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Meghan and Harry Reveal They Are Having a Girl

In February, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle announced that they were expecting their second child, on the anniversary of Princess Diana’s announcement that she was pregnant with her own second child — Harry. On Sunday, the couple revealed they were having a girl, due this summer.

Their first child, Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor, was born in May 2019. Late last year, Ms. Markle wrote in an Op-Ed for The Times that she had suffered a miscarriage. In the days after Archie’s birth, Ms. Markle was praised by many for her choice to not share the details of her birth on the stairs of the hospital where she gave birth, as has historically been expected of women who give birth in the royal family.

The couple’s first date was at Soho House in London in 2016 after a friend set them up on a blind date. They married in 2018 and remained in London until late 2019. The first months of their relationship included a network of friends who helped them keep it private until the global press found out they were together. Since then, their relationship has been complicated.

Throughout the course of their relationship the couple has dealt with scrutiny from the news media, particularly in Britain where they sued the tabloids who revealed letters shared between Ms. Markle and her father ahead of her wedding to Prince Harry.

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Meghan Recounts Conversations About Archie’s Skin Tone

Oprah seemed genuinely shocked by the revelation: Meghan offering a secondhand account of conversations Harry had had with his family on the subject of their then-unborn first child’s skin tone.

During the two-hour prime-time interview with Oprah that aired on Sunday on CBS, Meghan referred to them as “concerns and conversations about how dark his skin might be.”

Harry had been party to “several conversations” with “family” on the topic, said Meghan.

“About how dark your baby is going to be?” asked Oprah.

“Potentially,” said Meghan, “and what that would mean or look like.”

She declined to name anyone on the other side of the conversation: “I think that would be very damaging to them.”

royal wedding with all the trappings (plus some new ones, like a sermon from a Chicago-born Black bishop) was heralded by many as a sign the royal family was tip-toeing toward modernization.

Why, Oprah had asked Meghan, did the royal family express reluctance to eventually grant Archie, the grandson of the future sovereign, the title of “prince”?

“Do you think it’s because of his race?” Oprah asked.

Meghan’s answer left little doubt of her assessment.

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Meghan Says Life With the U.K. Royals Almost Drove Her to Suicide

A year after Meghan Markle married Prince Harry in a fairy-tale wedding, she said in an interview broadcast on Sunday night, her life as a member of the British royal family had become so emotionally unbearable that she contemplated suicide.

At another point, members of the family told Meghan, a biracial former American actress, and Harry that they did not want the couple’s unborn child to be a prince or princess and expressed concerns about how dark the color of the baby’s skin would be.

The disclosures, made in an eagerly anticipated interview on CBS with Oprah Winfrey, were the most incendiary by Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, 39, who married into the House of Windsor and discovered less of a fairy tale than what she described as the cruel loss of her freedom and identity.

“I was ashamed to have to admit it to Harry,” Meghan said of her suicidal thoughts. “I knew that if I didn’t say it, I would do it. I just didn’t want to be alive anymore.”

the wounds from that rupture have yet to heal.

On both sides of the Atlantic, it was the most eagerly anticipated royal interview since Harry’s mother, Princess Diana, told the BBC in 1995 that “there were three of us in this marriage,” referring to her husband, Prince Charles, and his extramarital relationship with Camilla Parker Bowles, whom he later married.

Martin Bashir, she said the palace viewed her as a “threat of some kind.”

A vivid bookend to her turbulent years in the royal family, Diana’s interview was a pop-cultural moment that drew one of the largest British television audiences in history, lived on in parodies on “Saturday Night Live,” and deepened the media’s fathomless hunger for all things Diana. Two years later, she was dead in Paris, the victim of a car crash after a high-speed chase with photographers.

a ravenous tabloid press fed a diet of falsehoods by jealous palace courtiers.

Even Meghan’s choice of wardrobe seemed calculated to telegraph the message of a new start. Her elegant black dress, designed by Giorgio Armani, featured a striking lotus flower design that her staff said symbolized revival and a will to live. She also wore a diamond tennis bracelet that once belonged to Diana.

But the couple’s effort to relaunch their public image did not go unchallenged back home. In the days leading up to the broadcast, new allegations surfaced that Meghan had bullied members of her staff, reducing junior aides to tears and driving two personal assistants out of the palace. Meghan dismissed the claims as character assassination, while Buckingham Palace said it would look into them.

“What is going on is a significant struggle for the control of the narrative,” said Peter Hunt, a former BBC royal correspondent. “What is our settled judgment for why Harry and Meghan left the royal family? Do we accept two hours of Oprah or do we believe those charges of bullying?”

Meghan has no shortage of defenders. Patrick J. Adams, an actor who worked with her on the television series, “Suits,” described her on Twitter last week as having “a deep sense of morality and a fierce work ethic.” The royal family, Mr. Adams said, was “obscene” to promote accusations of bullying against her.

Critics have long detected a whiff of racism in how some people react to Meghan, a biracial professional woman who had been divorced before she met Harry. While initially rapturous in their coverage of the couple, Britain’s tabloids turned against them, publishing unflattering articles about how they flew on carbon-spewing private jets and restricted access to their newborn son, Archie.

Some also point out the hypocrisy of Buckingham Palace investigating claims of bullying against Meghan when Prince Andrew, the queen’s second son and Harry’s uncle, has declined to speak to American authorities about allegations of sex trafficking by his late friend, the convicted sexual predator Jeffrey Epstein.

