Harry and Meghan Fiji visit: Taniela relishes meet with Duke of Sussex

13-year-old Taniela Vakalaca and his mother Jiokapeci Vakalaca at the National War Memorial in Suva yesterday. Picture: TALEBULA KATE

THIRTEEN year old Taniela Vakalaca had a once-in-a-lifetime encounter yesterday when he met the Duke of Sussex Prince Harry in Suva.

Taniela, who is the son of late Fijian British Army soldier Saiasi Vakalaca, was among other Fijian war veterans who met the Duke at a Wreath Laying Ceremony at the National War Memorial in Suva.

The Year 7 of Suva Muslim Primary School caught the attention of the Duke with his bright blue Bula shirt and medals that belonged to his late father who died of a short illness in Kenya while serving in the British Army.

Elated about the experience, Taniela said Prince Harry shook his hand and enquired about the medals he had on.

“He asked me whose medals I had, and I said it belonged to my father,” he said.

“And then he said I like your shirt, it’s nice.”

Prince Harry also gave a rather humorous advice to the young lad who aspires to follow in the footsteps of his father.

“He asked me and I said want to join the British Army, and the he said no you don’t have to be in the army, join the navy,” Taniela said.

The Duke is currently a Lieutenant Commander of the Royal Navy, the United Kingdom’s naval warfare force.

Prince Harry then asked about Taniela’s mother, who was standing a few rows back from where Taniela and the veterans.

“I really didn’t expect to meet him, I was actually taking a video of him meeting my son when he called me in front,” she said.

“I was shocked and didn’t know what to do or say, I was just stunned, so I just did a curtsy and shook his hand,” she laughed.

Taniela said he was grateful for an opportunity to meet royalty, an experience that will be etched in the memory of the young lad.

The Duke of Sussex laid a wreath in honour of Fijian war veterans at the memorial site, remembering their dedicated service and sacrifice.

More than 11 Fijian war veterans were present at the ceremony including the Republic of Fiji Military Forces, Fiji Navy and Police.

 

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