Getty ImagesChris Jackson
Meghan Markle arrived at the University of the South Pacific in a pink Figue dress for her first engagement of the royal tour’s second day in Fiji. The appearance came with a big royal first for her: Meghan got to make her first speech on the tour, speaking to college students there. Meghan, a graduate of Northwestern University, made candid remarks about the value of education, the cost of college, and how it personally affected her. (She also used the British expression of “attending university” rather than the American expression “attending college” or “attending a university.”)
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Royal reporter Omid Scobie posted the full video of her speech:
Here’s what she said:
It is a great privilege to be with all of you today. As a university graduate, I know the personal feeling of pride and excitement that comes with attending university, from the moment you receive the acceptance letter to exams you spend countless late nights studying for, the lifelong friendships you make with your fellow alumni to the moment that you receive your diploma.
The journey of higher education is an incredible, impactful, and pivotal one. I am also fully aware of the challenges of being able to afford this level of schooling for many people around the world, myself included. It was with scholarships, financial aid programs, and work study from my earnings from a job on campus that went directly towards my tuition that I was able to attend university, and without question it was worth every effort.
Everyone should be afforded the opportunity to receive education that they want but, more importantly, the education that they have the right to receive. And for women and girls in developing countries, this is vital. Providing them with access to education is the key to economic and social development, because when girls are given the right tools to succeed, they can create incredible futures—not only for themselves but for all of those around them. And while progress has been made in many areas across the Commonwealth, there’s always room to offer more opportunities to the next generation of young adults and specifically to young women.
The Association of Commonwealth Universities, which Her Majesty the Queen is patron of, supports universities to promote equality in their own institutions. So I am very pleased to announce today that two new grants will be awarded to Fiji National University and the University of the South Pacific, allowing each of them to run workshops which empower their female staff. This means that female faculty members are able to encourage others to follow in their footsteps and enter higher education, and that more women become part of the decision-making process in academic institutions. Grants like this will ensure that women are provided with the training and skills to operate effectively in their roles, and that those with leadership potential are given the opportunity to be heard and recognized at the most senior level.
It is wonderful to join you here today, and we look forward to learning more about your academic endeavors and the work you plan to do as future leaders and as change-makers. My husband Harry and I wish you all the very best of luck as you continue your studies and your work. Your efforts now will help to make a positive future for each of you and your communities at large. Congratulations to all of you.