Meghan Markle checks notes to make sure her speech is word perfect

The Duchess of Sussex joked that she ‘couldn’t screw up’ today as she checked her notes during a speech in South Africa about gender equality in higher education.

Meghan was carrying out a solo engagement at the University of Johannesburg when she paused to consult her note card during a round table discussion.

She was speaking to students and academics at the Association of Commonwealth Universities discussion about the challenges faced by young women in education.

Meghan takes part in a round table discussion at the University of Johannesburg this morning

Meghan takes part in a round table discussion at the University of Johannesburg this morning

Meghan takes part in a round table discussion at the University of Johannesburg this morning

Meghan told her audience: ‘It’s very exciting today, and I will use a note card for this because my goodness, this last bit I can’t screw up.’

This was greeted by laughs, before she announced three ‘gender grants’ for the university and two others – Stellenbosch, and the University of Western Cape.

During her impassioned speech, the American former actress also said that when a woman is empowered it ‘changes absolutely everything’ in the community.

Meghan was without her husband Prince Harry today, who is in Malawi on the penultimate day of their ten-day overseas tour in southern Africa. 

The Duchess gave an impassioned speech about access to higher education for young women

The Duchess gave an impassioned speech about access to higher education for young women

The Duchess gave an impassioned speech about access to higher education for young women

The Duchess of Sussex is shown around the university during her visit to South Africa today

The Duchess of Sussex is shown around the university during her visit to South Africa today

The Duchess of Sussex is shown around the university during her visit to South Africa today

Meghan, who was greeted by screaming fans today, took on the role of the ACU’s patron in January from the Queen, who held the position for 33 years.

She said: ‘The goal here is to be able to have gender equality, to be able to support women as they are working in research and higher education roles.

‘And also to be able to have workshops, convene things that are really helping people understand the importance of gender equality.

‘When a woman is empowered it changes absolutely everything in the community and starting an educational atmosphere is really a key point of that.’

Meghan took on the role of the ACU's patron from the Queen, who held it for 33 years

Meghan took on the role of the ACU's patron from the Queen, who held it for 33 years

Meghan took on the role of the ACU’s patron from the Queen, who held it for 33 years

She also spoke about her own experience of being able to attend university.

The Duchess of Sussex leaves the University of Johannesburg following her visit today

The Duchess of Sussex leaves the University of Johannesburg following her visit today

The Duchess of Sussex leaves the University of Johannesburg following her visit today

Meghan said: ‘If you don’t have the support that is necessary that you feel that you can keep taking the next step then you’re stunted in growth.’

She added: ‘I went to university. It takes a village, doesn’t it, to sort of piece it together for people to be able to finance that. Families chipping in, scholarship, financially all those things that were the reason that I was able to attend university.

‘But at the same level you need to have that kind of support on the inside for educators to be able to give as much as they can back to those who are in the educational system.’

The duchess, who wore her hair down and was in a £95 khaki Banana Republic double-breasted trench dress, is a promoter of accessible education. 

The Duke of Sussex, meanwhile, visited a health centre in Malawi today to learn about the challenges it faces serving the local community.

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