Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have revealed an unexpected upshot to their time spent in isolation during the coronavirus pandemic, saying they feel ‘fortunate’ for the extra time with baby Archie.
Appearing in a virtual interview with education activist and terror attack survivor Malala Yousafzai on the International Day of the Girl for her education organisation the Malala Fund, the pair discussed the importance of education for women across the world, and the impacts the pandemic was having on that access.
Harry and Meghan ‘fortunate’ to have family time during COVID
Between talking about their own experiences of education, and their hopes for future generations, the pair were also asked by the 23-year-old Oxford graduate how they had spent their time during the lockdown, prompting a funny, and sweet response.
“On Zoom!” Harry laughed.
“On Zoom calls!” Meghan agreed, adding: “But outside of that with our little one.”
“We were both there for Archie's first steps, his first run, his first fall, everything,” Harry continued.
Meghan went on to reflect that their family had been somewhat fortunate to experience the pandemic together.
“It's just fantastic and in so many ways we are fortunate to have this time to watch him grow,” Meghan said. “In the absence of COVID, we would be travelling and working more externally and we'd have missed a lot of those moments.”
“These are really special moments, but at the same time, as Meghan says, we have been working really, really hard,” Harry added.
Malala’s COVID education heartbreak
Mala revealed her own experience of COVID had been less positive, revealing she had missed out on graduating in person from her degree at Oxford, a bitter pill for the woman who was shot by the Taliban at just 15 years old over her refusal to give up her right to an education in her home country of Pakistan.
Malala recovered from the shot to the head, and became an international icon of education activism, becoming a co-recipient the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014, and the youngest-ever Nobel laureate at 17.
Now, she operates the Malala Fund alongside her father, Ziauddin Yousafzai where she fundraises and speaks out about women’s education.
“It was a very difficult time,” Malala told the royal duo of her virtual graduation. “I graduated at home, I took my exams at home. It was very difficult not to be in college anymore and not to be with friends. Not to have those traditional ceremonies.”
The activist added she still considers herself ‘blessed’ to have been able to experience her education at home, reflecting that millions were at risk of losing their education because of the global situation.
“You know, there are 130 million girls out of school but an additional 20 million are at risk of dropping out because of the pandemic,” she said.
“They are at risk of never being able to return to their schools because they are likely to be pushed into early child marriages, or they might become the breadwinners or financial supporters of their families.
“So I am more worried about those girls right now, and I think this pandemic is a crisis in the sector of education, and we need to focus on investment in education right now.”
Meghan, seeming deeply moved by the statement agreed wholeheartedly.
“What you say is so important for people to remember, it's not just robbing a society from the cultural richness that comes from educating young girls and allowing the opportunity to develop into strong, educated women, it's also robbing these young girls of a childhood,” she said.
Harry and Meghan reveal their ‘privileged’ education
Harry and Meghan also took time to reflect on their own experiences of education, Harry of course treated to the very best of British education between his schooling at Eton and his military training at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst.
Harry revealed he had probably taken his education ‘for granted’, but said on reflection he realises he was ugly privileged.
“It is a privilege but every single person, every single young person across the world needs an education,” he said
“To know there are 113 million girls out of education, the numbers only going to go up, it worries me and probably worried all of us, the effect of that has not only on the family but also on society as well.”
As for Meghan, she agreed that education is often taken for granted, revealing she was able to access both secondary and tertiary education, something she is grateful for.
“In terms of education, not only did I have the ability to go to school at a young age but I also went to university,” she told Malala.
“Having the privilege to be able to go to school is something that oftentimes is taken from granted,” she continued. “It's very difficult for a lot of people to recognise that just the ability to have a schoolbook is a luxury for so many people.”
Meghan went on to ask how the pair could support Malala’s efforts to promote education worldwide, with Malala responding that the global pandemic had turned the education gap into a ‘crisis’, urging viewers to support local educators and activists.
“Covid has made things worse,” she revealed. “This is an emergency right now, it's a crisis right now. We have to make sure we do not ignore the issue of girl's education.
“It's really important we keep on pushing for this.”