Don’t they know there’s pandemic? Meghan and Harry hug hoards of kids during visit to Harlem school

Social distancing appeared to be a distant memory for  Prince Harry and Meghan Markle during a visit to a school in Harlem on Friday.

The Sussexes arrived at Harlem’s PS 123 Mahalia Jackson school where they were photographed hugging dozens of unvaccinated school children. 

Masks have been mandatory in schools across the state since New York Governor Kathy Hochul reimplemented the mask mandate since taking last month.

The official order requires students, faculty and staff for all grade levels wear face masks in both public and private schools. 

The public safety measure comes at a time when children under the age of 12 have yet to get approval for a COVID-19 vaccine, and a nearly out of control variant makes up the majority of new cases. 

Masks are not required for students eating lunch outside or for those who participate in outdoor sports but those who were meeting the Duke and Duchess all appeared to be wearing face coverings.

It all got too much for some of the children who were reduced to tears as they were embraced by the former working members of the royal family.       

Meghan Markle hugs children at the PS 123 Mahalia Jackson school in Harlem during Friday's visit where she read her book

Meghan Markle hugs children at the PS 123 Mahalia Jackson school in Harlem during Friday’s visit where she read her book

It all got too much for some of the children who grew emotional as they received hugs from the former working members of the royal family

It all got too much for some of the children who grew emotional as they received hugs from the former working members of the royal family

Harry hugs an emotional student during their visit which was touted as a way to promote early literacy for children

Harry hugs an emotional student during their visit which was touted as a way to promote early literacy for children 

Students are required to wear masks while inside at school but outdoors the rules are relaxed

Students are required to wear masks while inside at school but outdoors the rules are relaxed 

Dozens of children at the school were able to grab a hug with the duke and duchess during their visit to a Harlem school

Dozens of children at the school were able to grab a hug with the duke and duchess during their visit to a Harlem school 

There were no social distancing regulations adhered to during the visited by the duke and duchess

There were no social distancing regulations adhered to during the visited by the duke and duchess

Prince Harry bent down to receive hugs from several of the school children at the Harlem school

Prince Harry bent down to receive hugs from several of the school children at the Harlem school 

The prince is seen embracing a group of children at the school which is supported in part by nonprofit Graham Windham

The prince is seen embracing a group of children at the school which is supported in part by nonprofit Graham Windham

Meghan hugs students at PS 123 Mahalia Jackson school in Harlem, New York City, during the visit Friday morning

Meghan hugs students at PS 123 Mahalia Jackson school in Harlem, New York City, during the visit Friday morning 

Meghan donated copies of her book to the school and the students presented her with paper hearts of pink and white with drawings and messages as the Sussexes left the school

Meghan donated copies of her book to the school and the students presented her with paper hearts of pink and white with drawings and messages as the Sussexes left the school

Harry jokes around with the children. Data from NYC Department of Education reveals an estimated 95 percent of students at the public school fall on the economic need index

Harry jokes around with the children. Data from NYC Department of Education reveals an estimated 95 percent of students at the public school fall on the economic need index

Meghan chats with a little girl in the outdoor tent area at the Harlem school which was set up for the reading event

Meghan chats with a little girl in the outdoor tent area at the Harlem school which was set up for the reading event

Meghan and Harry hug people at the school goodbye as they leave to embark on the remainder of their day's meetings

Meghan and Harry hug people at the school goodbye as they leave to embark on the remainder of their day’s meetings

The Sussexes came to the school alongside New York City Schools’ Chancellor Meisha Porter late Friday morning, after leaving their luxury hotel in Manhattan in their fleet of gas-guzzling SUVs for day two of their three-day New York City tour. 

Meghan sported a $5,840 Loro Piana cashmere coat and matching $1,680 pants for her visit to the public school which serves shelters for families without permanent homes. Her shoes are thought to be $665 Manolo Blahnik red suede pointed toe pumps.

