Meghan, Harry start whirlwind tour of Morocco

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are coming to the end of an official three-day visit to Morocco, days after Meghan celebrated her baby shower in New York.

The royal couple landed at Casablanca Airport on a commercial flight from London on Saturday evening, ahead of a whirlwind visit aimed at boosting ties between the UK and the North African nation.

Harry and Meghan received a guard of honor on arrival, with all eyes on the Duchess’ baby bump. They were greeted by officials including Britain’s ambassador to Morocco, Thomas Reilly, but were two hours late due to delays to their departure.

The pair were hosted by King Mohammed VI in a royal palace, and were greeted at the residence by 15-year-old Crown Prince Moulay Hassan after being driven to Rabat in a motorcade. They were offered dates and milk with orange blossom upon their arrival, a tradition often witnessed at Moroccan weddings.

The visit, the couple’s first to the North African nation, has focused on promoting gender equality. Reilly described it as “hugely exciting,” and Kensington Palace said prior to the tour that the royal couple were particularly excited about the “opportunity to meet so many young Moroccans.”

A running theme of the trip has been women’s empowerment, with the pair visiting a boarding school for girls in the Atlas Mountains as well as a cookery school for underprivileged kids.

Kensington Palace also said on Twitter that the tour was an opportunity to showcase “work being done to promote girls’ education, empower young people and support children from disadvantaged backgrounds.”

Harry and Meghan visited the town of Asni Sunday, where they met students at a local school and learned about the Moroccan NGO Education for All, which builds boarding houses for girls aged 12 to 18. The charity ensures that “girls from rural communities in the High Atlas Mountains region are able to access secondary education,” according to a statement from Kensington Palace.

They met the NGO’s founder, Michael McHugo — who received an MBE in Britain’s New Year Honours list for his work promoting gender equality in education in Morocco — after which Meghan took part in a traditional henna ceremony.

On Monday — the final day of the tour — the couple are set to learn about the country’s development of equine therapy to treat and support children with special needs and visit a cooking school for children from underprivileged backgrounds.

They also toured Rabat’s spectacular Andalusian Gardens.

Later Monday, the Duke and Duchess will meet with King Mohammed VI — their first meeting with the monarch.

The visit is intended to strengthen ties between the two nations, as the UK seeks to bolster trade relations with countries outside the European Union after Brexit.

However, concerns have been raised about the security of the visit, after riots broke out last week in Rabat following a demonstration by teachers demanding higher pay. The couple have not conducted any walkabouts during the visit.

Meghan is seven months pregnant and due to give birth in late April or early May. Officials confirmed that “medical provisions had been made” for the Duchess prior to the visit.

Despite her pregnancy, Meghan is maintaining a busy schedule. She recently returned from New York, where she celebrated her baby shower with close friends, including Serena Williams and Amal Clooney.