Earthquake Rocks New Zealand as Meghan Markle and Prince Harry Continue Their Royal Tour
The earthquake was so significant that much of New Zealand felt it with some even feeling tremors in its South Island. Fortunately, one of the few areas to not to experience significant shaking was Auckland, where Meghan and Harry were visiting with local children.
New Zealand is no stranger to tragic earthquakes, as two people were killed near Kaikoura in November 2016, according to the New Zealand Herald. The 7.8 magnitude tremor was one of the largest in New Zealand and went on for approximately 30 seconds.
The country was also hit by another devastating quake five years earlier — this one being a 6.2 magnitude, the same as Tuesday’s quake. Although it was smaller in magnitude than the 2016 earthquake, it killed 180 people and the city of Christchurch is still rebuilding, the Herald reported.
At the time of Tuesday’s quake, Parliament was in session. Speaker Anne Tolley was captured in the shaky live footage making the call to suspend the meeting and advised Parliament members to take proper safety precautions.
As of right now, there have been no reports of injuries, deaths, or damage.
Unaware of the quake, the royal parents-to-be joined New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in Auckland for a visit to Pillars, a charity that supports children who have a parent in prison by providing special mentoring programs.
The organization celebrated its 30th anniversary this year and is the only New Zealand charity that dedicates itself to supporting children of prisoners through a mentoring program, according to their website.
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Meghan, 37, and Harry, 34, already have a special connection to the charity: as a wedding present to the couple, the government of New Zealand gifted $5,000 to Pillars. During Tuesday’s visit, the royals met some of the children who directly benefited from the funding.
Switching out of their casual attire from earlier, Meghan changed into a beige Brandon Maxwell dress with matching Stuart Weitzman pumps and a beige Burberry Bishop trench coat for the event. Harry also went formal, opting for a navy suit with a white button-down underneath.
As the couple arrived, they were welcomed with a traditional Karanga, a part of the Maori welcoming ceremony. Meghan was also handed a large bouquet of flowers by a little girl in a white dress before the couple headed upstairs to learn more about the charity.
With a child of their own due in the spring, the royal couple has proven to be naturals with kids during their whirlwind 16-day tour of Australia, Fiji, Tonga and New Zealand.
During a reception in Sydney the sixth day of their royal tour, Harry and Meghan met with members of the local Kookaburra Kids Foundation, which offers support for children whose families have been affected by mental illness.
The couple crouched down to play with the little ones, who showed off various toys and games to their royal visitors.
During their visit in Dubbo, Australia, the Royals got a warm welcome from little Luke Vincent, 6, who gave Meghan a big hug and stroked Harry’s beard.
Prior to their trip to the Pillars on Tuesday, the pair also bonded with local children from the environmental education group, “Trees of Survival,” joining the kids for a “welly wanging” contest.
The objective of the game was to throw a Wellington boot — which New Zealanders refer to as “Wellies” — as far as possible. (Wellingtons are equivalent to what Americans call rainboots, Bean Boots, or duck boots.)
The local children cheered as Meghan showed off her strength and won the competition, throwing her red-and-white polka-dotted boot approximately a meter away from Harry’s blue boot. For the win, the Duchess was rewarded with a rainboot-shaped trophy.
Adding to the couple’s growing list of baby gifts, Meghan and Harry were also given a small pair of green and white boots for their newest family member.
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The royal couple started their whirlwind 16-day tour Down Under in Sydney, with a number of day trips to other areas of the country, and kicked off the 2018 Invictus Games before spending a few days in Fiji and Tonga.
They returned to Sydney for the end of the Invictus Games before heading to New Zealand to wrap their tour.
Next up for Meghan and Harry is a fan meet and greet in Auckland, before wrapping up their day at a reception hosted by the Prime Minister at the Auckland War Memorial Museum.