The Duchess of Sussex said ‘It’s wonderful to be back’ as she visited New York City with Harry in her first trip to the city since her $500,000 baby shower in 2019.
Meghan, 40, smiled and shared her thoughts on returning to the Big Apple while atop One World Trade Center on Thursday morning.
The Duchess, who wore heavy fall clothes despite humid 80F weather, spoke moments before she and her husband visited the 9/11 Memorial as part of their first big public trip together since quitting the Royal Family in early 2020.
She and her husband Harry, 37, posted for photos in front of the observatory’s floor-to-ceiling windows, which offer stunning views of New York City and New Jersey. The Sussexes were joined by New York State Governor Kathy Hochul, 63, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, 60, de Blasio’s wife Chirlane McCray, 66, and the couple’s son Dante, 24.
Harry and Meghan, who arrived in NYC on Wednesday, and are rumored to be staying at the $1,300-a-night Carlyle Hotel, then visited the memorial pools around 9am EST.
The couple inspected the large black pools, built in the footprints of the original Twin Towers, before entering the 9/11 Museum, which sits underneath, before spending around half an hour inside.
They are said to be visiting 50 UN Plaza in Midtown East at 1pm on Thursday. It is an apartment building close to the United Nations Global Headquarters and is home to the US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield, although further details of the Sussexes’ plans have yet to be shared.
Saturday’s Global Citizen concert in Central Park is the Sussexes’ next confirmed appearance, and it is currently unclear how they will spend the remainder of Thursday and Friday.
Harry and Meghan, who donned somber dark outfits, walked hand-in-hand to the memorial pools and museum. Their two year-old son Archie and three month-old daughter Lilibet remain at home in California.
Meghan said ‘It’s wonderful to be back’ while posing with NY Governor Kathy Hochul (furthest left) and NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio (next to Harry) as well as De Blasio’s wife Chirlane McCray, and the couple’s son Dante, furthest right, on Thursday
The Duchess of Sussex made the remark while visiting the One World Trade Center Observatory with her husband Harry
Meghan and Harry are pictured at the South Tower memorial pool in New York City on Thursday morning, with National September 11 Memorial and Museum President Alice Greenwald, pictured in blue
The couple appeared somber as they were shown the huge memorial by Greenwald, during their first big public trip together since quitting the royal family in early 2020
Harry and Meghan were shown the South Tower pool moments after being given the chance to visit the adjoining North Tower memorial pool alone and together. Patricia Harris from Bloomberg Philanthropy, pictured in Green, also joined the couple
Greenwald appeared to be explaining the symbolism of the pool to the couple. Both water features were built in the footprints of the original World Trade Center Twin Towers, which were destroyed in the 9/11 terror attacks
Meghan looked pensive as she chatted to 9/11 Museum President Alice Greenwald (in blue) and Patricia Harris from Bloomberg Philanthropy (in green)
Harry gave a wave to fans who called his name as he and Meghan walked towards the entrance of the skyscraper
Meghan and Harry visited the North Tower memorial pool alone, and several minutes looking at the names of those killed in the attacks, which are inscribed around the edges of both pools.
Harry was seen putting a protective arm around his wife as they inspected the monument.
They were then shown around the nearby South Tower memorial pool by National September 11 Memorial & Museum President Alice Greenwald and Patricia Harris from Bloomberg Philanthropy.
They then went into the museum, which sits underneath the reflecting pools, and offers a comprehensive retelling of the 2001 terror outrage. The Sussexes spent around 30 minutes inside, before being driven away in a black Range Rover.
Meghan last visited the city in February 2019, when pals including Amal Clooney and Gayle King held a lavish baby shower for her at The Mark Hotel’s $75,000-a-night penthouse suite on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.
The Duchess traveled to that event from London on a private jet, with the bash estimated to have cost $500,000.
After completing their trip to the World Trade Center, the couple got into a waiting black Range Rover and were driven away
Harry and Meghan are rumored to be staying at the Carlyle Hotel in Manhattan, and are in New York for three days
Harry and Meghan arrived at One World Trade Center at 8:14am Thursday in somber outfits, likely chosen for their planned trip to the nearby 9/11 Memorial afterwards.
The couple exited a black SUV, and were whisked up to the skyscraper’s viewing deck – which sits between floors 100 and 102 – to meet Hochul and de Blasio, who arrived moments before the royals.