She accessorized her look with around $387,000 worth of jewelry including her $350,000 engagement ring, a $4,500 diamond ring from her first public engagement with Harry as his fiancee, Princess Diana’s $23,000 Cartier Tank watch, a $6,900 Cartier Love bracelet, and a $3,000 Jennifer Meyer tennis bracelet. 

While there was no expense spared for Meghan’s outfit for the visit – which designed to promote early literacy – data from NYC Department of Education reveals an estimated 95 percent of students at the public school fall on the economic need index.

The index means they face economic hardship, based on temporary housing, eligibility for public assistance and Census poverty rates.

A total of 94 percent of students are also eligible for free meals, according to Public School Review. This compares to 51 percent of students across the state.  

The couple appeared to have worked up an appetite during the visit as they then headed on to local soul food joint Melba’s for a bite to eat.   

Meghan wore a $7,500 designer pant suit and around $400,000 worth of jewelry to Harlem's PS 123 Mahalia Jackson school

Meghan wore a $7,500 designer pant suit and around $400,000 worth of jewelry to Harlem’s PS 123 Mahalia Jackson school 

Meghan sported a $5,840 cashmere coat and matching $1,680 pants

Around 94 percent of students at the school are eligible for free meals, according to Public School Review

Meghan sported a $5,840 cashmere coat and matching $1,680 pants for her visit to the public school where 94 percent of students are eligible for free meals, according to Public School Review

Meghan holds up some pink paper hearts which the children have illustrated and gave to her as a gift before they left

Meghan holds up some pink paper hearts which the children have illustrated and gave to her as a gift before they left 

Meghan looks through the drawings gifted to her from the children at the school following her reading of her book

Meghan looks through the drawings gifted to her from the children at the school following her reading of her book 

Meghan is seen reading her book The Bench to a group of second-grade students under a white tent in the playground

Meghan is seen reading her book The Bench to a group of second-grade students under a white tent in the playground 

Harry is seen sitting among the second-grade students on the ground as they enjoy storytime with his wife Meghan

Harry is seen sitting among the second-grade students on the ground as they enjoy storytime with his wife Meghan 

The couple arrive at Melba's soul food restaurant in Harlem for a spot of lunch. The local eatery is known for its southern fried chicken

The couple arrive at Melba’s soul food restaurant in Harlem for a spot of lunch. The local eatery is known for its southern fried chicken

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex arrive at Melba's Harlem restaurant for lunch after spending their morning at the school

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex arrive at Melba’s Harlem restaurant for lunch after spending their morning at the school

The couple pop in to the iconic Harlem joint for a bite to eat. The restaurant is known for its home-cooked soul food

The couple pop in to the iconic Harlem joint for a bite to eat. The restaurant is known for its home-cooked soul food 

After visiting the Harlem school, Meghan and Harry stopped by at Melba's soul food restaurant in Harlem (seen leaving)

After visiting the Harlem school, Meghan and Harry stopped by at Melba’s soul food restaurant in Harlem (seen leaving)

Meghan is spotted leaving Melba's, which was founded by Harlem native Melba Wilson

Meghan is spotted leaving Melba's, which was founded by Harlem native Melba Wilson

Meghan is spotted leaving Melba’s, which was founded by Harlem native Melba Wilson. It ties in with their focus on promoting vaccine equity – as it partnered with the city to become a COVID-19 vaccine pop-up last month

Data from the NYC Department of Education shows 95% of students at the school fall onto the economic need index

Data from the NYC Department of Education shows 95% of students at the school fall onto the economic need index 

The restaurant, founded by Harlem native Melba Wilson, ties in well with the Sussexes’ whistlestop tour promoting vaccine equity as it became a COVID-19 vaccine pop-up to try to boost take-up in the neighborhood. 

The couple had been spotted exiting the Carlyle Hotel on Manhattan’s Upper East Side with their beefed-up security to embark on what is expected to be another day of mystery meetings and engagements around the Big Apple.  

