The Duchess of Sussex has added her voice to those protesting against the death of George Floyd in a heartfelt video.
Meghan Markle delivered the emotional address to girls graduating at her former all-girls Catholic high school the Immaculate Heart in Los Angeles, telling them: “I’m so sorry you have to grow up in a world where this is still present.”
The clip was released to Black women’s lifestyle magazine Essence, which published it on Thursday.
The 38-year-old said:
“The only wrong thing to say is to say nothing. Because George Floyd’s life mattered. And Breonna Taylor’s life mattered. And Philando Castile’s life mattered. And Tamir Rice’s life mattered. And so did so many other people, whose names we know and whose names we do not know. Stefan Clarke, his life mattered.
“And I was thinking about this moment when I was a sophomore in high school. I was 15 and as you know, sophomore year is the year that we do volunteer work, which is a pre-requisite before graduating. And I remember my teacher at the time said to me before I was leaving for a day of volunteering: ’Always remember to put others needs above your own fears.”
Floyd died after a white police officer held him down by pressing a knee into his neck in Minneapolis on May 25, sparking days of protest in the US.
The Duchess said: “What is happening in our country and in our state and in our home town of LA has been absolutely devastating.
“I wasn’t sure what I could say to you.
“I wanted to say the right thing and I was really nervous that I wouldn’t or it would get picked apart.
The former actress, the first mixed race person in modern history to marry a senior British royal, has been outspoken on racism in society.
She recalled living through the 1992 race riots in LA which were “also triggered by a senseless act of racism” and seeing armed men on the street and burnt-out buildings during race riots in the Californian city in 1992 after police officers were filmed violently beating Rodney King.
Meghan went on: “I remember the curfew and I remember rushing back home, and on that drive home, seeing ash fall from the sky, and smelling the smoke and seeing the smoke billow out of buildings.
“I remember seeing men in the back of a van just holding guns and rifles.
“I remember pulling up to the house and seeing the tree, that had always been there, completely charred. And those memories don’t go away.
“I can’t imagine that at 17 or 18 … that you would have to have a different version of that same type of experience.”
She said they should understand it but only “as a history lesson, not as your reality”.
“Now you get to be part of rebuilding … we are going to rebuild and rebuild and rebuild until it’s rebuilt. Because when the foundation is broken, so are we,” she added
Meghan and Harry are now living in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, with son Archie Mountbatten-Windsor, who turned one on May 6.
The Sussexes quit as working royals and have spoken of their struggles with royal life and intense tabloid interest.
They are preparing to launch their new charitable organisation Archewell – named after their son.
It will replace their now-defunct Sussex Royal brand, but plans to launch the venture have been delayed while the world battles coronavirus.