Seven days into their royal tour of Australia, Fiji, the Kingdom of Tonga and New Zealand, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry have touched down in Fiji. The royal couple, who announced last week that they're expecting a baby next spring, were greeted by the Fijians with a traditional welcome known as 'Veiqaraqaravi Vakavanua'.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex joined a traditional welcome ceremony, known in Fijian as ‘Veiqaraqaravi Vakavanua’, and conducted by the people of Vuda - watched on by 15,000 people at Albert Park. #RoyalVisitFiji pic.twitter.com/8vHA6GW4sB
- Kensington Palace (@KensingtonRoyal) October 23, 2018
Meghan turned up wearing a gorgeous long-sleeved, midi-length white dress by Australian label Zimmerman, along with earrings she was gifted by the Queen, and a bracelet she received as a wedding gift from her father-in-law, Prince Charles. But the final part of Meghan's outfit, a white Stephen Jones hat to match her dress, has caused some controversy due to Fijian cultural traditions.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex sat on a stage during the welcome ceremony, in which Prince Harry was given a bowl of Kava to drink. Kava, which is made from the roots of a native Pacific Island plant, is a very mild narcotic and can cause tingling or numbness in the tongue and mouth when you drink several bowls of it.
The Kava ceremony is a vital part of welcoming guests in Fijian culture, and those who are present are asked not to wear hats as a mark of respect. But as you can see, Meghan wore a hat during the ceremony nonetheless.
Tourism Fiji's website explains in a little more detail why it's advisable not to wear hats when partaking in this kind of traditional experience. "Avoid wearing a hat in a village as it is considered an insult to the village chief," the site reads.
While Meghan and Harry's welcome ceremony took place in Albert Park in the large city of Suva, and not in a small village, the same cultural rules would have applied in this instance. This is because the chief of Viseisei - the oldest village in Fiji which is recognised as the centre of cultural civilisation - would have been in attendance at the ceremony.
On Twitter, questions were asked as to why Meghan was wearing a hat if hats are deemed inappropriate at events like this according to Fijian culture.
But...Meghan is wearing a hat...
Or is the nothing-on-the-head rule for everyone else?
- Molly (@mollyfleck) October 23, 2018
Why is HRH wearing a hat please?
- Lizzy P Rose (@lizzyprose) October 23, 2018
Following the welcome ceremony, Harry and Meghan attended a reception and a state banquet hosted by the President of Fiji the Grand Pacific Hotel, where the Queen and Prince Philip stayed in 1953.
The Duke and Duchess have two more days in Fiji, during which time they are due to part ways. Prince Harry will visit an indigenous forest site, while Meghan will attend a morning tea at the British High Commissioner’s Residence to showcase women's organisations which operate throughout Fiji.
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