The couple kicked off the first day of their tour Thursday rubbing shoulders with New York lawmakers and UN officials as well as paying their respects to the victims of the September 11 terrorist attacks at Ground Zero.

They also visited the offices of the World Health Organization (WHO) where they held a meeting with Chelsea Clinton, health officials and other experts to discuss vaccine equity – ahead of their appearance at Saturday’s Global Citizen concert.

Last night, Harry, 37, was then spotted in Bemelmans Bar in the Carlyle Hotel chatting animatedly with the people at his table – with no sign of Meghan, 40, in sight. 

They are staying at the lavish hotel, where top-tier rooms cost up to $8,800 a night, during what is their first major public appearance since they shocked the world by stepping back as senior working members of the royal family last January.      

Both Meghan and Harry opted for more casual looks for the visit to the school in Harlem Friday, compared to their business-like attire the day before.

The duchess opted for a head to toe red number, with loose-fitting pants, stiletto court shoes and coat. The pant suit is by Loro Piana with the coat costing $5,840 and the pants $1,680. 

For a second day in a row, she appeared to dress for winter in the cashmere coat – after social media users were baffled by her choice of black turtle neck and heavy coats during Thursday’s outing despite New York City’s balmy 80F heat.  

The prince, meanwhile, swapped his formal suits for beige chinos and a long-sleeve navy polo shirt for the school visit, was touted as a way to promote early literacy. 

The couple sported matching black face masks as they greeted children in the playground of the public school, who showed the couple a brightly colored mural they had made.  

Meghan and Harry chatted to the children, hugging many of them and posing for photos by the colorful display. 

One of the students was seen getting emotional during the visit and was reduced to tears as she was given a hug from the prince. 

Meghan then took to the stage at an outdoor reading event to read her children’s book The Bench to a group of second-grade students. 

Harry sat cross-legged on a cushion on  the ground with around two dozen seven-year-olds as they listened to the duchess read aloud from the book. 

‘I wrote this when we just had our little boy, and I haven’t read it to any other kids but you,’ she told the children. 

After reading the book, she then took questions from some of the students and asked them what special place they share with the important people in their lives.

‘It doesn’t have to be a bench. It can be anywhere where you feel comfortable,’ she told them. 

The Bench, released on June 8, explores the ‘special bond between father and son’ as ‘seen through a mother’s eyes’.  

Meghan has previously said the book was inspired by a poem she wrote for Harry on his first Father’s Day – one month after Archie was born. 

Illustrations throughout are inspired by the Sussex family – including their daughter Lilibet Diana who was only born four days before its release and after the illustrations were drawn.    

Meghan beams as she arrives at the local food joint in Harlem for a pit stop during day two of their tour of New York City

Meghan beams as she arrives at the local food joint in Harlem for a pit stop during day two of their tour of New York City 

The couple are seen leaving the Harlem restaurant after stopping by for a bite to eat. It isn't clear what they ate but the restaurant is known for its southern fried chicken and eggnog waffles

The couple are seen leaving the Harlem restaurant after stopping by for a bite to eat. It isn’t clear what they ate but the restaurant is known for its southern fried chicken and eggnog waffles

Meghan and Harry pose for photos with the school children in Harlem, New York City, on the second day of their tour

Meghan and Harry pose for photos with the school children in Harlem, New York City, on the second day of their tour 

Meghan poses with a group of students and staff at the public school in the heart of Harlem during the Friday morning visit

Meghan poses with a group of students and staff at the public school in the heart of Harlem during the Friday morning visit 

Students showed the couple a brightly colored mural in the playground, before they posed for photos in front of it

Students showed the couple a brightly colored mural in the playground, before they posed for photos in front of it

Meghan and Harry hug people at the school goodbye as they leave to embark on the remainder of their day's meetings

Meghan and Harry hug people at the school goodbye as they leave to embark on the remainder of their day’s meetings 

