartheid era.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex arrive for a visit to the District Six Museum in Cape Town, South Africa (Dominic Lipinski/PA)
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex arrive for a visit to the District Six Museum in Cape Town, South Africa (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

By Tony Jones, PA Court Correspondent in Cape Town

There were hugs and presents for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex when they embarked on an impromptu walkabout in Cape Town’s historic District Six neighbourhood.

Harry and Meghan were embraced by 81-year-old Somaya Ebrahim, who was in the crowds when the duke’s grandmother the Queen first visited the city with her parents and sister in 1947.

The former District Six resident, who with thousands of others was forcibly removed to a township with her family during the Apartheid era, asked the couple: “Where’s Archie?” and was told the four-month-old baby was sleeping.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex in Cape Town (Mark Large/PA)

Others who lived through the infamous event said the duchess understood their plight better because of her mixed race heritage.

And the duchess appeared visibly moved as she listened to the plight of one elderly couple who described how they were ousted from their home, which was later pulled down.

Hours after declaring herself a “woman of colour” during a visit to a Cape Town township, the duchess, accompanied by the duke, visited the District Six Homecoming Centre after their walkabout.

Meghan was moved by an elderly couple’s story (Mark Large/PA)

The visitor attraction, part of the nearby District Six Museum the royals also toured, offers a place for former residents to meet and cook as a means of keeping the spirit of the area alive.

Fairuz Achmat-Basardian, 52, who was six when her family was forced out in 1971, said after the royal visit: “It means a lot to us all that Meghan is mixed race. She understands better what has happened to us.”

Patience Watlington, 77, who had made the couple a mutton and tomato stew, said the duchess had sung the praises of slow cooking.

“She just said slow cooking is very nourishing,” said Ms Watlington.

The duke declared the stew delicious.

The couple enjoyed the food (Facundo Arrizbalaga/PA)

“It is amazing food. If we had time I would eat all of it.”

The couple tasted a butter bean stew made by Asa Salie, 67, and Shahnaz Arnold, 57.

Ms Salie said: “The duke asked me if we could ever forgive what the Apartheid government did to us. And I said we can forgive but we can never forget.”

For the visit, Meghan had changed from a black-and-white wrap dress by Mayamiko she had worn earlier during the township trip with Harry, to a Veronica Beard shirt she first aired almost a year ago in Tonga.

Meghan wore a Veronica Beard shirt she had worn previously in Tonga (Facundo Arrizbalaga/PA)

During the walkabout, local artist Adrien Lee presented the duke with a portrait of himself she had painted, which he declared to be “amazing”.

“I painted it two years ago,” she said, “but I was waiting for an opportunity to give it to him.

“Meghan saw it and said, ‘Wow’ and that was wonderful, very special. I am so thrilled that they absolutely loved it.”

Earlier at the museum, the duke and duchess learned how more than 60,000 District Six residents were forcibly relocated to the Cape Flats Township in the 1960s.

The couple were shown around the District Six Museum (Mark Large/PA)

Freed slaves, artisans, immigrants, merchants and the Cape Malay community had previously lived side by side there for more than a century until the government declared it a whites-only area.

Inside the museum, once a church, they met ex-residents of District Six, who showed them the site of their original family homes on a huge interactive floor map.

Meghan was visibly moved as she listened to Joe Schaffers, 80, and Noor Ebrahim, 74, describe how they were given notice to leave, moved to townships in the Cape Flats and saw their old homes demolished.



From Belfast Telegraph