Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's heartfelt tribute to 'friend' Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Prince Harry, Meghan Markle, Archie and Desmond Tutu
(Image credit: WireImage)

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have released a statement paying tribute to their 'friend' Archbishop Desmond Tutu who died on Boxing Day.

  • The Duke and Duchess of Sussex and their son Archie met Tutu during their South African royal tour in September 2019. With the couple sharing an adorable photo captioned 'Arch meets Archie!'
  • Following his death, the royal couple shared a statement remembering the "icon" who helped bring an end to the Apartheid system in South Africa.
  • This royal news (opens in new tab) comes after Kate Middleton was spotted Christmas shopping in The Range (opens in new tab) ahead of Queen's special gift exchange

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have honoured the late Archbishop Desmond Tutu in a moving statement following his death aged 90 on Boxing Day.

The royal couple shared some kind words on the Archbishop's character and reminisced on their first meeting during their tour of South Africa in September 2019. Prince Harry and Meghan met with Tutu and his daughter Thandeka at The Legacy Foundation in Cape Town, taking along their then 4-month-old son, marking Archie's first public appearance. Adorable photos after the event showed the baby smiling with his parents and the Nobel Peace prizewinner.

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"Archbishop Tutu will be remembered for his optimism, his moral clarity, and his joyful spirit. He was an icon for racial justice and beloved across the world," the couple's statement read.

"It was only two years ago that he held our son, Archie, while we were in South Africa – 'Arch and The Arch' he had joked, his infectious laughter ringing through the room, relaxing anyone in his presence. He remained a friend and will be sorely missed by all."

A close ally of Nelson Mandela, Tutu was a leading figure in the movement that worked towards ending the Apartheid system in South Africa. This saw a discriminatory and racial segregration policy enforced by a white minority government over the black majority between 1948 and 1991.

In 1984, Tutu was awarded the Nobel Peace prize for his efforts in abolishing the rule. He remained an advocate and campaigner for equality in his remaining years, advocating on climate change, social reform and LGBTQ+ rights.

Meghan with Archie and Desmond Tutu

Credit: Toby Melville/Pool/Samir Hussein/WireImage

At the time of their meeting in September 2019, the Duchess of Sussex - who cooed over baby Archie - reflected on what a momentous meeting it was for her son.

"I think Archie will look back at that in so many years and understand that right at the beginning of his life he was fortunate enough to have this moment with one of the best and most impactful leaders of out times... It’s really special," she said.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were not the only royals to pay their respects following the Archbishop's passing.

Queen Elizabeth II (opens in new tab) said in a statement: "I am joined by the whole Royal Family in being deeply saddened by the news of the death of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a man who tirelessly championed human rights in South Africa and across the world.

"I remember with fondness my meetings with him and his great warmth and humour. Archbishop Tutu’s loss will be felt by the people of South Africa, and by so many people in Great Britain, Northern Ireland and across the Commonwealth, where he was held in such high affection and esteem."

News of Tutu's death was shared in a statement on behalf of his family by Dr. Ramphela Mamphele, acting chairperson of the Archbishop Desmond Tutu IP Trust. He said that the 90 year old "died peacefully" at the Oasis Frail Care Centre, Cape Town on Boxing Day morning.