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Meghan Markle, Prince Harry give powerful speech on gender-based violence in South Africa

WATCH: Britain's Prince Harry and his wife Meghan began their first overseas tour on Monday since the birth of their child Archie, starting in South Africa, where they were welcomed by locals in a township in Cape Town.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex marked the beginning of their African royal tour in Cape Town, South Africa, with an impassioned speech on gender-based violence, a topic that hits close to home in the country.

After being welcomed by a group of children as they arrived in Nyanga Township, commonly known as the murder capital of the country, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry addressed the audience with an important message.

Markle said: “While I’m here with my husband as a member of the Royal Family, I want you to know I am here with you as a mother, a wife, as a woman, as a woman of colour and as your sister.”

Prince Harry, 34, continued: “I wanted to ensure that our first visit as a family, with my wife by my side, focused on the significant challenges facing millions of South Africans while acknowledging the hope we feel so strongly here.”

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READ MORE: Everything to know about Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s African tour

“No man is born to cause harm to women. This is learned behaviour, and we need to break that cycle,” he added. “My role is to defend my wife and be a positive role model for my son.”

The speech follows South Africa declaring femicide a national crisis. A recent government report found that a woman is murdered every three hours in South Africa, with many assaulted and raped before their death.

The duke and duchess were spotted arriving in South Africa earlier that day. Though no media were notified, some fans managed to capture photos of the couple and their baby boy, Archie, disembarking from their plane.

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Markle carried Archie, who wore a navy blue sweater and a white bobble hat. It marked the first unofficial time royal watchers have seen Archie’s full face as, in the past, the couple has chosen to share only slightly obscured photos.

After facing scrutiny for their private jet travels over the summer, the two have reportedly committed to flying on commercial airlines for their entire trip, according to CNN.

In addition to addressing gender-based violence, 39-year-old Markle also chose to highlight a local ethical fashion designer.

The duchess wore a black-and-white wrap dress by South African designer Mayamiko Dalitso, which sold out after Markle appeared in it.

She also wore a bracelet from The Justice Desk initiative, a human rights non-profit organization that she and Prince Harry visited after their arrival.

READ MORE: Prince Harry breaks silence on private jet travel with Meghan Markle — ‘No one is perfect’

Later in the day, the new parents will pay a visit to the District Six Museum, which is located in an inner-city residential area of Cape Town. During apartheid, District Six was declared a white area, and 60,000 of its racialized residents were forced to relocate away from the city centre.

This relocation began in 1966 and was completed by 1982, according to the museum’s website.

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The duke and duchess will meet former District Six residents who were forced to relocate and learn more about the area’s history.

Afterwards, the pair will head to the museum’s Homecoming Centre, which was built for former residents to meet and cook together. The duke and duchess will then participate in a cooking activity, a hobby especially close to Markle’s heart.

meaghan.wray@globalnews.ca