Prince Harry adorably comforts a starstruck girl during his visit to Pillars with Jacinda Ardern

What a very special visit!

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex arrived in Manukau, Auckland this afternoon to visit Pillars, the charity Jacinda Ardern donated $5000 to as a wedding gift for the royal couple.

Before their royal wedding, Duchess Meghan and Prince Harry requested any wedding gifts be charitable donations, and suggested charities that support the causes close to their hearts.

Their chosen charities were the Children’s HIV Association (CHIVA), Crisis – the national charity for homeless people, the Myna Mahila Foundation (which supports women in Mumbai’s poorest areas) and Scotty’s Little Soldiers – a charity for bereaved Armed Forces children.

Jacinda Ardern decided to go a little left-field when choosing a charity. She donated $5000 to Pillars, a charity that supports children who have a parent – or parents – in prison. Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan definitely approved of Jacinda’s choice – the donation was used to create four special awards for the children.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex sit with Prime Minister Jacinda while they are welcomed to Pillars.

The couple, who had earlier visited Auckland’s North Shore for a welly-wanging competition, were welcomed to Pillars with a Karangae and taken on a tour of the organisation.

Meghan had changed from her earlier wet weather gear into a soft pink Brandon Maxwell dress and Burberry jacket, while Prince Harry looked dapper in a blue suit.

On the tour of the organisation, Duchess Meghan and Prince Harry were told all about the charity and their objectives, and learned that Pillars – which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year – is the only New Zealand charity dedicated to supporting children of prisoners.

After the tour, Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan entered an auditorium filled with 200 very excited people, including kids, families and supporters of Pillars.

A little girl in a pretty white dress handed Duchess Meghan some flowers – and then hid behind a chair! The adorable girl was very nervous and a little starstruck by the royal couple (who wouldn’t be?)

Prince Harry very sweetly tried to make her feel better. Harry squatted down, said hello and shook the little girl’s hand, however this didn’t help too much – the sweet girl proceeded to hide behind the legs of the media after that!

The couple sat down next to Jacinda Ardern, and had a chat with children, Pillars patron Sir Pita Sharples and Pillars founder Verna McFelin. After a warm welcome and prayer from Sir Pita Sharples, the crowd sung the waitata, which Harry and Meghan seemed to enjoy.

When it was Prince Harry’s turn to speak to the crowd, he spoke of how thrilled he and Meghan were to spend time at Pillars on their royal tour. He admitted that while he hadn’t heard of the charity before the $5000 donation was made on his and Meghan’s behalf, he was glad “children can have stability in times of turmoil.”

The Prince continued: “It’s been a real pleasure to meet you and four award winners. You are outstanding young people. Couldn’t be happier to support such fantastic work. Kia kaha!”

It was Meghan who presented the awards to four young adults.

Meghan with a recipient of one of the special awards.

Harry and Meghan were gifted a Pillars hoodie!

After posing for photos, the Duke and Duchess were gifted a Pillars hoodie and left for their next engagement – a public walkabout in Auckland central!

To stay up to date on Meghan and Harry’s four-day tour of New Zealand, click here.

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