Little more than a week had passed since the world learned that there was to be a new Sussex, but the Duchess’s baby bump was plain to see as she and Prince Harry arrived in Fiji yesterday.
Meghan wore a full-length blue dress and cradled her stomach as she stood next to her husband at a state reception in the South Pacific archipelago, the latest stop on their 16-day tour.
The occasion was reminiscent of the one to which Harry’s grandparents, the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh, had been treated in 1953. The Duke and Duchess sat in the same location, to be served roast pig, a whale’s tooth and the traditional, national drink of kava – said to be good for anxiety.
Fiji’s president Jioji Konrote, said Harry’s late mother, Diana, would be “proud of the man” he had become and that he had found happiness and love with Meghan.
Earlier, people in nearby fields had strained their eyes for a glimpse of the couple as they arrived at Nausori airport, with Meghan in a Zimmerman dress, a hat by Stephen Jones and earrings that had been a gift from the Queen.
As their convoy left the airport, thousands of well-wishers lined the 15-mile route to Suva, waving flags and cheering. People ran alongside the motorcade as it pulled into Albert Park, under cloudy skies, for the official welcoming ceremony, known as Veirqaraqarvi Vakavanua.
Hundreds, slightly damp from a rain shower – or “a bit of blessing”, as the master of ceremonies put it – cheered and waved Union flags and Fijian flags as the couple arrived.
The crowd maintained a reverential silence, with only the occasional burst of children chatting and a nearby clock chiming heard over the rhythmic drums and chanting of the ceremony.
Harry told the crowd: “Bula venaka! The Duchess and I look forward to meeting as many of you as possible during the next two days and celebrating the links and close friendship between Fiji and the United Kingdom.” He signed off with “venaka”, or thank you, to cheers and laughter.
After the 45-minute ceremony, the couple made the short drive to the Grand Pacific Hotel, where hundreds packed in to see them on the balcony.
Today, the Duke will lay a wreath at the Suva War Memorial.