On their wedding day, the Queen conferred a dukedom on Prince Harry as a wedding gift. Harry is the 2nd Duke of Sussex. The first duke was Prince Augustus Frederick, sixth son of King George III and Queen Charlotte. The dukedom, conferred on Augustus Frederick in November 1801, became extinct when he died 42 years later because he had no legitimate issue. During his life he campaigned for the abolition of slavery. Meghan is the first Duchess of Sussex.
The news was met with delight by royalists and officials in Sussex. Now, four and a half months later, the couple are beginning what promises to be a lifelong relationship with the area. Organisers were informed today's visit would mark "the first of many" in the coming years. "Their intention is to really get to know the county." The pair are said to be eager to get to know the people, organisations and issues at the heart of Sussex.
Peter Field, Lord-Lieutenant of East Sussex told the Eastbourne Herald:
"Ever since their wedding day the people of Sussex have been eagerly awaiting news of when the new Duke and Duchess of Sussex will visit and it was a great pleasure for me when I heard that they were coming and I was asked to help organise the visit. "There is no doubt that since Her Majesty the Queen gave them the title of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex on their wedding day, at a ceremony watched by over two billion people worldwide, that most people in the world are now aware of the beautiful counties of East and West Sussex and how beautiful they are.
"I am aware that visitor numbers have already increased, and I know that many businesses are now taking advantage of the additional publicity. "In times of economic restraint we all need something to cheer us up and the visit this week is no exception. "Their Royal Highnesses I know are keen to develop their relationship with the county and have indicated their intention is to visit regularly.'
The packed day began with a visit to Edes House, located at the heart of Chichester, which is the county town of West Sussex.
Before engagements commenced, it was time for a walkabout.
There were huge cheers when they arrived, Meghan was greeted with a hug.
A sea of flags.
The Mail reports:
'Royal superfan Zoe McManus, 33, said she could not put into words how happy she was that she had met the royal couple in her home town. Draped in a Union flag banner with a picture of the pair on it and wearing a similarly styled hat, she said: 'I'm so happy. I met Harry and told him I was proud of him and I loved him lots.
'He joked and said he liked my hat. I think they are great because they are our generation. I love them. It is great the work they are doing for mental health. I think they are great.' One seven year old told Meghan he had been 'waiting for her since before school time', to which the Duchess softly replied 'well, I am so grateful, it is so lovely to meet you'.
Local resident Sally Harper, 56, who shook hands with Meghan said: 'They are just the loveliest couple, we feel very proud to have them come to our county which is of course their county too and to see them spend so much time with all the children is very special, we love them.'
Harry and Meghan met a group of youngsters who had prepared a guide to Sussex for them.
They were very excited to meet the couple.
More from the Mail Online:
'Meghan was first to encounter the youngsters, smart in their red and grey uniforms, and said she wanted to shake each one's hand individually and find out their names. 'So, why aren't you in school,' she said. 'Are you on a school trip?' She was handed the guide by Alex Witcombe and George Baker, both ten. 'Oh my goodness, guys, thank you, that's very cool. It's an A- to Zee (pronounced the American way).'We thought we would tell you some great places to go when you are in Sussex,' explained their head of year Charlotte Sleep. 'Please do come again, we love having you.'
Harry immediately spotted the youngsters and exclaimed: 'You've got a very, very similar school uniform to the one I had when I was at Wetherby School in London, all those years ago. Are you on a school trip?' 'Sort of,' said one of the boys. 'Sort of,' exclaimed Harry, 'who is your teacher?''We've come to see you,' their teacher, Mrs Sleep, explained. Harry stretched out his arm to shake hands, prompting Mrs Sleep to squeal: 'I'm not letting go!''Um, please let go,' he replied, pulling a comedy face. 'Is this like a maths lesson or a field trip?'
Harry chatting with the group.
Meghan received a lovely bunch of flowers from a little girl.
Meeting another group of schoolchildren.
