Duke and Duchess of Sussex hit New York in first tour of their post-royal era

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The Duke And Duchess Of Sussex visit the One World Observatory in New York - WireImage
The Duke And Duchess Of Sussex visit the One World Observatory in New York - WireImage

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have begun the first tour of their post-royal era, visiting politicians in New York.

Prince Harry and Meghan arranged a visit to New York's One World Trade Center on Thursday to meet Bill de Blasio, New York City Mayor, and Kathy Hochul, Governor of New York State, at the skyscraper's observatory.

Prince Harry and Meghan will also meet Mr de Blasio's wife, Chirlane McCray, the first lady of New York and a writer and activist, and their son Dante de Blasio.

One World Trade Center was built on the site of the original Twin Towers and the visit comes just two weeks after the 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks.

The couple arrived at the One World Trade Center at 8.14am on Thursday, in two Range Rovers with blacked out windows. Prince Harry was wearing a dark suit and Meghan was in navy: a navy roll neck jumper, navy heels and a navy coat.

They held hands as they walked around to the front of the building. Prince Harry waved at a group of young women who screamed at him and shouted: "Harry!"

Crowds gather to greet couple

Earlier in the morning around 40 journalists and cameramen from major TV networks including NBC and ABC lined up at 6.45am to see the event.

One cameraman joked that when Meghan saw him she would "ditch Harry and go off with me - sorry buddy, it’s over!"

A young female TV reporter said she took the assignment because she "wanted to be in the presence of royalty".

Prince Harry and Meghan will also meet Mr de Blasio's wife, Chirlane McCray, the first lady of New York and a writer and activist, and their son Dante de Blasio. - Anadolu
Prince Harry and Meghan will also meet Mr de Blasio's wife, Chirlane McCray, the first lady of New York and a writer and activist, and their son Dante de Blasio. - Anadolu
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle visit the One World Observatory - Anadolu
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle visit the One World Observatory - Anadolu

One World Trade Center is home to publishers Condé Nast which include Vogue magazine.

Outside the building there was the air of a state visit with dozens of security people and NYPD officers standing guard.

Barricades were put up, the plaza out the front was cleared out and a press pen for photographers were erected outside.

The street next to the building was blocked off and sniffer dogs were on patrol.

A group of 15 taxi drivers protesting against the Mayor’s lack of support for yellow cab drivers were moved from the front of the building by the NYPD and put behind a barricade a short distance away.

The drivers, whose industry has been crippled by rife hailing apps, shouted "no more suicides" and held up signs saying "Save our jobs".

Richard Chow, 63, a yellow cab driver whose brother Kenny committed suicide because of his debts, said the Mayor "sold our rights, we lost our investment, we lost everything. We are protesting the mayor because we are under the water and he’s letting us drown. We need the mayor to help the cabbies.

"We're respectful of the Royal Family but we need to have them talk to the mayor. He created the crisis, now he has to fix it. We love you Prince Harry, can you help us?"

The protesters stayed silent when the Duke and Duchess entered the building.

A handful of tourists hung around with their phones in the air hoping to get a glimpse of the Sussexes.

A woman in her 20s, who declined to give her name, said she got up early to see the couple. She said: ‘I think it’s great. I’m a big fan, I went to their wedding in Windsor. They’re doing great things, everything that’s said about them is all misconstrued’.

New York photographers take the reins

The Duke and Duchess were shown the view from the tower before posing for the press - Getty Images North America
The Duke and Duchess were shown the view from the tower before posing for the press - Getty Images North America
Governor Kathy Hochul, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, NYC Mayor Bill De Blasio, Chirlane McCray and Dante de Blasio pose at One World Observatory - Getty Images North America
Governor Kathy Hochul, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, NYC Mayor Bill De Blasio, Chirlane McCray and Dante de Blasio pose at One World Observatory - Getty Images North America

The Duke and Duchess were shown the view from the tower before posing for the press.

In a stark difference to a royal tour, the couple were expected to take instructions from New York photographers and cameramen who shouted for them to look this way and that.

“This is an unshootable shot for this angle,” one told them, as the Duke and Duchess appeared momentarily unsure about whether to obey or not.

Asked if she was enjoying her time in New York, Meghan said: “It’s wonderful to be back, thank you.”

