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Meghan Markle reads her children's book to kids at Harlem school

The Sussexes continued their tour of New York

Danielle Stacey

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex surprised students at a Harlem school on Friday as they continued their tour of New York.

Prince Harry and Meghan joined Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter at P.S. 123 Mahalia Jackson to highlight school initiatives and to promote early literacy. 

During the visit, the Duchess read her best-selling children's book, The Bench, to a class of second graders, and she and Harry were shown a mural painting by fourth and fifth grade students. 

Meghan's debut book tells the story of the special relationship between father and son, as seen through a mother's eyes, and the Duchess has previously revealed that Harry and firstborn, Archie, were the inspiration behind it.  

To support the school's ongoing community efforts, Harry and Meghan are donating two garden boxes filled with vegetables and herbs to support a growing need in the community for easy access to fresh and healthy food. 

RELATED: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's first outing in New York

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WATCH: Meghan Markle reads her children's book to kids at Harlem school

Through their Archewell Foundation's partnership with Proctor & Gamble, they are providing health and hygiene products at the families at the school, and in addition, a washing machine and dryer for the school to use for students' uniforms. 

The Duchess is also donating reading nooks to many Graham Windham locations in New York, to support families' access to books. 

As the couple arrived at the school's playground, they were asked how their children, Archie, two, and three-month-old Lilibet were doing. "They're good!" Meghan responded. 

Harry donned a grey jumper and beige chinos for the outing, while Meghan looked elegant in a burgundy coat and matching trousers with suede heels. The couple both wore face masks throughout their engagement. 

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Meghan looked gorgeous in a burgundy ensemble

Art teacher James Reynolds tells HELLO!: "It was really extraordinary because [Meghan] just wrote a book. We just got back into school after a year and a half and the kids were really excited about creating this mural because it was a complete surprise to them, and so being able to meet her was a chance of a lifetime.

"So everybody was really excited, it was a secret from all of us over the course of the week, so it was just a marvellous experience for them to come. And for her to read, she said the only other time she's read the book was to her own children."

He added that the pupils "were just eternally grateful that [Meghan] took the time to stop by". 

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Meghan read to children at the school

The Sussexes began their trip on Thursday with a visit to the One World Observatory, joining New York City mayor Bill de Blasio and Governor of New York State Kathy Hochul.

It marked their first outing since stepping back from royal duties in March 2020, and since the birth of their daughter, Lilibet, in June. 

When asked if they were enjoying being in New York, with Meghan replying: "It's wonderful to be back."

Later in the day, Harry and Meghan, in partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO), hosted a roundtable with global leaders on achieving vaccine equity.

MORE: Prince Harry's accessory has the sweetest nod to son Archie during New York trip

MORE: Meghan Markle steps out in New York in the autumn outfit of our dreams

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Harry accompanied his wife on the trip

The Duke and Duchess said: "Today's meeting was a much-appreciated opportunity to learn from some of the most-respected experts who are working tirelessly to end this pandemic.

"Building on ongoing conversations we've had with global leaders over the past 18 months, today further reinforced our commitment to vaccine equity. We're so encouraged by the spirit of collaboration we heard throughout our conversation and are eager to do our part."

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The Bench, £8, Amazon

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The couple will also attend the 24-hour broadcast Global Citizen Live being staged in New York's famous Central Park and around the world on Saturday.

It is part of a number of shows being held in cities as varied as London to Lagos by the organisation Global Citizen, with artists like Ed Sheeran, Sir Elton John, Kylie Minogue, Metallica and Coldplay scheduled to perform.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have advocated for vaccine equity and urged people to support the Global Citizen COVAX campaign in honour of their son Archie's second birthday in May.

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