Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, reads from her book The Bench during her visit with Prince Harry, to PS 123, the Mahalia Jackson School, in New York’s Harlem neighbourhood (Richard Drew/AP)
New York schoolchildren have welcomed the Duke and Duchess of Sussex to their playground on the second day of the couple’s Big Apple tour.
Meghan and Harry may have stepped down as working royals but they acted the part when they met youngsters from the Harlem elementary school.
To promote literacy, the duchess read to the pupils from her first children’s book, The Bench, and told them about being inspired to put pen to paper after seeing the developing relationship between her husband and son Archie.
“The Bench started as a poem I wrote for my husband on Father’s Day, the month after Archie was born. That poem became this story,” the New York Post reported Meghan as saying.
She added: “I was, at the moment, witnessing my husband with our son when he’d just been born, and watching that this could be a place where they could continue to grow and connect and learn, and that could be anywhere.”
Harry sat on the ground amongst the children under a marquee to listen to his wife read.
The duchess was given pink paper hearts the children had written their personal stories on and Meghan went through them individually, addressing each student by name, the newspaper reported.
The Sussexes wore masks and smart casual clothes for the low-key visit which contrasted with their trip on Thursday to the One World Trade Centre, built on the site of the twin towers destroyed in the September 11 attacks.
When they first arrived at the Mahalia Jackson School, the couple was welcomed by two pupils, senior school staff and Meisha Porter, chancellor of the New York City Department of Education.
After being led into the playground, the duchess hugged an adult, presumed to be a staff member, who had called out “good morning” and was standing beside some children.
A mural of plants, flowers and insects made from coloured paper was on display in the playground bathed with September sunshine, and after taking a closer look at the artwork created by the children the Sussexes posed with them for a photograph.
During the visit Harry was given a group hug by the children and Meghan was also embraced by her young fans.
On Saturday afternoon, local time, the Sussexes will take part in a worldwide event urging leaders to adopt a vaccine equity policy to help end the Covid-19 pandemic.
Harry and Meghan will join the 24-hour broadcast Global Citizen Live being staged in New York’s famous Central Park and around the world.
It will be part of a number of shows being held in cities as varied as London to Lagos by the organisation Global Citizen, with artists like Ed Sheeran, Sir Elton John Kylie Minogue, Metallica and Coldplay scheduled to perform.
The Global Citizen Live campaign is calling on G7 countries and the European Union to share at least one billion Covid-19 vaccine doses with those most in need and support calls for a waiver on vaccine intellectual property rights.