Meghan donned a stylish dark blue outfit, with a matching jacket, polo neck, wide-legged trousers, heels and her hair swept back into a business-like bun. She wore simple pearl earrings and muted makeup.
Harry wore a complementary dark suit and tie. The couple, whose children Archie, two, and Lilibet, three months, have remained at home in California, were snapped donning black face masks as they entered One World Trade Center.
How NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio has come under fire for spiralling crime rates and handling of pandemic
Democrat Bill de Blasio’s tenure as the 109th New York City Mayor has been marred by controversy since he was elected in 2014.
Criticism during his time in office includes the spiralling crime on the city’s streets, his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, and his fractious relationship with NYPD.
He has also come under fire for his approach to the Eric Garner case and his plans to increase affordable housing at the expense of the city’s character.
Crime has also become a frequent stain on de Blasio’s tenure in office, with statistics showing that both shootings and felony assaults had both increased in number compared to last year – with de Blasio blaming the court system.
Shootings in April 2021 in New York surged by 166 per cent compared to the same month last year, and felony assaults had risen by 35.6 per cent – while crime as a whole jumped by 30.4 per cent.
High crime rates, paired with the nation’s highest tax rates have also seen many people ditching New York City for good – with the coronavirus pandemic providing the push they needed.
Bill de Blasio (pictured) has served as the 109th mayor of New York City since he was elected in back in 2014, though his time in office has been marred with controversy
De Blasio has also endured some controversial episodes during his time in office, such as in 2014. Eric Garner died after former New York City police officer Daniel Pantaleo put him into a choke hold on Staten Island – but the officer retained his job.
He has also endured a strained relationship with the NYPD, with many officers turning their backs on him during the funeral for Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos.
The two officers had been shot just weeks after de Blasio gave an interview in which he claimed to have told his son Dante, who is biracial, about the ‘dangers’ posed by the police to young black men.
Similarly, de Blasio faced backlash after he did not attend the vigil held for New York City police officer Miosotis Familia in July 2017. While speaking at Familia’s service, many police officers again chose to turn their backs on de Blasio.
Elsewhere, de Blasio has also been criticised for how he has dealt with the Covid-19 pandemic. During the second week of March 2020, he did not act to close down public schools as the virus rapidly spread.
When he eventually did give the order for schools to be shut, he was called out for having been too slow.
De Blasio has also faced criticism over a recent vaccination mandate he imposed on school staff.
It is unclear if the Sussexes – famed for their pronouncements on climate change – arrived in New York on a commercial flight or flew there by private jet.
Mayor de Blasio shared a live stream of himself and Hochul with the royal couple posing for photos in front of the observation deck’s floor-to-ceiling windows, which offer stunning views of New York and New Jersey.
He captioned the video: ‘The tragedy of September 11 touched the entire world, and it’s still felt today.
‘We’re honored to join Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, at One World Observatory.’
They put masks on to enter the building, removed them for photos at the top, then put them back on after the photo opportunity.
Afterwards, the couple came back down to ground-level, and posted with Hochul, de Blasio, the mayor’s wife and son to pose for another photo.
They hugged, smile and laughed before Harry and Meghan walked down towards the 9/11 memorial alone. A fan shouted ‘Beautiful Meghan, I love you!’ prompting the Duchess to smile and say ‘Thank you.’
The Sussexes then stood by the Memorial’s pools and looked at the names of victims inscribed on its sides. Harry put an arm around Meghan as they paid their respects. They spent several minutes by the memorial pool of the North Tower.
Meghan and Harry waved and smiled as they arrived at the World Trade Center on Thursday morning
Meghan and Harry arrived at the World Trade Center in New York for their meeting on Thursday morning
Harry arrived at One World Trade Center at 8:14am, shortly after Mayor de Blasio and Governor Kathy Hochul
Meghan gave her trademark smile as she arrived at the landmark NYC skyscraper, and showed off her huge diamond engagement ring
Harry and Megna held hands after getting out of their SUV and walking towards the Freedom Tower for the first meeting on their three day trip to New York City
They held hands as the walked up the steps of the building, with Harry giving a wave to watching fans who shouted his name on seeing him.
No details on why the royals are meeting with the Democrat lawmakers and what they plan to discuss were shared in advance.
