Sunday 18 November 2018

New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern speaks of 'real empathy' for pregnant Meghan Markle during 'tiring time' of royal tour

Meghan, Britain's Duchess of Sussex (R) attends a reception hosted by New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at the Auckland War Memorial Museum in Auckland on October 30, 2018
Meghan, Britain's Duchess of Sussex (R) attends a reception hosted by New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at the Auckland War Memorial Museum in Auckland on October 30, 2018
Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex arrive for Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's reception at Auckland War Memorial Museum on October 30, 2018 in Auckland, New Zealand
Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex arrive for Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's reception at Auckland War Memorial Museum on October 30, 2018 in Auckland, New Zealand
Meghan, Duchess of Sussex attend the Auckland War Memorial Museum for a reception hosted by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on October 30, 2018 in Auckland, New Zealand
Meghan, Duchess of Sussex attends a reception at the Auckland War Memorial Museum with Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern on October 30, 2018 in Auckland, New Zealand
Meghan, Duchess of Sussex attends a reception at the Auckland War Memorial Museum with Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern on October 30, 2018 in Auckland, New Zealand
Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex arrive at the Auckland War Memorial Museum for a reception hosted by New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in Auckland on October 30, 2018
Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex arrive at the Auckland War Memorial Museum for a reception hosted by New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in Auckland on October 30, 2018
Britain's Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex attend a reception hosted by New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at the Auckland War Memorial Museum in Auckland on October 30, 2018
Meghan, Britain's Duchess of Sussex arrives for a reception hosted by New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at the Auckland War Memorial Museum in Auckland on October 30, 2018
New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern waits for the arrival of Britain's Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex at a reception at the Auckland War Memorial Museum in Auckland on October 30, 2018
Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex wait to meet New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, at Government House on October 28, 2018 in Wellington, New Zealand
Jacinda Ardern, daughter Neve, and partner Clarke Gayford. AP Photo
Harry and Meghan meet New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, at Government House in Wellington, New Zealand. Photo: Kirsty Wigglesworth/PA Wire
Caitlin McBride

Caitlin McBride

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern praised Meghan Markle for her perseverance during her 16-day royal tour with Prince Harry during her second trimester of pregnancy.

Britain's royal couple have been on a gruelling tour of Australia, Fiji, Tonga and are wrapping in New Zealand this week, where they will have completed more than 70 different appearances and engagements over the course of the trip. Ms Ardern is an international feminist icon, not only as one of world's most prominent female leaders, but also the fact that she famously gave birth to her first child earlier this year and said she was "pregnant, not incapacitated" in response to critics.

She said she received more unsolicited advice than she prepared for and therefore wouldn't be sharing too much information with the Duchess of Sussex during their conversations.

"I think because I received so much unsolicited advice, I don't know that I would be dishing too much of it out. Although I actually appreciated the advice that I got, a lot of it was really handy," she said.

Meghan, Britain's Duchess of Sussex arrives for a reception hosted by New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at the Auckland War Memorial Museum in Auckland on October 30, 2018
Meghan, Britain's Duchess of Sussex arrives for a reception hosted by New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at the Auckland War Memorial Museum in Auckland on October 30, 2018

"I don't think she's quite suffered some of the same issues that I had when I went to the Pacific. It’s just increased my respect for the role that she’s playing at such an often tiring time. I have real empathy and I think she’s incredible."

It's clear the burgeoning relationship between the pair is growing more and more solid as Ms Ardern reportedly gifted Meghan a pair of earrings from New Zealand-based designer Boh Runga, which feature a Huia feather design.

At the weekend, Meghan and Harry were invited to a function with 100 women from local communities fighting for women's rights, during which the former actress delivered a rousing speech on feminism.

Read more: 'From myself, my wife and our little bump' - Harry thanks crowds in New Zealand while Meghan shows thrifty side in ASOS dress

Harry and Meghan meet New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, at Government House in Wellington, New Zealand. Photo: Kirsty Wigglesworth/PA Wire
Harry and Meghan meet New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, at Government House in Wellington, New Zealand. Photo: Kirsty Wigglesworth/PA Wire

"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," she said.  "Because yes, women's suffrage is about feminism, but feminism is about fairness.

"Suffrage is not simply about the right to vote but also about what that represents: the basic and fundamental human right of being able to participate in the choices for your future and that of your commnity.

"The involvement and the voice that allows you to be a part of the very world you are a part of," she added.

"And women's suffrage is not simply about the right to vote for women, but also what that represents: the basic and fundamental human right of all people, including those members of society who have been marginalised whether for reasons of race, gender ethnicity or orientation, to be able to participate in the choices for their future and their community.

"So bravo New Zealand for championing this right 125 years ago... We all deeply thank you."

During last night's reception at the Auckland War Memorial Museum in Auckland, Ms Ardern said there's a "real connection" with the country and Harry and his older brother Prince William.

New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern waits for the arrival of Britain's Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex at a reception at the Auckland War Memorial Museum in Auckland on October 30, 2018
New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern waits for the arrival of Britain's Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex at a reception at the Auckland War Memorial Museum in Auckland on October 30, 2018

"There's a real connection between particularly William and Harry in recent years, so it's nice to have been able to host them in such close proximity."

New Zealand, like Australia, is a constitutional monarchy and as such the Queen is their head of state, represented by a governor-general.

Meghan finally recycled her first look, choosing to re-wear a navy asymmetric Antonio Berardi dress which she was pictured in last year, cheering on her then-boyfriend at the Audi Polo Challenge last May.

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