Meghan Markle Surprises British Schoolchildren to Commemorate International Women's Day

Meghan Markle paid a visit to schoolchildren in east London in commemoration of International Women's Day, drawing expressions of surprise and excitement from many of the students.

Markle, a former American actress who is now the Duchess of Sussex after marrying British Prince Harry, used one of her final official appearances as a member of the royal family to meet with students at the Robert Clack Upper School in Dagenham on Friday. The duchess and her husband are set to formally step back from their royal duties at the end of March.

"Oh my god, that's Meghan. I'm actually gonna meet Meghan," a student at the school told the BBC, describing her reaction to the surprise visit.

In a clip, another surprised student expressed disbelief at meeting the duchess.

"You're Meghan Markle, married to Prince Harry?" she asks with visible shock.

Markle laughed while smiling broadly in response.

The official Instagram account for Markle and the prince shared a clip of her surprising the students in a Sunday post.

"Happy International Women's Day! Here, a glimpse of The Duchess' visit to the Robert Clack School to hear from the students on what IWD means to them, and how we can all uplift one another," the caption with the video read. "Tag an inspiring woman in your life and tell us what #IWD2020 means to you."

In the video, students cheer and clap as Markle walks by. The duchess also receives a bouquet of flowers from a young student. The official Instagram account, also shared two black and white images of Markle greeting exuberant students.

According to Yahoo Style UK, the royal palace confirmed that Markle chose the school due to its location. It is situated in the area of the Ford plant, where in 1968 women workers went on strike as they demanded equal pay to that of male employees. Geraldine Dear, one of those women strikers, joined Markle for the assembly at the school.

Meghan Markle
Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex visits the the Robert Clack Upper School in Dagenham to attend a special assembly ahead of International Women’s Day (IWD), on March 6 in London, England Ben Stansall-WPA Pool/Getty

"When we thought about what I wanted to do for International Women's Day this year, for me it was incredibly important to be with the women of our future," Markle told the students.

"And that is all of the young women here, as well as the young men who play a very large part in this. Specifically coming to your school made a lot of sense for me because of this social justice and the impact that it's rooted in," she said.

Markle and Prince Harry announced in early January that they would step back from their royal duties. They plan to move to Canada where they will work and fund their own lives away from the scrutiny and spotlight of the British press.