A very nice video from the walkabout.
Harry and Meghan were shown the rare Sussex copy of the American Declaration of Independence.
The Mirror reports: "When handed a copy of the Sussex Declaration which has been specially prepared for her, the Duchess said: “Oh my goodness, that’s great, thank you so much, that’s really special thank you”. On behalf of the records office, Mrs Walker also presented Meghan with a copy of the book ‘Roots of America’, an anthology of the documents relating to American history kept in the West Sussex records office."
The Sussex Declaration is one of only two contemporary handwritten ceremonial manuscript copies, the other being the signed copy housed in the National Archives in Washington DC. The engagement tied in very nicely with Meghan's roots.
How was a copy of the declaration discovered in Sussex? A 2017 Telegraph story reveals:
'Researchers from Harvard University were shocked to unearth the manuscript while compiling a database of later reproductions of the declaration. The only other parchment manuscript copy is kept in the National Archives in Washington DC. According to the researchers, staff at the West Sussex Record Office, in Chichester, had not taken a particular interest in the copy, which was produced ten years after the declaration, before the team from Harvard got in touch. They are now said to be “working on a valuation”.
Danielle Allen, a Harvard professor, said the manuscript had been kept “folded up” until the university contacted the office. “They had not dated it and they did not know what they had,” she told The Telegraph. “There are lots of later reproductions floating around. The assumption was probably there are lots of copies so this one didn’t stand out. It was news to them to discover what a special document this was.” Prof Allen said it was “super surprising” to discover such a “very precious item” tucked away in a local record office. “We want to celebrate them for having preserved it for the last 50 years,” she added.'
Edes House was built at the end of the 17th century for local maltster John Edes, and his wife Hannah, and now has Grade 1 listed status and has been carefully restored. Today, the Georgian mansion is a popular wedding and corporate venue with exquisitely decorated rooms.
They signed the visitors' book.
Edes House shared this beautiful photo of the couple departing.
Next, the Duke and Duchess travelled along the coast to Bognor Regis where they officially opened the University of Chichester's Engineering and Digital Technology Park.
The cutting-edge Technology Park has been designed to offer practical experiences in partnership with local industry. The couple joined an animation workshop, one of the many areas at the University working to transform the way STEM subjects are taught by combining science and engineering with the creative technologies.
In the Production Theatre, the University Chamber orchestra are rehearsing Vivaldi's Four Seasons.
Emily Andrews reports: Animation Students Joe and Kieran were very taken with Duchess Meghan. "She’s hot!" said Kieran. "I expected the royals to be stereotypically upright and cold, but she was very friendly and relaxed. Harry also seemed very chilled."
They donned tech goggles during the visit.
From there, Harry and Meghan travelled along the coast to the vibrant seaside city of Brighton and Hove in East Sussex.
As in Chichester, locals turned out in force.
The royal pair spent quite a lot of time meeting as many people as possible.
Meghan told a group of children her favourite subject at school was math.
The Duke and Duchess visited the iconic Royal Pavilion.
Starting its life in the mid 1780s, the Royal Pavilion was built by George, Prince of Wales, who later became the Prince Regent. The Duke and Duchess toured several of the pavilion's rooms, learning more about the building's history and the impact that it had on the social development of Brighton in the 18th century.
During George IV’s reign, the Pavilion functioned as a place at which he could escape from London and the stiff formality of life there. At Brighton he could enjoy his favourite things: music concerts, balls and banquets. In the 15 years following his death in 1830, Brighton Pavilion was used as a residence by both William IV (1765–1837) and Queen Victoria (1819–1901). Below, the Pavilion in 1920.
Listen to the cheers.
Next, they walked to Survivors' Network, a charity that supports survivors of sexual violence and abuse in Sussex. The Duke and Duchess had the opportunity to talk to service users, volunteers and staff.