Harry chats to a student in the playground as they gather to sit and listen to Meghan reading out her children's book

Harry chats to a student in the playground as they gather to sit and listen to Meghan reading out her children’s book 

Meghan Markle arrives at a school in Harlem, Manhattan, to kick off day two of their three-day New York City tour

Meghan Markle arrives at a school in Harlem, Manhattan, to kick off day two of their three-day New York City tour

Harry steps out of his gas-guzzling SUV to arrive at Harlem's PS 123 Mahalia Jackson school for Friday morning's visit

Harry steps out of his gas-guzzling SUV to arrive at Harlem’s PS 123 Mahalia Jackson school for Friday morning’s visit

Meghan and Harry donated copies of her book The Bench to the school as well as two garden boxes filled with vegetables

Meghan and Harry donated copies of her book The Bench to the school as well as two garden boxes filled with vegetables

Meghan and Harry donated copies of her book The Bench to the school as well as two garden boxes filled with vegetables

The Sussexes posed for photos with students at PS 123 Mahalia Jackson school as they showed the couple a mural in the yard

The Sussexes posed for photos with students at PS 123 Mahalia Jackson school as they showed the couple a mural in the yard

Meghan read her children's book The Bench to a group of second-grade students (aged around seven) at the public school

Meghan read her children’s book The Bench to a group of second-grade students (aged around seven) at the public school

Meghan waves at the students as the couple arrive at the Harlem school Friday on day two of their New York City trip

Meghan waves at the students as the couple arrive at the Harlem school Friday on day two of their New York City trip 

Harry joins the children on the ground as they sit and listen to Meghan reading from her children's book The Bench

Harry joins the children on the ground as they sit and listen to Meghan reading from her children’s book The Bench 

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle visited the school in Harlem where 94 percent of children are eligible for free meals

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle visited the school in Harlem where 94 percent of children are eligible for free meals

Second-grade students sit cross-legged on green cushions in the school playground to listen to Meghan read The Bench

Second-grade students sit cross-legged on green cushions in the school playground to listen to Meghan read The Bench 

The couple sported matching black face masks as they greeted children in the playground of the public school

The couple sported matching black face masks as they greeted children in the playground of the public school

The Sussexes arrive at the Harlem school Friday before Meghan read her book to a group of seven-year-old students

The Sussexes arrive at the Harlem school Friday before Meghan read her book to a group of seven-year-old students 

The Sussexes pose for photos with the students at the school where they donated two garden boxes with vegetables

The Sussexes pose for photos with the students at the school where they donated two garden boxes with vegetables

The Bench, released on June 8, explores the 'special bond between father and son' as 'seen through a mother's eyes'

The Bench, released on June 8, explores the ‘special bond between father and son’ as ‘seen through a mother’s eyes’

Meghan donated copies of her book to the school and the students presented her with paper hearts of pink and white with drawings and messages as the Sussexes left the school.  

The couple also donated two garden boxes filled with vegetables and herbs to the school. Through their Archewell Foundation, in partnership with Proctor & Gamble, they also stocked the school’s pantry with personal health and hygiene supplies. 

They plan to donate a washer and dryer to the school as well so more children can have clean uniforms.

Meanwhile, the students also gifted Meghan with some of their drawings which they had penned onto pink paper hearts.

The duchess looked through the drawings after her reading session.  

An anti-vax and anti-mask heckler stood outside the school shouting through a bullhorn during the visit from the couple.  

The school, supported in part by the youth and family nonprofit Graham Windham, serves children in kindergarten through eighth grade. 

Harry was joined by two men and one woman for Thursday evening’s jaunt to the hotel bar, where he chatted over a glass of wine while a jazz pianist played in the background.

He had arrived for what appeared to be a business meeting just after 5.30pm, taking a table in a corner under close watch by his security detail, and leaving around 45 minutes later.  

It is not clear who his companions were but they were all dressed in business attire and Harry was carrying an iPad and notebook.

