Meghan Markle gives International Women’s Day message to men

Meghan Markle shocked a school in the United Kingdom with a surprise visit, asking the men to honor the women in their lives.

Prince Harry’s wife Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, visited the school Friday to offer an International Women’s Day message.

“You have your mothers, sisters, girlfriends, friends in your life, protect them,” she said. “Make sure that they are feeling valued and safe. And let’s all just rally together to make International Women’s Day something that is not just on Sunday, but frankly feels like every day of the year.”

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Britain's Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, joins in a discussion of the "Senior Debate Squad" at the Robert Clack Upper School in Dagenham, Essex, in eastern London, during a surprise visit to celebrate International Women's Day, Friday. (Ben Stansall/Pool via AP)

Britain’s Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, joins in a discussion of the “Senior Debate Squad” at the Robert Clack Upper School in Dagenham, Essex, in eastern London, during a surprise visit to celebrate International Women’s Day, Friday. (Ben Stansall/Pool via AP)

The surprise visit took place at the Robert Clack Upper School in Dagenham in east London. The community was the site of famous strikes by female sewing machinists at a Ford plant, an equal pay fight depicted in the 2010 film “Made in Dagenham.”

In one of her final duties as a senior British royal, Meghan urged the boys in the school assembly of 700 students to “continue to value and appreciate the women in your lives and also set the example for some men who are not seeing it that same way.”

Britain's Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, is greeted by pupils at the Robert Clack Upper School in Dagenham, Essex, in eastern London, during a surprise visit to celebrate International Women's Day, Friday. (Ben Stansall/Pool via AP)

Britain’s Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, is greeted by pupils at the Robert Clack Upper School in Dagenham, Essex, in eastern London, during a surprise visit to celebrate International Women’s Day, Friday. (Ben Stansall/Pool via AP)

In February, a spokesperson for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex told People: “The Duke and Duchess will be spending their time in both the United Kingdom and North America. In addition to continuing to work closely with their existing patronages as they build a plan for engagements in the U.K. and the Commonwealth throughout the year, the Duke and Duchess have also been undertaking meetings as part of their ongoing work to establish a new nonprofit organization. The details of this new organization will be shared later in the year.”

The Duchess of Sussex asked for a male volunteer to offer his thoughts on the importance of International Women’s Day.

Aker Okoye, 16, raced to the stage, greeting her with what appeared to be an air kiss to her cheek.

“She really is beautiful, innit?” he said as he took the podium. “I had to speak the truth there.”

Britain's Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, is presented with an item of school clothing as she joins in a discussion of the "Senior Debate Squad" at the Robert Clack Upper School in Dagenham, Essex, in eastern London, during a surprise visit to celebrate International Women's Day, Friday. (Ben Stansall/Pool via AP)

Britain’s Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, is presented with an item of school clothing as she joins in a discussion of the “Senior Debate Squad” at the Robert Clack Upper School in Dagenham, Essex, in eastern London, during a surprise visit to celebrate International Women’s Day, Friday. (Ben Stansall/Pool via AP)

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Meghan gave him a hug and later praised his “incredible confidence.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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