Survivors' Network was established in 1990 by a group of female survivors of childhood sexual abuse to provide services that would support other female survivors of childhood sexual abuse. Since then, they have grown to an organisation that now offers a range of professional relevant services to survivors of any gender aged 14+ who have experienced any form of sexual violence. They are contacted by 1500 people each year, a number that's growing.
The network commissioned a drawing to give Harry and Meghan as a gift. Drawing of Dogs drew Meghan's dog Guy talking about dismantling the patriarchy. When Meghan received the drawing she revealed their second dog, rumoured to be a black Labrador is in fact a girl. "They keep getting her name wrong". We can safely assume the pet is not named Oz as previously reported :)
Rebecca English reports:
'The couple were also given badges by the same artist, Henry James Garrett, saying: 'You have a superpower and it's called empathy.' The duchess said: 'I love that! This is really special - thank you.'
During the meeting the couple met survivors of sexual abuse, both male and female, as well as volunteers from the Survivors' Network and Mankind, a group for men. They included Patrick Sandford, 66, a theatre director who lives in north London and has written a play, Groomed, about his own experiences.
'I was abused as a child in a state primary school in Kent by my teacher for a year. I didn't talk about it at the time, I found it confusing, bewildering. It was horrible. I moved to another school after a year and was able to bury it. But the psychological effects were lasting. I felt very bad. My self esteem was very low. It was only when he was in his mid-fifties that he decided to write about it. 'I had to talk about it. So I wrote a play. It has been performed in London and at the Brighton Festival, where it won three prizes. It is now being filmed.'
Travelling further east, Harry and Meghan's final engagement of the day was a visit to JOFF Youth Centre in the coastal town of Peacehaven.
The centre is a community hub that offers a range of positive activities, a ‘chill out’ area and music practice room.
At the centre, the Duke and Duchess met young people from youth groups across East Sussex to hear their strategic plans and priorities around mental health and emotional wellbeing. Their discussions are part of Takeover Challenge day, which is a national initiative that encourages organisations to put young people into real life decision-making positions.
During a chat about mental health, Meghan spoke about the importance of opening up. "There's no right or wrong answer". Harry introduced himself during a conversation on mental health. "My name is Harry. I have two dogs and a lovely American wife". :)
The couple posed for a group photo.
A terrific first visit to Sussex!
The Duchess selected an array of pieces from several brands for her first visit to Sussex.
Meghan wore the Emporio Armani Cashmere Double Cloth Coat with Classic Lapels. The sold out piece is described as a "timeless coat, perfect for completing your season's look with casual elegance."
Meghan teamed the coat with the dark green Straight Fit Silk Shirt from & Other Stories. The shirt features a thin collar and a slightly longer back, giving it a "modern and versatile" appeal. It retails for $99 here.
The Duchess wore the forest green Hugo Boss leather pencil skirt with panelled structure.
Meghan's gorgeous new emerald bag is the Gabriela Hearst Demi Satin Tote.
The $1,995 bag is described as: "A smaller version of Gabriela Heart's cult 'Nina' bag, this style is named after Demi Moore and shaped like a fortune-cookie. It's been made in Italy from lustrous emerald satin that's backed with leather to preserve the sculptural shape." It's available at Net-A-Porter.
Meghan wore several pieces of jewellery today beginning with the Adina Reyter Pavé Teardrop Necklace.
Meghan's new ring is the £85 Missoma Manta Open Heart Signet Ring. The Duchess also wore her Catbird stacking rings.
Three Missoma bracelets completed the accessories.
The 18ct Gold Vermeil Double Chain Bracelet, the Gold Leaf bracelet and the Gold Plated Rainbow Moonstone Beaded Leaf Bracelet.
Meghan's pumps are by Stuart Weitzman.
It really does take a village when it comes to identifying royal style sometimes. A very big thank you to Perth Fashion, What Meghan Wore, Meghan's Fashion Heaven, Meghan Maven and Meghan's Mirror for their work today.
I expect we'll see the full tour itinerary by Friday at the very latest.