The evening topped off a busy day for Meghan and Harry as they jetted around the Big Apple to a number of mystery meetings, which have been kept under wraps from the public and the press. 

On Thursday morning, the Sussexes first visited the One World Trade Center observatory where they met with New York Governor Kathy Hochul, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and de Blasio’s family.

They arrived around 8.14am heading straight up the tower and emerging around 30 minutes later to pose for photos with the officials.  

While atop the One World Trade Center, Meghan said ‘it’s wonderful to be back’ in New York – following her last visit in September 2019 when she cheered on close friend and tennis star Serena Williams at the US Open.  

Meghan puts her arm around a child who appears to be emotional meeting the former working members of the royal family

Meghan puts her arm around a child who appears to be emotional meeting the former working members of the royal family 

The visit to the school marked the start of the second day of their three-day trip to the Big Apple in their first major public appearance since quitting the royal family

The visit to the school marked the start of the second day of their three-day trip to the Big Apple in their first major public appearance since quitting the royal family

The duchess opted for a head to toe red number, with loose-fitting trousers, stiletto court shoes and coat

The prince chose beige chinos and a long-sleeve navy polo shirt

The duchess opted for a head to toe red number, with loose-fitting trousers, stiletto court shoes and coat (left). The prince chose beige chinos and a long-sleeve navy polo shirt (right) 

Meghan kneels down to chat to a little girl on the playground of the school in Harlem, Manhattan, New York City Friday

Meghan kneels down to chat to a little girl on the playground of the school in Harlem, Manhattan, New York City Friday

The duchess speaks with students and staff at the school which serves shelters for families without permanent homes

The duchess speaks with students and staff at the school which serves shelters for families without permanent homes

The couple sported face masks throughout the visit where they spent around one hour speaking with students and staff

The couple sported face masks throughout the visit where they spent around one hour speaking with students and staff

Through their Archewell Foundation, in partnership with Proctor & Gamble, the couple stocked the school’s pantry with personal health and hygiene supplies

Through their Archewell Foundation, in partnership with Proctor & Gamble, the couple stocked the school’s pantry with personal health and hygiene supplies

Harry crouches down to speak with some young children in the playground of the school where 95% of kids are living in economic hardship

Harry crouches down to speak with some young children in the playground of the school where 95% of kids are living in economic hardship

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are seen leaving their luxury hotel in Manhattan with their beefed-up security Friday

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are seen leaving their luxury hotel in Manhattan with their beefed-up security Friday

Their fleet of gas-guzzling SUVs were spotted exiting the Carlyle Hotel on Manhattan's Upper East Side late Friday morning

Their fleet of gas-guzzling SUVs were spotted exiting the Carlyle Hotel on Manhattan’s Upper East Side late Friday morning

The Sussexes are seen driving away from the lavish Manhattan hotel for day two of their three-day tour around New York City

The Sussexes are seen driving away from the lavish Manhattan hotel for day two of their three-day tour around New York City

The Sussexes are seen driving away from the lavish Manhattan hotel for day two of their three-day tour around New York City

The Sussexes meet Chelsea Clinton at the WHO over vaccine equity 

Meghan and Harry wrapped up their first day in the Big Apple Thursday by hosting a meeting on vaccine equity with Chelsea Clinton and other health experts at the World Health Organization (WHO) offices in the United Nations (UN) building. 

The couple released a statement on the Instagram account for their non-profit Archewell saying they had partnered with the WHO to host a ‘dialogue on the urgent need to achieve global vaccine equity.’ 

‘In this room, we had a number of the foremost leaders on public health, pandemic preparedness, scientific progress, and community building,’ they said in a joint statement. 

‘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.’ 

