Harry and Meghan Fiji visit: Vuda to perform traditional welcome ceremony

British High Commissioner Melanie Hopkins highlights key aspects of the royal visit this week. Picture: JOVESA NAISUA

MEMBERS of the public who would like to catch a glimpse of The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Prince Harry and Meghan, can do so at Albert Park in Suva on Tuesday, October 23, 2018.

The newly-wed royals, who are also expecting their first addition to the family, will be accorded a traditional welcome ceremony there, and this event will be open to members of the public.

British High Commissioner Melanie Hopkins said in an interview that the traditional welcome ceremony would be hosted by the vanua Vuda, and the traditional meke performed by the vanua Nakelo.

Ms Hopkins also noted that the visit by Prince Harry and Meghan Markle to Fiji was at the request of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and, therefore, provided the funding for the visit to take place.

This is Prince Harry and Meghan’s first joint visit to Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and Tonga.

Three-day program:

October 23

· Upon their arrival, the Royal Highnesses will be greeted by a Guard of Honour at the airport, before calling on the President at Borron House in Suva;
· The Duke and Duchess will then attend an official welcome ceremony in the Albert Park – known as the veirqaraqaravi vakavanua;
· The ceremony will mirror the format that of the one attended by The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh in 1953;
· The public event will involve a number of traditional elements of Fijian culture, including dance performances, the presentation of the tabua, and a kava ceremony;
· From there, The Duke and Duchess will leave Albert Park for the Grand Pacific Hotel to attend a reception and a State dinner hosted by the President, at which The Duke will speak.

October 24

· His Royal Highness will lay a wreath at the War Memorial, and meet a number of Fijian war veterans, some of whom served with the British Armed Forces;
· Their Royal Highnesses will then visit the University of the South Pacific campus in Suva, where they will observe a cultural performance on the effects of climate change, before meeting students studying subjects from agriculture to women’s development;
· The Duke will make a short speech in his capacity as Commonwealth Youth Ambassador and The Duchess will say a few words;
· From here, Their Royal Highnesses’ program will split – The Duke will travel to Colo-i-Suva Forest Park, and The Duchess to the British High Commissioner’s Residence.
· At Colo-i-Suva, Prince Harry will plant a tree and unveil a plaque to mark its dedication. He will also meet with school children, student conservators, representatives from sustainable tourism industries, and local landowners and villagers to see how the rainforest impacts upon their education and livelihoods;
· The Duchess will attend a morning tea at the British High Commissioner’s residence to showcase women’s organisations which operate throughout Fiji;
· The Duchess will then travel to the Suva Market to meet some of the female vendors who have become empowered through the UN Market Project for women.

October 25

· The Duke and Duchess will travel to Nadi where they will attend a special event at Nadi International Airport;
· After an official welcome ceremony, The Duke and Duchess will unveil a new statue commemorating Sergeant Talaiasi Labalaba, a British-Fijian soldier who lost his life in the 1972 Battle of Mirbat.
. From Nadi International Airport, Their Royal Highnesses will take a chartered flight to Tonga.

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