Archie makes his debut on royal Africa tour
Should a baby be a public figure? Meghan and Harry’s firstborn had a protected first four months, cocooned from the public eye, with no press at his christening. This week, all that changed.
Baby Archie made a rare public appearance this week as his parents, Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, continued their first official tour as a family in South Africa.
Meghan held Archie as the royal couple met with Nobel Peace Prize winner, Archbishop Desmond Tutu in Cape Town.
The youngest member of Britain’s royal family had been out of the spotlight since his christening in July. Archie, born in May, is the first child of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, and is seventh in line to the British throne.
Other royal babies have made their first international appearance on royal playdates, or crawling around on government lawns for the benefit of the cameras.
Archie met history.
The four-month-old was brought by his parents the Duke and Duchess of Sussex to meet the archbishop and his daughter at his legacy foundation in Cape Town. According to one account, Harry introduced son and legend with the words, “Arch, meet Arch.”
The archbishop, 87, is one of the most revered figures in modern history, who played a pivotal role in the overthrow of apartheid and went on to chair South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
As Harry and Meghan chatted to Archbishop Tutu and his daughter, Thandeka Tutu-Gxashe, Archie sat on Meghan’s lap and basked in the undivided attention of one of the most famous and respected men in the world.
As the four of them laughed, Harry said, “I think he knows exactly what is going on.” Archbishop Tutu laughed loudly and repeatedly, and agreed with him.
The historic meeting was captured on film by a small media party. Meghan lightheartedly told Mrs Tutu-Gxashe that the young royal would have to get used to the cameras in his life. He had cameras in his genes, replied the archbishop’s daughter.
“He’s an old soul,” said Meghan.
Harry said, “I think he is used to it already.”
The archbishop, who was crucial in building up international pressure against the apartheid regime, said he was thrilled by the “rare privilege and honour” to meet the royals.
Although he receives fewer visitors these days — he has been treated for prostate cancer, and his daughter said he was “up and down” — he spent half an hour with the Sussexes at the Old Granary, a restored 200-year-old building built by slaves.
He was awarded the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts in resolving and ending apartheid. He retired from public life in the late 1990s, but continues to be an advocate for social justice and equality around the world.
On Wednesday, however, there was no doubting who was the star of the occasion: not the man in the dog collar, but the young fellow in a pair of pale blue, striped dungarees.
Should a baby be a public figure?
All the world loves a baby
It’s only natural, many say. Babies are of universal interest to people, individually and collectively, explains the academic Nadia Badawi. “They are an affirmation of people’s hope and optimism, a sense of an ongoing future, a belief in our continuing heritage in a fragile world.” It is not surprising that many feel small babies belong to us all.
Nonsense, say traditionalists. Babies are essentially extensions of their mothers and fathers. They have no sense of a separate identity. A baby has the same rights to privacy as any other human being, and should be kept away from the camera lens and the prying eye.
- If you see a small baby, do you want to pick it up for a cuddle?
- Should babies have the same rights to privacy as adults?
- Write a letter to an imaginary baby (“Dear baby”), giving them five rules for childhood — your advice on how to have a happy first 12 years.
- Research the life of Desmond Tutu. Describe his most significant achievement.
Some People Say...
“I love these little people; and it is not a slight thing when they, who are so fresh from God, love us.”Charles Dickens (1812-1870), British author
What do you think?
Q & A
- What do we know?
- That Meghan and Harry demanded a private christening for Archie because they wanted to shield him from the public. They vowed to raise Archie as a private citizen, and his first four months have been reflective of this.
- What do we not know?
- Whether they have had a dramatic change of mind now that he is a little older. Harry this week said, “I think he’s used to this already”, and didn’t disagree when Desmond Tutu’s daughter said Archie had “cameras in his genes”. Some experts think that the Queen has advised the young couple that being royal means being a public family — at least some of the time.
- Desmond Mpilo Tutu was born in Klerksdorp, Transvaal 7 October 1931, in South Africa. As a vocal and committed opponent of apartheid in South Africa, Tutu was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984. In the transition to democracy, Tutu was an influential figure in promoting the concept of forgiveness and reconciliation. Tutu has been recognised as the ’“moral conscience of South Africa”, and frequently speaks up on issues of justice and peace.
- Legacy foundation
- The Desmond & Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation was established in Cape Town in 2013. It is a centre of knowledge and discourse, a repository for intellectual property, and a platform to reconnect people to each other and to their own integrity.
- Apartheid was a system of institutionalised racial segregation that existed in South Africa from 1948 until the early 1990s. It was characterised by an authoritarian, political culture based on white supremacy, which encouraged state repression of black African and asian South Africans for the benefit of the nation’s minority white population.