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Meghan Markle shares worries for Archie and Lilibet's futures at mental health summit in New York

Prince Harry and Meghan attended their Archewell Foundation's first in-person event

Meghan Markle speaks on stage at Archewell Foundation summit
Danielle Stacey
Danielle StaceyOnline Royal CorrespondentLondon
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SUMMARY

  • Prince Harry and Meghan host mental health summit with their Archewell Foundation
  • Harry and Meghan speak on stage 
  • Duchess shares worries about children's futures
  • The Sussexes surprise students at The Marcy Lab School in Brooklyn
Danielle Stacey
Danielle StaceyOnline Royal CorrespondentLondon

Harry and Meghan return to NYC

Welcome! The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are back in the Big Apple as they host their Archewell Foundation's first-ever in-person event, coinciding with World Mental Health Day - a topic which is close to both Prince Harry and Meghan's hearts.

Harry and Meghan in classroom at Brooklyn school© Lee Morgan for The Archewell Foundation
Harry and Meghan surprised students

 But before that, Prince Harry and Meghan visited students at  The Marcy Lab School in Brooklyn, New York. 

The school is an alternative to college that prepares young adults from underestimated backgrounds for high-paying careers in tech in just one year. 

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Danielle Stacey
Danielle StaceyOnline Royal CorrespondentLondon

Back to School

Harry and Meghan told students as they arrived at The Marcy Lab School: "We're happy to be back in New York City!"

They began their visit by checking out a class starting their day with mindful meditation.  

Harry and Meghan pose with students at Meghan and Harry during a roundtable at  The Marcy Lab School in Brooklyn, New York.© Lee Morgan for The Archewell Foundation
Time for a group photo

Back in January, the Sussexes Archewell Foundation provided a grant to faculty. 

During the course, students learn how to code, but also how to hone their critical thinking skills. 

After one year in the program, graduates typically go on to earn over $100,000 per year, writing software for some of the fastest-growing companies and non-profit organizations.

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Danielle Stacey
Danielle StaceyOnline Royal CorrespondentLondon

Meghan's varsity jacket

In a nod back to her time as a working member of the royal family, Meghan sported a varsity jacket gifted to her by the students of Robert Clack school in Dagenham, East London. 

Meghan Markle  smiles with students at The Marcy Lab School in Brooklyn, New York.© Lee Morgan for The Archewell Foundation
Meghan and Harry happily posed for photos

The Duchess visited the high school on International Women's Day in March - one of her final royal engagements, before she and the Duke moved permanently to the US. 

She teamed the jacket with a black top, skinny jeans and a pair of coordinating heels, and wore her hair in an elegant side parting. 

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Danielle Stacey
Danielle StaceyOnline Royal CorrespondentLondon

Harry and Meghan arrive at Archewell's mental health summit

The event is taking place as part of Project Healthy Minds' second annual Word Mental Health Day Festival.

At 'The Archewell Foundation Parents' Summit: Mental Wellness in a Digital Age,' the couple have been joined by parents, experts and NBC's Carson Daly, who is a board member of Project Healthy Minds.

Harry and Meghan are hearing from parents who have lost a child, with the loss being linked to the impact of social media. The Duke and Duchess have personally been working with some of the parents involved.

A spokesperson for Archewell said: "The families have been engaged with The Archewell Foundation for the past year, bolstering community and driving towards solutions. 

"Together, they are united in their mission to share personal experiences, data, and research to ensure the same does not happen to other families."

"Harry and Meghan will also make a personal appearance at the event, taking part in a discussion with Surgeon General Vivek Murthy to discuss the importance of campaigns focused on mental health. This discussion will be moderated by Carson Daly, who is a board member of Project Healthy Minds."

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Danielle Stacey
Danielle StaceyOnline Royal CorrespondentLondon

Striving for a safer online world

Harry has previously spoken out about online safety and made a virtual appearance at the 5Rights Foundation’s Global Child Online Safety Toolkit in May last year. 