Meghan and Harry wrapped up their first day in the Big Apple Thursday by hosting a meeting on vaccine equity with Chelsea Clinton and health officials at the WHO building

Meghan and Harry wrapped up their first day in the Big Apple Thursday by hosting a meeting on vaccine equity with Chelsea Clinton and health officials at the WHO building 

The meeting included: Chelsea Clinton, WHO assistant director-general Stewart Simonson, Director of Global Affairs at the Department of Health and Human Services Loyce Pace, WHO Foundation CEO Anil Soni, WHO director-general Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, former president of Liberia Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and the UN’s Under-Secretary General Winnie Byanyima. 

Clinton, the daughter of former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, is the vice-chair of the Clinton Foundation. 

The Sussexes had been spotted emerging from the WHO HQ at 885 Second Avenue late Thursday afternoon, carrying both WHO documents and documents featuring their Archewell Foundation branding.

The discussion on vaccine equity comes ahead of their appearance at Saturday’s Global Citizen concert, which is also focused on the same mission. 

The couple then parted ways with the officials and took a tour of the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, joined by National September 11 Memorial & Museum President Alice Greenwald and Patricia Harris, CEO of Bloomberg Philanthropy.  

The Sussexes visited both pools on the sites where the North Tower and South Tower once stood, reading the names of the victims inscribed on the memorials and taking a moment of silence by a wreath. 

They spent around 30 minutes inside the museum before being whisked back to their hotel for a quick pit stop and outfit change. 

Around midday, they traveled to 50 UN Plaza for a meeting with US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield on COVID-19, racial justice and mental health. 

The ambassador described the meeting as ‘wonderful’ as she shared snaps of the trio chatting on sofas in a lounge area and then posing in front of UN branding.    

‘Wonderful meeting with Prince Harry and Meghan, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex,’ she tweeted, with photos from their meeting. 

‘Important discussion of COVID, racial justice, and raising mental health awareness,’ she wrote on social media. 

Meghan and Harry then paid a visit to the World Health Organization (WHO) headquarters at 885 Second Avenue, where they emerged carrying both WHO documents and documents featuring their Archewell Foundation branding.

The couple revealed on the Instagram account for their non-profit Archewell that they had partnered with the WHO to host a ‘dialogue on the urgent need to achieve global vaccine equity.’

‘In this room, we had a number of the foremost leaders on public health, pandemic preparedness, scientific progress, and community building,’ they said in a joint statement. 

‘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.’  

The meeting brought together ‘world leaders, health officials, and experts’ including: Chelsea Clinton, WHO assistant director-general Stewart Simonson, Director of Global Affairs at the Department of Health and Human Services Loyce Pace, WHO Foundation CEO Anil Soni, WHO director-general Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, former president of Liberia Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and the UN’s Under-Secretary General Winnie Byanyima. 

Clinton, the daughter of former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, is  the vice-chair of her family’s foundation and is a global health advocate.  

Much of the details of the Sussexes’ trip to the Big Apple – including the purpose of the meetings with various officials – remain under wraps.

They are scheduled to appear at Saturday’s Global Citizen concert in Central Park which focuses on vaccine equity.    

Last night, Harry, 37, was then spotted in Bemelmans Bar in the Carlyle Hotel on Manhattan's Upper East Side chatting animatedly with the people at his table - with no sign of Meghan, 40, in sight (above)

Last night, Harry, 37, was then spotted in Bemelmans Bar in the Carlyle Hotel on Manhattan’s Upper East Side chatting animatedly with the people at his table – with no sign of Meghan, 40, in sight (above) 

There they met with NY Governor Kathy Hochul (furthest left) and NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio (next to Harry) as well as De Blasio's wife Chirlane McCray, and the couple's son Dante (furthest right)

There they met with NY Governor Kathy Hochul (furthest left) and NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio (next to Harry) as well as De Blasio’s wife Chirlane McCray, and the couple’s son Dante (furthest right)

They then traveled to 50 UN Plaza for a meeting with US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield on COVID-19, racial justice and mental health (above)

They then traveled to 50 UN Plaza for a meeting with US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield on COVID-19, racial justice and mental health (above)

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