Meghan Markle tells South Africa: I'm here with you 'as a woman of color'

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry stepped out Monday on the first stop of their royal trip to South Africa, where the former “Suits” actress issued a powerful call against gender-based violence. 

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, who have a massive itinerary planned for the day, headed out in Cape Town after arriving earlier in the day with their son, Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor. Archie didn’t accompany the couple on their first stop.

The duke and duchess visited the Justice Desk, an NGO with a presence in South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Zambia that aims to “educate, train, advocate for and equip youth, vulnerable groups, civil society, and governments in human rights, justice and advocacy,” according to a statement on its website. 

While at the Justice Desk, the royals hugged and danced with the children in Nygana township, and Meghan gave a moving message condemning gender-based violence. 

“We are encouraged to hear your president take the next step towards preventing gender-based violence through education and necessary changes to reinforce the values of modern South Africa,” the duchess said. “I have to say, I feel incredibly humble to be in the presence of all of you as you stand firm in your core values of respect, dignity, and equality.” 

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Prince Harry and Meghan Markle touch down in Cape Town
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Prince Harry and Meghan Markle touch down in Cape Town
CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA - SEPTEMBER 23: Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex visit the Nyanga Township during their royal tour of South Africa on September 23, 2019 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)
CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA - SEPTEMBER 23: Meghan, Duchess of Sussex dances as she visits a Justice Desk initiative in Nyanga township, with Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, during their royal tour of South Africa on September 23, 2019 in Cape Town, South Africa. The Justice Desk initiative teaches children about their rights and provides self-defence classes and female empowerment training to young girls in the community. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA - SEPTEMBER 23: Meghan, Duchess of Sussex dances as she visits a Justice Desk initiative in Nyanga township, with Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, during their royal tour of South Africa on September 23, 2019 in Cape Town, South Africa. The Justice Desk initiative teaches children about their rights and provides self-defence classes and female empowerment training to young girls in the community. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA - SEPTEMBER 23: Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex visit the Nyanga Township during their royal tour of South Africa on September 23, 2019 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)
CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA - SEPTEMBER 23: Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex visits the Nyanga Township during their royal tour of South Africa on September 23, 2019 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)
CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA - SEPTEMBER 23: Meghan, Duchess of Sussex and Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex smile as they visit a Justice Desk initiative in Nyanga township, during their royal tour of South Africa on September 23, 2019 in Cape Town, South Africa. The Justice Desk initiative teaches children about their rights and provides self-defence classes and female empowerment training to young girls in the community. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA - SEPTEMBER 23: Meghan, Duchess of Sussex and Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex smile as they visit a Justice Desk initiative in Nyanga township, during their royal tour of South Africa on September 23, 2019 in Cape Town, South Africa. The Justice Desk initiative teaches children about their rights and provides self-defence classes and female empowerment training to young girls in the community. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA - SEPTEMBER 23: Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex visit the Nyanga Township during their royal tour of South Africa on September 23, 2019 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)
CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA - SEPTEMBER 23: Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex visit the Nyanga Township during their royal tour of South Africa on September 23, 2019 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)
CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA - SEPTEMBER 23: Meghan, Duchess of Sussex and Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex smile as they visit a Justice Desk initiative in Nyanga township, during their royal tour of South Africa on September 23, 2019 in Cape Town, South Africa. The Justice Desk initiative teaches children about their rights and provides self-defence classes and female empowerment training to young girls in the community. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA - SEPTEMBER 23: Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex visits the Nyanga Township during their royal tour of South Africa on September 23, 2019 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)
CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA - SEPTEMBER 23: Meghan, Duchess of Sussex makes a speech as she visits a Justice Desk initiative in Nyanga township with Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, during their royal tour of South Africa on September 23, 2019 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo by Samir Hussein/WireImage)
CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA - SEPTEMBER 23: Meghan, Duchess of Sussex dances as she visits a Justice Desk initiative in Nyanga township, with Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, during their royal tour of South Africa on September 23, 2019 in Cape Town, South Africa. The Justice Desk initiative teaches children about their rights and provides self-defence classes and female empowerment training to young girls in the community. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA - SEPTEMBER 23: Meghan, Duchess of Sussex makes a speech as she visits a Justice Desk initiative in Nyanga township, with Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, during their royal tour of South Africa on September 23, 2019 in Cape Town, South Africa. The Justice Desk initiative teaches children about their rights and provides self-defence classes and female empowerment training to young girls in the community. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA - SEPTEMBER 23: Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex smile as they watch dancers during their visit to a Justice Desk initiative in Nyanga township, on their royal tour of South Africa on September 23, 2019 in Cape Town, South Africa. The Justice Desk initiative teaches children about their rights and provides self-defence classes and female empowerment training to young girls in the community. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA - SEPTEMBER 23: Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex smile as they watch dancers during their visit to a Justice Desk initiative in Nyanga township, on their royal tour of South Africa on September 23, 2019 in Cape Town, South Africa. The Justice Desk initiative teaches children about their rights and provides self-defence classes and female empowerment training to young girls in the community. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA - SEPTEMBER 23: Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex smile as they watch dancers during their visit to a Justice Desk initiative in Nyanga township, on their royal tour of South Africa on September 23, 2019 in Cape Town, South Africa. The Justice Desk initiative teaches children about their rights and provides self-defence classes and female empowerment training to young girls in the community. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA - SEPTEMBER 23: Meghan, Duchess of Sussex and Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex dance during a visit to The Justice Desk on September 30, 2019 in Cape Town, South Africa. The Justice Desk initiative teaches children about their rights and provides self-defence classes and female empowerment training to young girls in the community. (Photo by Ian Vogler - Pool/Getty Images)
CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA - SEPTEMBER 23: Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex visit a Justice Desk initiative, a workshop that teaches children about their rights, self-awareness and safety, in Nyanga township, during their royal tour of South Africa on September 23, 2019 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo by Samir Hussein/WireImage)
CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA - SEPTEMBER 23: Meghan, Duchess of Sussex and Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex laugh during a visit to The Justice Desk on September 30, 2019 in Cape Town, South Africa. The Justice Desk initiative teaches children about their rights and provides self-defence classes and female empowerment training to young girls in the community. (Photo by Ian Vogler - Pool/Getty Images)
CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA - SEPTEMBER 23: Meghan, Duchess of Sussex and Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex laugh as Jessica Dewhurst, Justice Desk Founder (R) makes a joke as they visit a Justice Desk initiative in Nyanga township, during their royal tour of South Africa on September 23, 2019 in Cape Town, South Africa. The Justice Desk initiative teaches children about their rights and provides self-defence classes and female empowerment training to young girls in the community. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA - SEPTEMBER 23: Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex with a young wellwisher as the Duke and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex visit a Justice Desk initiative in Nyanga township, during their royal tour of South Africa on September 23, 2019 in Cape Town, South Africa. The Justice Desk initiative teaches children about their rights and provides self-defence classes and female empowerment training to young girls in the community. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA - SEPTEMBER 23: Meghan, Duchess of Sussex speaks with a wellwisher as she visits a Justice Desk initiative in Nyanga township, with Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, during their royal tour of South Africa on September 23, 2019 in Cape Town, South Africa. The Justice Desk initiative teaches children about their rights and provides self-defence classes and female empowerment training to young girls in the community. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA - SEPTEMBER 23: Meghan, Duchess of Sussex and Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex smiles as they visit a Justice Desk initiative in Nyanga township, during their royal tour of South Africa on September 23, 2019 in Cape Town, South Africa. The Justice Desk initiative teaches children about their rights and provides self-defence classes and female empowerment training to young girls in the community. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA - SEPTEMBER 23: Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex meet a young wellwisher as they visit a Justice Desk initiative, a workshop that teaches children about their rights, self-awareness and safety, in Nyanga township, during their royal tour of South Africa on September 23, 2019 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo by Samir Hussein/WireImage)
CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA - SEPTEMBER 23: Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex with a young wellwisher as the Duke and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex visit a Justice Desk initiative in Nyanga township, during their royal tour of South Africa on September 23, 2019 in Cape Town, South Africa. The Justice Desk initiative teaches children about their rights and provides self-defence classes and female empowerment training to young girls in the community. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA - SEPTEMBER 23: Meghan, Duchess of Sussex and Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex with Jessica Dewhurst, Justice Desk Founder (R) as they visit a Justice Desk initiative in Nyanga township, during their royal tour of South Africa on September 23, 2019 in Cape Town, South Africa. The Justice Desk initiative teaches children about their rights and provides self-defence classes and female empowerment training to young girls in the community. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA - SEPTEMBER 23: Meghan, Duchess of Sussex receives a hug from a young wellwisher as she visits a Justice Desk initiative in Nyanga township, with Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, during their royal tour of South Africa on September 23, 2019 in Cape Town, South Africa. The Justice Desk initiative teaches children about their rights and provides self-defence classes and female empowerment training to young girls in the community. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA - SEPTEMBER 23: Meghan, Duchess of Sussex and Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex with Jessica Dewhurst, Justice Desk Founder (R) as they visit a Justice Desk initiative in Nyanga township, during their royal tour of South Africa on September 23, 2019 in Cape Town, South Africa. The Justice Desk initiative teaches children about their rights and provides self-defence classes and female empowerment training to young girls in the community. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA - SEPTEMBER 23: Meghan, Duchess of Sussex visits a Justice Desk initiative in Nyanga township, with Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, during their royal tour of South Africa on September 23, 2019 in Cape Town, South Africa. The Justice Desk initiative teaches children about their rights and provides self-defence classes and female empowerment training to young girls in the community. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA - SEPTEMBER 23: Meghan, Duchess of Sussex and Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex with Jessica Dewhurst, Justice Desk Founder (R) and young wellwishers as they visit a Justice Desk initiative in Nyanga township, during their royal tour of South Africa on September 23, 2019 in Cape Town, South Africa. The Justice Desk initiative teaches children about their rights and provides self-defence classes and female empowerment training to young girls in the community. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA - SEPTEMBER 23: Meghan, Duchess of Sussex and Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex visit a Justice Desk initiative in Nyanga township, during their royal tour of South Africa on September 23, 2019 in Cape Town, South Africa. The Justice Desk initiative teaches children about their rights and provides self-defence classes and female empowerment training to young girls in the community. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA - SEPTEMBER 23: Meghan, Duchess of Sussex and Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex with Jessica Dewhurst, Justice Desk Founder (R) and young wellwishers as they visit a Justice Desk initiative in Nyanga township, during their royal tour of South Africa on September 23, 2019 in Cape Town, South Africa. The Justice Desk initiative teaches children about their rights and provides self-defence classes and female empowerment training to young girls in the community. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA - SEPTEMBER 23: Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex visit a workshop that teaches children about their rights, self-awareness and safety during their royal tour of South Africa on September 23, 2019 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo by Samir Hussein/WireImage)
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The duchess commended those in her audience for their commitment to shining their “light brightly” for others in the community. 