The Duke, who is father to four-year-old Archie and two-year-old Lilibet, said at the time: "My kids are too young to have experienced the online world yet and I hope that they never have to experience it as it exists now – No kid should have to."

He added: "My two little ones are still of the age of innocence. Sometimes I feel I can keep them away from the online harms that they could face in the future forever but I am learning to know better.

"As parents, my wife and I are concerned about the next generation growing up in a world where they are treated as digital experiments."

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Danielle Stacey
Danielle StaceyOnline Royal CorrespondentLondon

Harry & Meghan's last visit to New York

Meghan Markle, Prince Harry and Doria Women of Vision awards© Getty
Doria, Harry and Meghan at the Ms. Foundation Women of Vision Awards

The Sussexes' last visit to the Big Apple was back in May, when Meghan was honored at the Ms. Foundation's Women of Vision Awards.

Dazzling in a gold strapless dress by Johanna Ortiz, the Duchess gave a speech after accepting her award on stage. 

She said: "Because of this foundation, so many of our youth have been instilled with self-worth and limitless possibility no matter their race, gender, class, sexual orientation, disability or age. Your collective work in pursuit of a world where every person is truly valued is nothing short of awe inspiring,"

Meghan was joined at the event by Harry and her mother, Doria Ragland. 

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Danielle Stacey
Danielle StaceyOnline Royal CorrespondentLondon

The Sussexes appear on stage

Grieving parents have shared how the Archewell Foundation has brought them together, and connected them with families who have experienced child loss, connected to their child's social media use. 

The families have shared personal experiences, data and research to ensure this does not happen to other families.

Introduced by Carson Daly, Harry and Meghan appeared on stage to talk about making a positive change. 

WATCH: Meghan Markle reveals hopes for a safer future

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Danielle Stacey
Danielle StaceyOnline Royal CorrespondentLondon

Meghan: 'Burden can't solely be on parents'

The Duchess of Sussex says that the burden shouldn't be placed solely on parents to keep their children safe on social media. 

Meghan added: "Many of the platforms that we've had conversations quietly behind the scenes with these tech executives and they do feel that they have created and they have, many of them, created parental controls and certain guardrails, much of which many parents, if you aren't tech savvy, you can't navigate that comfortably, it feels pretty overwhelming. 

"So there has to be a better solution than that, of course."

WATCH: Meghan Markle says social media needs to adapt to keep children safe

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Danielle Stacey
Danielle StaceyOnline Royal CorrespondentLondon

Duchess shares worries for Archie and Lilibet's futures

Meghan spoke about how online safety is a priority for the Archewell Foundation, but also as a mom. 

"Being a mom is the most important thing in my entire life… outside of course, being a wife to this one," she began, and smiled at her husband. 

"But I will say I feel fortunate that our children are at an age, again quite young, so this isn't in our immediate future, but I also feel frightened by how it's continuing to change and this will be in front of us. 

"They say being a parent - the days are long, but the years are short. 

"So it worries me, but I'm also given a lot of hope and a lot of energy by the progress we've made in the past year."

WATCH: Meghan Markle: 'Being a mom is the important thing'

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Danielle Stacey
Danielle StaceyOnline Royal CorrespondentLondon

Harry: 'A community of shared experience'

During their opening remarks, Harry and Meghan paid tribute to the parents they've met. 

The Duke said: “I can’t start without thanking all the parents, the mothers and fathers that have been here today, for being with us physically here today – but also being on this journey for the last year, creating this community of shared experience.”

Harry speaks on stage at Archewell Foundation mental health summit© Getty
Harry and Meghan have long been advocates for a safer online world

The Duchess said: “A year ago we met some of the families, not all of them. At that time, it was impossible to not be in tears as I’m sure so many of you have been today hearing these stories.

“As parents, our kids are really young – they’re two-and-a-half and four-and-a-half – but social media is not going away.

“I think by design, there is an entry point that is supposed to be positive, in creating community and something has devolved, and there is no way to hear that and not try to help these families have their stories be heard.”

