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Catherine who?’ say selfie-hunters when they’re asked about the Princess of Wales while trying to get a glimpse of Meghan Markle in Nigeria

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Catherine who?' say selfie-hunters when they're asked about the Princess of Wales while trying to get a glimpse of Meghan Markle in Nigeria

 

On a humid open-air basketball court on the fringes of Nigeria’s capital, a local cameraman is beseeching the Duchess of Sussex to look down his lens. ‘Royalty!’ he shouts. ‘Come on, Royalty! Look this way!’

 

 

Crowded by well-wishers, Meghan winces at the pesky photographer’s protocol-busting impudence.

Notwithstanding that the Sussexes’ non-royal visit to Africa’s most populous nation is, in fact, really rather regal, had nobody told him that the couple cut ties with the House of Windsor ages ago?

The 42-year-old ignores his entreaties and instead chats to a little girl in a princess dress who is presenting her with a bunch of red roses. ‘Royalty!’ the snapper cries again. By now he is little more than an arm’s length from the duchess.

This time the girl looks up and all becomes clear. For it was to her, not Meghan, he was appealing. She is Royalty Ojeh, the six-year-old daughter of the chief executive of a Nigerian charity working in collaboration with Harry’s Invictus Games Foundation. This was a day when not everything about the Harry and Meghan roadshow was quite as it seemed. Take the welcome they received when they arrived here, an Army sports complex in Abuja, for a volleyball match.

Nobody squealed with excitement louder than a group of banner-waving women in identical black-and-yellow dresses.

Surveying the scene, one of Harry and Meghan’s US aides hailed the ‘great reception’, adding the couple were having an ‘awesome time’.

But who exactly were the noisy women? After all, the public weren’t invited to this event. Like so much of the visit it was supposed to be ‘private’ – just military bigwigs, dignitaries and their families.

It transpired that the selfie-hunting women were by no means typical of the general public but formed the Abuja branch of the Sussex Squad – a group of superfans who have been known to launch online attacks on those who criticise the California-based couple.

To these women, Meghan is someone upon whom they can fasten their hopes, a belief bolstered by her declaration that she is ’43 per cent Nigerian’. One of them, civil servant Lizi Ben-Iheanacho, 59, says: ‘She is one of us and that makes us feel so inspired.’

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