Duchess Meghan makes surprise visit to Johannesburg creative hub – wearing a Canadian label!

By Zach Harper

Duchess Meghan has been doing quite a lot while Prince Harry has been in Botswana, Angola and Malawi! We last saw the Duchess of Sussex when she Skyped in to one of the Duke’s events in Malawi over the weekend, and on Sept. 30, she stepped out to make a very special visit in Johannesburg!

Meghan, who was spotted in Cape Town’s airport on Sept. 28, boarding a flight to Johannesburg with Archie in her arms, took some time to visit the Victoria Yards creative hub after she’d spent a few days in the city. The new mom looked gorgeous in orange slingbacks by Everlane and a navy blue button-up midi dress by Canadian label Aritzia as she walked with through the space.

Meghan, who lived in Canada while she was filming Suits, loves Aritzia and it has long been one of her go-to Canadian brands. Meghan likes the label so much that she's also inspired Princess Beatrice to don some of their looks!

Victoria Yards is a hub home to a dozen artists including painter, printmaker and sculptor James Delaney, who shared some images of Meghan’s visit on Twitter on Sept. 30. James won a Business Arts South Africa Award for unique sculptures he and his team created for The Wilds, an inner city park and municipal nature reserve in Johannesburg that had fallen into decline in the early 2000s due to an increase in crime there. James decided to change this in 2012 and worked with a group of people to de-weed and clear brush. The team also made a series of metal owl sculptures for The Wilds and he is also one of the artists who has turned Victoria Yards into hotspot for creativity and innovation.

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While in Johannesburg today, The Duchess of Sussex visited Victoria Yards, which celebrates the power of community, bringing local artisans and “makers” together to rebuild, support and learn from each other on a holistic level. It was an exceptional afternoon where The Duchess had the chance to connect with the children and founders of the phenomenal programme for kids’ development Timbuktu in The Valley. She was also struck by the local denim designer who founded eponymous brand Tshepo who shared this info about the logo for his line: “The crown on my jeans represents the three ladies who raised me. Enjoy wearing this crown.” Such a beautiful and touching sentiment! Artists, artisans, sculptors, metal workers and carpenters are all part of the fabric of Victoria Yards, but it also utilizes the power of The DICE programme which supports several other local organisations in their work with marginalised youth and women. These include: 94 Colours (run by The Duchess’ guides for the day, Hector and Sibusiso), CDP (a development programme for young unemployed and marginalised women that provides training to start creative enterprises), Enke (rebuilds the confidence and self-belief of unemployed youth through training and practical experience), 26’10 South (an architecture firm designing a local youth centre) and ReimagiNation (works with local secondary school students to create a social and creative enterprising mindset). Stay tuned for more updates from this special afternoon... #RoyalVisitSouthAfrica

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Pictures posted to the SussexRoyal Instagram account show Meghan hugging several children while she visited the Victoria Yards. Meghan was there to connect with the founders of the Timbuktu in the Valley project, which teaches children things such as gardening, art, swimming, baking and cooking. The name harkens back to the site of the first university in Africa – and in the world – Sankore University, founded in Timbuktu in what is now Mali in 13 BCE. The project’s goal, according to a GoFundMe set up to assist it, is to “exposure children to options that enable possible careers later in life, reach their true essence and explore methods to generate a sustainable income.”

Meghan was also impressed by the space being used for other organizations that work with “marginalized yough and women,” according to the SussexRoyal Instagram post. The post states “more updates” are coming from Meghan’s afternoon at Victoria Hubs, and we can’t wait to see what might come out of that. We know much of Meghan’s work involves projects with children, youth and girls, especially those who are marginalized or face barriers in their lives, so we’re excited to see what she will share at a later date!

Meghan had a meeting with South African women's rights activists, leaders and policymakers on Sept. 26 before she left Cape Town. Photo: © Instagram/@SussexRoyal

Before she left Cape Town, Meghan held a private meeting with South African women’s rights leaders and activists at the British High Commissioner’s office on Sept. 26. The same day, she stepped out to leave a ribbon at the site of the murder of South African student Uyinene Mrwetyana, who was brutally killed earlier this month and whose death has prompted outrage throughout South Africa.

Meghan then made a surprise appearance by Skyping in to Harry’s engagement in Lilongwe, Malawi on Sept. 29. The duo were very keen to reconnect with the Campaign for Female Education and learn about how the organization is helping girls and women to attend secondary school in sub-Saharan Africa.

PHOTOS: The best pictures from Duchess Meghan and Prince Harry’s royal tour of southern Africa

Harry returns to South Africa later this week, and he and Meghan will step out for several joint engagements on Oct. 2 before their tour wraps. Prior to that, Meghan will spend Oct. 1 attending several solo engagements of her own, where she’ll continue to highlight the rights of girls and women.

MORE: Full coverage of Duchess Meghan and Prince Harry’s royal tour of southern Africa

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