De Blasio’s wife Chirlane McCray, 66, and the mayoral couple’s son Dante, 24, were also there to welcome the royal couple, who are visiting from their home in Montecito, California.
A small group of taxi drivers protested the event to call on Mayor de Blasio to offer additional protection for elderly yellow cab drivers who’ve been hit by the rise in popularity of ride-hailing apps such as Uber and Lyft, with security also present to guard the royals and politicians.
The royal couple ascended the Freedom Tower for a meeting with NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and NY Governor Kathy Hochul
After their trip up the Freedom Tower, Meghan and Harry will visit the nearby 9/11 memorial reflecting pools
Port Authority Police officers helped guard the royal couple as they began their first public visit to New York since moving to the United States in March 2020
Meghan produced a matching face mask as she approached the revolving door of One World Trade Center, while her husband of three years gave her a tender glance
Meghan was snapped smiling at her husband as they arrived at the entrance to One World Trade Center
Meghan was snapped donning a face mask before entering One World Trade Center to visit its observation deck
Harry also appeared to be reaching for his face mask from his jacket pocket, moments before the royals took an elevator up to the building’s 100th floor viewing deck
Thursday’s visit is the Sussexes’ first public trip to New York City since their permanent move from England to Meghan’s native California in March 2020.
One World Trade Center, also known as the Freedom Tower, opened in 2014 after the original World Trade Center Twin Towers were destroyed in the 9/11 terror attacks in September 2001.
Harry and Meghan are also set to visit the memorial to the terror attacks after leaving the observatory.
Its two giant sunken pools and cascading waterfalls have been constructed on the footprints of the original Twin Towers. The sides of the pools, which have been constructed from black stone, are inscribed with the names of the 2,977 people murdered in New York, Washington DC and Pennsylvania.
The Sussexes’ itinerary will also see them attend the Global Citizen Live concert in Central Park Saturday.
That will feature performances from artists including Coldplay, Lizzo and Jennifer Lopez, and will take place on the Manhattan park’s Great Lawn.
Harry, Meghan and other dignitaries are attending to draw attention to Global Citizen’s call for the G7 group of countries and EU to share at least 1 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines with developing countries.
The music event will form part of a 24-hour broadcast from cities around the world, which also calls for vaccine manufacturers to waive their intellectual property rights on COVID shots.
Global Citizen Live and its supporters have further called for pharmaceutical firms to share mRNA technology used to develop the vaccines with a World Health Organization-backed medical hub based in South Africa.
Harry and Meghan have become heavily-involved in philanthropy since sensationally quitting the Royal Family in January 2020, after complaining of the pressure-cooker environment and life in the spotlight.
The couple’s somber outfit choice came as they visited New York just a fortnight after the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks
New York Governor Kathy Hochul, pictured in red, arrived a few minutes before the royal couple
NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, pictured waving, was joined by his wife Chirlane McCray, pictured to his left, and their son Dante
Details on why de Blasio, Hochul and the Sussexes are meeting have yet to be released
The couple have also signed huge deals with Netflix and Spotify, rumored to be worth a combined $125 million, to produce content for the streaming and podcasting giants.
They kicked-off their new lives as aspiring media moguls with a bombshell Oprah Winfrey interview in March 2020.
The most sensational claim from the bombshell-laden chat saw Meghan, who is bi-racial, claim that an unidentified member of the royal family had voiced concerns over the skin tone of the couple’s baby while she was pregnant with Archie, who was born in May 2019.
Meghan went on to refute claims that she’d made the Duchess of Cambridge cry in the run-up to her May 2018 wedding to Harry – and allege that Kate had actually been the one to reduce her to tears.
Kate has not commented on Meghan’s counter-claim. Meanwhile, Harry confirmed a rift with his brother William, the Duke of Cambridge, and told of how his father Prince Charles – the heir to the throne – had cut him off financially.
And the couple, who were expecting their second child at the time, also revealed to Winfrey that they were expecting a girl.
Their daughter, Lilibet Diana Mountbatten-Windsor, was born in California in June.
She was given Queen Elizabeth’s childhood nickname, sparking controversy over whether the royal couple had asked permission to recycle the head of the royal household’s cherished moniker.
Harry and Meghan also paid tribute to the Duke’s late mother Diana, who was killed in a car crash in Paris in August 1997 aged 36.