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Danielle Stacey
Danielle StaceyOnline Royal CorrespondentLondon

Sussex style

The Duchess wore chic separates from Altuzarra for her appearance at the mental health summit. 

Meghan Markle wearing off-the-shoulder top at mental health summit in New York© Getty
Meghan looks gorgeous in a bardot-style top

Meghan teamed her two-piece with camel pumps from Aquazzura and gold bespoke earrings by Sarah Hendler. 

Her brunette locks were styled in her signature updo, with loose tendrils framing her face, while she opted for a metallic smoky eye makeup look and a pop of highlighter on her cheeks. 

Meanwhile, Harry looked smart in a black suit with a light blue shirt and tie. 

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Justin Ravitz
Justin RavitzEditorial Director, U.S.New York

HELLO! US joins Harry & Meghan at Archewell Foundation's first summit

Let's be real: I've been stressed. Last night, after hours in traffic, it took me one and a half hours to find a parking space at home in Brooklyn, I've been sleeping badly, I skipped a workout, I feel weird about my upcoming birthday, and have an unhealthy relationship with my phone. 

So maybe today was the absolute perfect one to acknowledge and think about World Mental Health Day — and to attend today's Archewell Foundation at The Shed in Hudson Yards with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle just across the room from me.  

(It wasn't a massive event: Just a couple hundreds folks, and maybe a dozen print, non-broadcast journalists, were there.)

Harry and Meghan © Getty
Harry and Meghan were joined on stage by Carson Daly and Dr. Vivek H. Murthy

Today's 90-minute summit was glamorous, of course, what with two of the world's most talked-about expat royals in attendance (and Today's Carson Daly and U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, too). But it was also very intense, emotional, and raw in a way I wasn't expecting. 

As noted, this event specifically was called the "Parents' Summit: Mental Wellness in a Digital Age." Before the Duke and Duchess took the stage, two panels, moderated by the Foundation's Co-Executive Directors Shauna Nep and James Holt, featured parents who've tragically lost their children to suicide thanks to the toxic, sometimes lethal combination of social media and technology. 

Grieving mom and dad Toney and Brandy Roberts cried as they remembered their daughter Englyn, and read aloud a private note she wrote on her phone weeks before taking her own life. Dave and Jennie DeSerio were likewise tearful as they paid tribute to their son Nathan, an "all-American kid," a football player who radiated "this caring, loving energy," according to his father.

Harry and Meghan shared why having a safer online world is so important to them© Getty
Harry and Meghan shared why having a safer online world is so important to them

It was hard hearing these parents, who notably were attentive and close with their sweet, talented, loving kids, with very little inkling of their offspring's secret mental health struggles and the way mobile phones and social media apps exacerbate problems and isolate them — and it was profoundly inspirational to hear how the Archewell Foundation helped these grieving families feel less alone, introducing them to one another, and fostering a community of families with a heartbreaking shared histories.

After these sober and bittersweet panels, wiping a few tears away, it was no less thrilling to see Harry and Meghan begin their own talk with Carson Daly and Vivek Murthy.  

Harry and Meghan on stage at Archewell Foundation mental health summit© Getty
Meghan and Harry were moved by the families' stories

I mean, Harry and Meghan! Everyone's got an opinion on them! (Meghan is absolutely stunning, by the way, and Harry is handsome.) But the throughline between these families and Harry and Meghan's own wasn't hard to see. Not just because of what their foundation aims to do to find solutions for more responsible, humane and ethical technology and platforms — to lessen the burden of individual parents and to challenge tech companies, too — but also because of their role as parents to two very young children who haven't (we assume) demanded an ipad or an iphone or a TikTok account. 

Because of all they've shared about their own battles with mental health. Because they've started a much talked-about new life in Montecito, in part to find greater happiness and health for themselves. It's a cliche, but it's true: We're all on a journey, Meg and Harry included. Happy World Mental Health Day.

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