March 08, 2018
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are celebrating International Women’s Day by encouraging schoolgirls to break down gender stereotypes by pursuing careers in science, maths and engineering.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle urge schoolgirls to break gender stereotypes on International Women’s Day
The Royal couple travelled to Birmingham to attend an event where young women are taking part in a range of activities from speed networking opportunities with local businesses to a panel discussion.
The couple were greeted by John Crabtree, Lord Lieutenant of the West Midlands. Ms Markle wore a coat by J Crew, trousers by Alexander Wang and an All Saints jumper.
Harry and Meghan went on a walkabout shaking hands and greeting around 300 well-wishers and school children who had waited patiently to meet them.
Two elderly sisters, Irene Gould, 82, and her younger sibling June Dickinson, 78, were also ecstatic after meeting Harry and his fiancee.
Mrs Gould said: "We were just so pleased to meet them, and how beautiful Meghan is. We thanked Harry for coming to see us and wished them all the best for their marriage."
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle urge schoolgirls to break gender stereotypes on International Women’s Day
Student Charlotte Highsmith, from Oxford, was overcome with excitement after meeting Meghan and said: "Oh my God, it was worth the wait - I've missed my lecture."
The 20-year-old, who is studying criminology and policing at Birmingham City University, added: "Meghan just thanked us for waiting in the rain for her, but it wasn't a problem."
The visit is the latest leg in the regional tours the prince and his fiancee are undertaking in the run-up to their May wedding, and follows trips to Edinburgh, Nottingham, Cardiff and Brixton in south London.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle urge schoolgirls to break gender stereotypes on International Women’s Day
The events are giving Ms Markle a personal education in the issues faced in parts of the UK and nationally, and complement the private visits she is regularly making to organisations as she gets to know the UK charity sector.
Thursday's highly-anticipated visit comes after it emerged Ms Markle has reportedly been baptised and confirmed in the Church of England at a private ceremony led by the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Birmingham's visit began with the now familiar walkabout before Harry and Ms Markle chatted to young women as they took part in building apps and touchpads, before hearing more about their motivations to pursue science, technology, engineering and maths (Stem) subjects.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle urge schoolgirls to break gender stereotypes on International Women’s Day
Hosted by social enterprise Stemettes at Millennium Point, the event also offers information on work experience, apprenticeships, A-level choices, and university degrees in Stem topics.
Harry and Ms Markle started the event by trying virtual headsets with students from Blessed Edward Oldcorne School in Birmingham. The couple tried on the headsets, which resembled a virtual rollercoaster.
Ms Markle asked the students what they wanted to do as a career and was impressed with the answers of surgeons and doctors. The pupils described the experience as surreal after the couple shook their hands and went on to other workshops.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle urge schoolgirls to break gender stereotypes on International Women’s Day
After finishing talking through various pieces of technology with the students, the pair sat together to listen to speeches from inspiring women in Stem industries.
Ms Markle was shocked by some of the technology on display, including pianos made out of bananas and how to "hack the web".
She told some students that the coding they were working on was very impressive, saying: "Wow, that's really cool."
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle urge schoolgirls to break gender stereotypes on International Women’s Day
Prince Harry shared his finance's thoughts and encouraged the talented students to go into careers in science and maths.
The couple left the event after both were given a goody bag which said: "I am not just a bag, I am a Stemettes bag." They received a huge round of applause from the 90 female students as they made their way to their next event.
The couple also gave prizes to three winners of a speech-writing competition in which they spoke about their most inspiring women. Harry and Ms Markle nodded in approval after each of the speeches and gave all three a generous clap at the end.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle urge schoolgirls to break gender stereotypes on International Women’s Day
The Coach Core apprenticeship scheme was designed by the Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry to train people aged 16 - 24 with limited opportunities to become sports coaches and mentors within their communities.
During the year-long apprenticeship, which now operates in 10 cities across the UK, young people learn technical sport skills alongside an inclusive and holistic approach to coaching, with an emphasis on employability and mentoring skills.
Ms Markle is due to become the fourth patron of the Royal Foundation when she marries the prince and the couple will chat to the apprentices about their experiences of the programme, launched in Birmingham in March last year, before joining them in the sports hall as they deliver practice training sessions.

Royal well-wishers brave cold to greet couple
Well-wishers began gathering hours before the prince and his bride-to-be were due to appear at Millennium Point.
Despite the cold and wet conditions some in the crowds were eagerly awaiting the arrival of the couple who have been touring the nation since their engagement announcement last year.
Stephen McNally, 61, from Stourbridge, said he travelled with a group of friends with many of them carrying bouquets for Ms Markle.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle urge schoolgirls to break gender stereotypes on International Women’s Day
Commenting on Harry's engagement to the American actress he said: "It will be different for her but I think they've learnt a lot from the past and that is why Meghan is doing these walkabouts and going round the country before she's getting married, I think it's really nice, rather than keeping things a secret like they used to do.
"We hope to be going to Windsor for the wedding, on the streets or in the castle precinct."
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle urge schoolgirls to break gender stereotypes on International Women’s Day
Retired teacher Josie Weeks, 62, from Leeds, got up at 5am to travel to Birmingham for the royal visit and carried a posy of white blooms for Ms Markle.
She said: "I met the couple in Nottingham and just wanted to see them again and take some photographs. I think Harry's really coming into himself now with his charity work - he's stepped it up in the last few years.
"The main thing is if he's happy with Meghan, that's all you want for him."

Prince Harry: 'We want to get away from idea it’s all men in overalls and oily rags'
On Wednesday, Prince Harry met young people from the Williams F1 Engineering Academy during a visit to Silverstone.
Talking to female students Tara Vooght and Lauren Bull, both 15, who are studying there with the hope of going on to be engineers, he told them: “It’s a great choice, we want to get away from [the idea] that it’s all men in overalls and oily rags.
“Do you think think that girls want to be [in engineering] and there aren’t opportunities or it is not really considered by them?”
“There are a lot of stereotypes,” said Tara. “What men covered in grease?” asked Harry.
“Yes, but it's not like that. There was a bit of adjustment at first from being at school but we are loving it.”

Duchess of Cornwall also marking International Women’s Day
The couple are not the only members of the Royal Family to mark International Women’s Day.
The Duchess of Cornwall will host a reception at Clarence House to celebrate the day, in her role as president of the Southbank Centre’s Women of the World festival.
Guests are expected to include Annie Lennox, Mary Portas, Kate Mosse OBE, Fatima Manji, Josette Bushell-Mingo, Kathy Lette, Reni Eddo-Lodge, Baroness Valerie Amos, Jo Swinson MP and Jess Phillips MP.
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