The Duchess of Sussex has said the women of New Zealand who fought for universal suffrage are “universally admired”.
Meghan was speaking at Government House celebrating the 125th anniversary of women being given the vote – the first country in the world to give the vote to women.
She said: “The achievements of the women of New Zealand who campaigned for their right to vote, and were the first in the world to achieve it, are universally admired.
“In looking forward to this very special occasion, I reflected on the importance of this achievement, but also the larger impact of what this symbolises.
“Because yes – women’s suffrage is about feminism, but feminism is about fairness.”
She ended her speech with a phrase from Kate Sheppard, the most prominent member of the women’s suffrage movement in New Zealand.
The country’s most famous suffragette was born in Liverpool, and emigrated to New Zealand with her family in 1868.
Meghan, who wore a black Gabriela Hearst gown and a Maori inspired necklace, said: “In the words of your suffragette Kate Sheppard, ‘All that separates, whether race, class, creed, or sex, is inhuman, and must be overcome’.”
The evening got off to a false start after the building had to be evacuated just moments before Meghan and Harry were due to be officially welcomed.
As they were both getting ready in an upstairs room at Government House, a sprawling mansion built in 1910, an unidentified person set off a smoke alarm in a downstairs toilet.
An official later said it was believed to have been “steam or some form of atomiser”, perhaps an aerosol can, that had caused the false alarm.
After a 20-minute delay, the duke and duchess were greeted first by the leader of the opposition, Simon Bridges and his wife Natalie, before spending around 20 minutes warmly chatting to Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand’s third female Prime Minister.