“On one personal note, may I just say that while I am here with my husband, as a member of the royal family, I want you to know that for me, I am here with you as a mother, as a wife, as a woman, as a woman of color and as your sister,” Meghan said as the crowd erupted in applause and cheers, according to video captured by Hello! royals reporter Emily Nash.

“I am here with you, and I am here for you,” she added. 

Meghan wore a black and white, wrap maxi dress for the occasion by the Malawhi-based brand Mayamiko, according to People. 

Harry, who wore what looked like a linen shirt with navy slacks and athletic shoes, will visit Malawi, Angola and Botswana by himself later in the trip. 

Buckingham Palace announced the royal couple’s trip in June, confirming longstanding rumors. The Sussexes later posted how “excited” they were for the trip on their Sussex Royal Instagram page. 

“The Duke and Duchess are really looking forward to meeting so many of you on the ground and continuing to raise awareness of the high impact work local communities are doing across the commonwealth and beyond,” read the Instagram caption, which also announced that little Archie would along for the trip. 

Prior to heading to South Africa, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex were in Rome for the wedding of their close friend, designer Misha Noono’s, to oil tycoon Mike Hess. 

Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner, Joshua Kushner and Karlie Kloss also attended the wedding, alongside fellow guests James Corden, Orlando Bloom, Katy Perry, Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie.  

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  • This article originally appeared on HuffPost.
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