Meghan Markle Receives 'Happy Mother's Day' Wish on Final Day in Nigeria with Prince Harry

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry are kicking off their last official day in Nigeria in a sporty way

Published Time: 12.05.2024 - 15:31:10 Modified Time: 12.05.2024 - 15:31:10

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry are kicking off their last official day in Nigeria in a sporty way.

After arriving in Lagos on May 12, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex visited Ilupeju Senior Grammar School, where they watched a Giants of Africa basketball exhibition, which was attended by PEOPLE.

The Duchess of Sussex also received her first public Mother’s Day wishes from the charity’s Vice-Chairman and President, former NBA star Masai Ujiri, who addressed Meghan and mentioned his own wife, saying, “I want to wish you a happy, happy Mother’s Day.”“It is sometimes hard for us to be away from our kids and family to make things like this happen," the former Toronto Raptors star added as Harry got up from his seat and applauded the women. "But to do so shows dedication. To come to something like this and delicate yourself we truly appreciate it so thank you again.”

The couple — who are parents to Prince Achie, 5, and Princess Lilibet, who turns 3 in June — were on hand to unveil a partnership between their Archewell Foundation and Giants of Africa, which uses sport — particularly basketball — to empower and engage young people.“We are inspired by the youth and they will continue to be leaders and they will change Africa. Africa is already changing," Ujiri said. "We use sports to try to make some more change. It improves peace, it brings people together and brings incredible gatherings like this.”

Ujiri expressed regret for missing the Invictus Games in Toronto in 2017, stating, “It broke my heart that I couldn’t be there. Full circle now — I was supposed to meet Prince Harry then and now I meet him in Lagos, Nigeria. Yeah!”Taking the microphone, Harry, 39, praised the work of Giants of Africa.

“What you guys are doing here at Giants of Africa is truly amazing,” he said. “Specifically with sport. The power of sport can change lives. It brings people together and creates community and there are no barriers which is the most important thing. It’s wonderful to see each and every one of you here today, sitting on this court. I know you’re ready to go. And we’re going to get those balls going and you’re going to show us how good you are.”

Meghan — who lived in Toronto for seven years while making Suits — added that she first heard about the charity while living in the Canadian city.

"Talk about full circle again," she said. "Never did I think we would be able to be here all those years later supporting the expansion of this incredible organization. We’re so grateful and proud of all the work that you’re doing.”

Meghan, 42, then thanked everyone who helped organize the event and the media who were covering it before turning to players and saying, “We can’t wait to see you play."

Meghan then jokingly added that she didn't have the basketball skills to join in. "I don’t attempt to try to do any basketball, my husband is the athletic one. Thank you, we’re happy to be here. And let's have a fun afternoon.” 

After asking the players to show “us how good you are,” Harry stepped onto the court and joined in some basketball drills. The couple also moved around the court and spoke to some of the wheelchair basketball players, kneeling down to ask each player their name.

“You’re better than I am,” the Duchess of Sussex told one young player, while she hugged Dennis Ogbe, 47, a Paralympian shot putter and discus thrower for Team USA.

“It means the whole world to us that they are here. This is beautiful," Ogbe tells PEOPLE. “She was asking about what I do. It makes a whole world of difference that they are shining a light on Africa. And Africa needs our youth. It doesn’t matter whether you are physically disabled or have any kind of disability; as human beings, we should treat each other equally. That’s why you see this diversity here today. This is not just showcasing Nigeria but the whole world.”

As the event concluded, Harry, surrounded by kids, took a shot at a basketball hoop. And he scored!

Giants of Africa was founded in 2003 by NBA champion and Toronto Raptors Vice-Chairman and President Masai Ujiri, who was born and raised in Nigeria, to ed -

ucate and empower young people in Africa through basketball. The charity has worked with 6,000 campers across 17 countries and sent 59 participants to the Nigerian national team.

Harry and Meghan traveled to Nigeria at the invitation of the Chief of Defense Staff, the country's highest-ranking military official. The couple arrived in Africa on May 10 for the official three-day stay, which is significant as their first international tour since stepping back from their royal roles in 2020. The couple's itinerary highlighted the Invictus Games, which Prince Harry founded in 2014 as a vehicle for healing for wounded, injured and sick service personnel through adaptive sport. 

Nigeria made its event debut at the latest iteration of the Invictus Games in Düsseldorf, Germany in September 2023, and the Minister of Defense has expressed interest in hosting the competition in the future, should Nigeria be granted the opportunity.

On May 11, Duke of Sussex showed off his athletic skills while spending time with the charity Nigeria: Unconquered. About 15 minutes after taking a seat at the Defense Headquarters Officers’ Mess in Abuja with Meghan to watch a sitting volleyball game, where they were presented with scarves the green and white colors of the Nigerian flag, Harry was invited to join in on the court.

His colleagues shouted, "Team Harry!" Animated Meghan clapped for every point, regardless of which team scored, but she had a big smile and cheered when her husband scored his first point.

Once Prince Harry took his place on the court, a young girl named Tiwa Akanbi, 9, was ushered forward to meet the Duchess of Sussex.

"She said Prince Harry loves to play volleyball and that he’s very good at it. And she asked me if I play volleyball in my school. And I said yes," Tiwa tells PEOPLE.

Adds her mom, Desola Akanbi, 47: "She’s always wanted to meet her. She said last night, ‘When am I going to meet ‘Auntie Meghan?’ "

Royalty Ojeh, the 6-year-old daughter of Nigeria: Unconquered's executive director, was dressed in her best white dress and handed Meghan some roses. The Duchess took one from the bouquet and handed one back to her. “She was nice,” Royalty says. 

Meghan revealed on her Archetypes podcast in 2022 that she learned she is 43% Nigerian after having her genealogy done, and has mentioned feeling a special connection to Nigeria throughout the trip.

"I think, being African-American, part of it is really not knowing so much about your lineage or background, where you come from specifically," the Duchess of Sussex said at a Women in Leadership event she co-hosted with Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Director General of the World Trade Organization, on May 11.

Meghen explained that the the first thing she did when she learned about the heritage, "was call my mom  because I wanted to know if she had any awareness of it."

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"And it was exciting for both of us to discover more and understand what that really means," she said about the reaction she and her mother Doria Ragland shared.

"Never in a million years would I understand it as much as I do now. Being here and what has been echoed so much really in the past day by men and women alike is, ‘Oh, we weren't surprised when you found out you were Nigerian. And, and I say that mostly as a compliment to all of you because what they define as a Nigerian woman is brave, resilient, courageous, powerful, beautiful," Meghan said. "And every single moment that I hear anyone so far talk about what it means to be a Nigerian woman, it is the most flattering thing to be in that company, to be in your company." 

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex's visit to Nigeria concludes later in the day on May 12 with a final reception and polo fundraiser for Nigeria: Unconquered.

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