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Prince Harry and Meghan arrive in Nigeria for three-day visit

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The Duke and Duchess of Sussex landed in Nigeria on Friday, launching a three-day private visit to the West African nation, where they will meet with wounded soldiers and visit local charities, officials said.

The Sussexes are visiting the country as it’s now a “part of the Invictus community,” Air Vice-Marshal Abidemi Marquis, director of sports for the Nigerian Defence Headquarters, said during a media briefing Thursday.

Their first engagement was an event hosted at a school in the Nigerian capital, Abuja. Outside the Lightway Academy, students lined up patiently to welcome the royal couple, alongside a troupe of dancers. The couple met students and staff from the GEANCO Foundation, which supports girls and young women across the country with menstrual health products and education.

Prince Harry and Meghan were invited by the chief of defense staff, Christopher Musa, the country’s highest-ranking military official.

Marquis said the duchess was keen to accompany her husband on the visit “as part of her lineage and heritage.” Meghan revealed in 2022 that she discovered she was 43% Nigerian from a genealogy test.

The trip to Nigeria sparked a wave of excitement among the public when it was announced two weeks ago.

“Together, they are using their influence to democratize opportunity and push causes for the advantage of underrepresented groups. I would love to see them at an event with young people in politics in Nigeria,” she added.

Entrepreneur Ife Durosinmi-Etti spoke of her joy that Meghan was “coming to a place that she’s absolutely loved and welcomed.”

“It got me all giddy when I found out about her Nigerian heritage because Nigerian women are smart, resilient, multitalented, they go after what they want and that’s exactly how I see her, so when I heard; I was like, ‘Yup, that’s it, it’s the Nigerian Spirit in her,’” the 35-year-old said.

A packed itinerary

This is the Sussexes’ first trip to Nigeria as a couple. Harry flew to Abuja after a quick visit to London, where he attended events marking the 10th anniversary of his Invictus Games, a Paralympics-style event for wounded, injured and sick military personnel and veterans.

Meghan flew in from Los Angeles, and together, they will undertake a busy schedule, which includes visiting a military rehabilitation center and local organizations dedicated to supporting veterans’ welfare, Marquis said.

The duke is also scheduled to join wounded veterans during a sitting volleyball game on Saturday.

As it has been described as a private visit, the royal couple will not be meeting with Nigeria’s president, Bola Tinubu. However, they will meet with the governors of Lagos and Kaduna State.

The UK’s high commissioner to Nigeria, Richard Montgomery, told local media that there wouldn’t be a meeting with the Nigerian leader because “they are visiting in a private capacity, not an official one.”

Profound challenges

Nigeria’s military personnel face profound challenges, particularly as the country has been combating the Boko Haram insurgency since 2009. Can we expand on this point any further? What are the challenges? Are there stats available of the number of personnel who have been injured/ killed?

The couple are visiting at the invitation of the Nigerian Defence Headquarters, which is keen to be involved further in the Invictus Games and to be part of the wider Invictus community.

Last year’s games in Germany marked a milestone for Nigeria, as it debuted alongside Israel and Colombia, becoming the first African country to participate.

Marquis said taking part in the Invictus Games recovery program has boosted the morale of Nigerian soldiers and Nigeria has expressed interest in hosting the games, which take place every two years.

He added: “Eighty percent of our soldiers involved in these recovery programs have a better outlook in life and say it has given them the opportunity to improve their self-esteem and mental health.”

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