24/09/2019 8:16 AM AEST

Meghan Markle Tells South Africa: I'm Here With You 'As A Woman Of Colour And As Your Sister'

The Duchess of Sussex denounced gender-based violence as she and Prince Harry began their royal trip in Cape Town.

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry stepped out Monday on the first stop of their royal trip to South Africa, where the former Suits actress issued a powerful call against gender-based violence. 

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, who have a massive itinerary planned for the day, headed out in Cape Town after arriving earlier in the day with their son, Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor. Archie didn’t accompany the couple on their first stop.

The Duke and Duchess visited the Justice Desk, an NGO with a presence in South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Zambia that aims to “educate, train, advocate for and equip youth, vulnerable groups, civil society, and governments in human rights, justice and advocacy,” according to a statement on its website. 

Dominic Lipinski - PA Images via Getty Images
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex arrive at the Nyanga Township in Cape Town, South Africa, for a visit to a workshop that teaches children about their rights, self-awareness and safety, on the first day of their tour of Africa. 

While at the Justice Desk, the royals hugged and danced with the children in Nygana township, and Meghan gave a moving speech condemning gender-based violence. 

“We are encouraged to hear your president take the next step towards preventing gender-based violence through education and necessary changes to reinforce the values of modern South Africa,” the Duchess said. “I have to say, I feel incredibly humble to be in the presence of all of you as you stand firm in your core values of respect, dignity, and equality.” 

The Duchess commended those in her audience for their commitment to shining their “light brightly” for others in the community. 

“On one personal note, may I just say that while I am here with my husband, as a member of the royal family, I want you to know that for me, I am here with you as a mother, as a wife, as a woman, as a woman of colour and as your sister,” Meghan said as the crowd erupted in applause and cheers, according to video captured by Hello! royals reporter Emily Nash.

“I am here with you, and I am here for you,” she added. 

Meghan wore a black and white, wrap maxi dress for the occasion by the Malawhi-based brand Mayamiko, according to People. 

Harry, who wore what looked like a linen shirt with navy trousers and trainers, will visit Malawi, Angola and Botswana by himself later in the trip. 

Chris Jackson via Getty Images
Meghan receives a hug from a young wellwisher as she visits a Justice Desk initiative in Nyanga township with Prince Harry.
Dominic Lipinski - PA Images via Getty Images
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are presented with a gift for son Archie. 
Chris Jackson via Getty Images
The Sussexes dance as they visit a Justice Desk initiative in Nyanga township. 

Buckingham Palace announced the royal couple’s trip in June, confirming longstanding rumours. The Sussexes later posted how “excited” they were for the trip on their Sussex Royal Instagram page. 

“The Duke and Duchess are really looking forward to meeting so many of you on the ground and continuing to raise awareness of the high impact work local communities are doing across the commonwealth and beyond,” read the Instagram caption, which also announced that little Archie would be along for the trip. 

Prior to heading to South Africa, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex were in Rome for the wedding of their close friend, designer Misha Noono, to oil tycoon Mike Hess. 

Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner, Joshua Kushner and Karlie Kloss also attended the wedding, alongside fellow guests James Corden, Orlando Bloom, Katy Perry, Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie.  

Remo Casilli / Reuters
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex arrive to attend the wedding of fashion designer Misha Nonoo at Villa Aurelia in Rome, Italy on Sept. 20.