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Prince Harry and Meghan’s 2018 tour was ‘stressful’ for staff and left one aide visibly upset

Prince Harry and Meghan's 2018 tour was 'stressful' for staff and left one aide visibly upset

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex on their official 16-day Autumn tour visiting cities in Australia, Fiji, Tonga and New Zealand – Chris Hyde/Getty Images AsiaPac

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s autumn 2018 tour of Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and Tonga was “stressful” for staff, with at least one aide visibly upset after a discussion with the Duchess.

One engagement in particular has long been shrouded in mystery, with no credible explanation given as to why the Duchess was abruptly whisked from a market in Fiji’s capital Suva, cutting short the visit.

At the time, even palace aides appeared confused about what had happened, with a succession of contradictory briefings.

The engagement was organised to allow Meghan to learn more about a UN Women’s project called Markets for Change, which promotes women’s empowerment in marketplaces throughout the Pacific.

Sources have now claimed that the Duchess was upset when she saw branding for UN Women, an organisation she had worked with before.

Meghan had allegedly said she would only go to the market if there was no branding for the organisation, a source told the Times, although the reason behind it is unknown.

The Duchess of Sussex is escorted through a market in Suva, Fiji - Ian Vogler /PA

The Duchess of Sussex is escorted through a market in Suva, Fiji – Ian Vogler /PA

The Duchess’s lawyers said she had met other leaders from UN Women later in the tour and denied that was the reason why she had left. A source close to the Sussexes also insisted this was not true.

It had been a hot, humid day and hundreds of locals were waiting for the Duchess, who was pregnant with Archie, cheering and taking photographs from behind low barriers.

Two female entrepreneurs had been lined up to speak to Meghan and hand her homemade gifts.

The Duchess was alone for the short visit, which was only scheduled to last around 15 minutes, as Prince Harry unveiled the Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy project in nearby Colo-i-Suva.

As she arrived, Meghan and her aides walked the clear pathway between the crowds. It was busy but well organised and the stallholders and onlookers remained behind the barriers.

Those present say that for whatever reason, she did not stop and talk to the stallholders, as planned.

After around eight minutes, the Duchess whispered in the ear of her female bodyguard and was suddenly rushed out of the market and into her waiting car, where one aide was seen looking very upset.

Kensington Palace immediately faced questions as to who made the decision to leave and why.

In the immediate aftermath, aides appeared as confused as everyone else who had been present.

They first suggested that it had been too hot and overcrowded for the pregnant Duchess, that she had perhaps felt ill and needed to leave.

It was later claimed that security had been too lax, although those present disputed that and said previous engagements in Australia had been much more chaotic.

There was discomfort in some quarters that locals were being blamed as the crowds, while as excited and noisy as always on royal engagements, were thought to have been well organised and respectful.

There was no pushing or shoving and the walkways remained clear, with plenty of visible security.

Another bone of contention during the tour was Kensington Palace’s refusal to reveal who had given the Duchess the earrings she wore to a formal dinner in Fiji.

The Duchess of Sussex leaves Kensington Palace to attend Prince Charles' 70th birthday party at Buckingham Palace  - Max Mumby/Indigo /Getty Images Europe 

The Duchess of Sussex leaves Kensington Palace to attend Prince Charles’ 70th birthday party at Buckingham Palace – Max Mumby/Indigo /Getty Images Europe

Such information is usually released without hesitation, an acknowledgement that there is always interest in the fashions choices made by members of the Royal Family.

It has now been claimed that the Chopard earrings were a wedding gift from Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia, who is accused of ordering the murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi that had taken place just three weeks earlier.

At the time, palace aides were allegedly instructed to tell the media that the chandelier earrings were “borrowed” but unusually, declined to offer further information or guidance.

Lawyers for the Duchess told The Times that she had not misled anyone about their provenance.

She wore the earrings again in November 2018, at the Prince of Wales’s 70th birthday party at Buckingham Palace.

About the author

Erin Clark

Erin is a sports enthusiast who loves indulging in occasional football matches. She is a passionate journalist who flaunts a perfect hold over the English language. She currently caters her skills for the sports and health section of Report Door.

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