After a few moments of confusion, where they exchanged words sotto voce, the Duke and Duchess put their masks back on to walk downstairs with a small entourage.

Duke and Duchess pay respects

The Duke and Duchess left the World Trade Centre just before 9am, stopping to pose for photographs alongside New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and the state’s Governor Kathy Hochul.

After hugs, kisses on the cheeks and long handshakes, the Duke and Duchess walked hand in hand past a small group of well wishers and towards the 9/11 memorial museum and the site where the twin towers once stood.

The couple smiled and waved but did not stop to talk to members of the public.

They were encircled by a rolling cordon of plain clothes officers, suited security guards and more than 100 New York police officers - some holding M4 machine guns and wearing body armor.

The Duke and Duchess paused at the memorial to the North tower, a vast pool of water with the names of those who lost their lives 20 years ago etched in metal around it.

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry pause while getting a tour of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in New York - AP
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry pause while getting a tour of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in New York - AP
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex visit the 9/11 Memorial Museum in New York City - Anadolu
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex visit the 9/11 Memorial Museum in New York City - Anadolu
Mayor Bill de Blasio, First Lady Chirlane McCray and Dante de Blasio with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and Governor Kathy Hochul on Thursday - Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office
Mayor Bill de Blasio, First Lady Chirlane McCray and Dante de Blasio with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and Governor Kathy Hochul on Thursday - Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office

They then walked slowly towards a wreath, which the Telegraph understands they provided.

Adorned with white roses and orchids, it was placed by the survivor tree, next to the site of the South tower.

The couple spent nearly an hour at the museum and the surrounding area, with the Duke telling The Telegraph that his visit had been “great.”

The Duke and Duchess stepped into a blacked out Range Rover, which was part of a four-car convoy, and headed north into Manhattan, towards Times Square and Central Park.

The pair were described as “charming” by a security guard who followed them round and as “awesome” by one of the museum staff members.

Outside, a long line formed of people trying to get into the museum.

Debbie Richardson, who is visiting New York with his wife Debbie, said: “I wondered why there was such a big police presence. Now it makes sense.”

Another visitor, who did not give their name, said: “It feels like a state visit. What an honour that they’re here.”

Sussexes to join Global Citizen Live

The Sussexes, who welcomed baby daughter Lili in June, are in New York to take part in a worldwide event on Saturday urging leaders to adopt a vaccine equity policy to help end the Covid-19 pandemic.

They are joining the 24-hour broadcast Global Citizen Live being staged in New York's famous Central Park and around the world.

It is part of a number of shows being held in cities across the world - from London to Lagos - by the organisation Global Citizen. Artists scheduled to perform include Ed Sheeran, Sir Elton John, Kylie Minogue, Metallica and Coldplay.

The Sussexes, who welcomed baby daughter Lili in June, are in New York to take part in a worldwide event on Saturday urging leaders to adopt a vaccine equity policy to help end the Covid-19 pandemic - WireImage
The Sussexes, who welcomed baby daughter Lili in June, are in New York to take part in a worldwide event on Saturday urging leaders to adopt a vaccine equity policy to help end the Covid-19 pandemic - WireImage

Fans now hope the couple will fill the time in between the two pre-publicised events with a range of engagements, as they would on a royal tour.

Critics, however, were left bemused at the announcements, questioning the basis on which they were meeting US politicians in their new role outside the working Royal family.

The couple left official duties in 2020, and no longer represent the Queen abroad.

They have previously completed several royal tours on behalf of the British government, including visits to Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Tonga, Morocco and South Africa.

They are now pursuing financial freedom in the United States, living in California and working through their foundation Archewell.

Pledging to activate compassion in communities, they are focused on bringing about gender and vaccine equity, as well as working on environmental issues and mental health.

They have also launched a podcast series, and have a deal in place with Netflix, the television streaming service.

The Duchess has previously been in New York for her baby shower, a two-day extravaganza which saw her celebrate with friends in the penthouse of The Mark hotel, a favourite with celebrities.

With a red carpet set up for her arrival, the trip saw her wearing dark sunglasses for attempted outings to the Met gallery and dinner at showbiz haunt The Polo Bar.

A police report, emerging afterwards, detailed how Meghan had sought officers' help to leave the baby shower hotel through a side exit to change the "optics" of the trip, wanting to avoid the "potential impression that she was enjoying the media attention".

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