Though British papers have covered every conceivable angle of the interview, some made clear there were limits to the interest it was generating. The Sunday Times of London reported that the queen herself had no plans to watch the program, which is quite predictable, since it will air after midnight London time. It will be shown on Monday evening on Britain’s ITV network.

Others in Britain tried to play down its significance, pointing out that there are other more important things going on in the country: Schools are to reopen on Monday, and the coronavirus vaccine rollout continues at full speed. At least one prominent British leader said he had no plans to stay up for it.

“Of course, I’m interested in all sorts of stuff around the news around the world,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Sunday, when asked about Harry and Meghan. “I think it’s quite late our time, so I’ll probably miss it.”

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What Is the Meaning of Meghan’s Fashion Choice?

So you think the clothes are beside the point in the Oprah-Harry-Meghan tell-all? You think it’s the vocal bombshells and revelations that matter, and no one is going to give two figs what the former royal couple who is uttering them is wearing? You, my friend, should think again. Costumes are always part of the program.

Ever since she first stepped into the spotlight not just as an actress on a pretty successful TV show but as a potential British princess, Meghan Markle has proved herself a master of the visual message.

So whatever she chose for the single-biggest speaking moment of both her career and her marriage thus far — the one that, given the pre-promotion and the public relations warfare being waged by the palace, the Sussexes and the proxies for each, is going to be seen by more people than any other appearance since her wedding — it was not going to be a random, just-because-it’s-comfy schmatta.

It was going to be a dress with purpose. A dress that would set a tone. A dress that would, after all, be seen and re-seen as the photos from the interview went around the world and down in royal history, much as the photos of Princess Diana in her black jacket looking up from under her bangs at Martin Bashir in her 1995 BBC interview still appear whenever the topic of that royal divorce comes up.

$4,700 black silk wrap dress by Giorgio Armani with a white lotus flower print spilling down one shoulder.

According to Town & Country’s royal whisperer, Ms. Markle chose the dress specifically because of the lotus flower symbolism, and the fact the bloom represents rebirth, which was part of what the interview was also supposed represent: The rebirth of Harry and Meghan as an independent entity, authentically themselves apart from the royal family; the rebirth of their voices. Plus, of course, the coming birth of the couple’s next child. Oh — and also the fact that, wrote T & C, the lotus can “flourish despite seemingly challenging conditions.”

Hint, hint.

Though there is some irony in a very expensive dress being chosen to partly represent the wearer’s victimhood and resilience in the face of pain.

Still, worn belted over her pregnant stomach, with spiky black Aquazzura heels and a diamond Cartier tennis bracelet that was once owned by Princess Diana (chosen so that, the couple told Ms. Winfrey, she could be there with them), it was not exactly your run-of-the-mill maternity look.

Not exactly a “Royals! They’re just like us!” kind of thing. Not even a: “Hey, we’re now in America and we’re going to use all this attention to help an American designer,” kind of thing. Not even an eco-sensitive, or support-the-outsiders kind of thing. (All kinds of things that had been part of Ms. Markle’s public image-making before.)

first Baby Archie photo-op back in May of 2019, and it ticked all sorts of boxes. Accessible! American! Possibly shopping his closet, which is better for the planet. He may not have realized his clothes contained all that, but his wife probably did.

All in all, a good thing, really.

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She’s the first female tour guide in Afghanistan, but she’s determined not to be the last

(CNN) — For many people who work as tour guides, showing people around a new city involves a little bit of getting off the beaten track. But when there is no track at all, you just have to blaze one yourself.

That has been the story of Fatima, the only woman working as a tour guide in Afghanistan. The 22-year-old (who asked that CNN not use her surname for safety reasons) grew up leading sheep through the countryside, and now she leads tourists through the streets of Herat, the third-largest city in Afghanistan.

The making of a trailblazer

The youngest of eight children, Fatima is the only one of her siblings to be unmarried and to have gotten an education.

She grew up in rural Gohr Province, where she says there was no schooling available to girls, but she convinced her family to let her take lessons if she brought in enough of an income from sheep herding.

When Fatima was nine, her family settled in Herat. Though she was able to get some informal education, she mostly stayed at home helping her mother. Getting an education wasn’t as simple as just enrolling in the local comprehensive.

When Fatima couldn’t afford notebooks, she says she wrote with a stick in the sand. She practiced her English by listening to BBC radio, which she could pick up when high enough in the hills.

Unlike some kids, Fatima didn’t grow up dreaming of working in tourism — not only was it not traditional for women to work, she says she didn’t even know that giving tours was a job.

“I thought a lot during these years, how sitting at home would not solve any problem,” she says. “My brothers and sisters were forced to get married. It was so sad for me. I decided that I would not continue in their tradition. That was how I decided to work.”

First step: work on her English. Fatima signed up for Facebook and began joining groups for people interested in history. Tired of people who only knew Afghanistan as a place of war and conflict, she says she started writing regular posts about places in her country that foreigners might not know about.

Herat is in northwestern Afghanistan, not far from the borders with Iran and Turkmenistan and has been inhabited since the fifth century BCE, making it an interesting place for a history buff to grow up.

After she began writing her posts, everything changed.

Fatima says started getting comments and responses from her new online friends. In 2020, one of them — a man known as “Big Tom” — reached out to her saying he was going to be traveling in Afghanistan and would she be interested in showing him around in Herat?

She said yes. They went to the Herat Citadel, to the National Museum and to a traditional tea house.

Tom recommended her to someone else, and Fatima continued to get work by word of mouth. Eventually she came to the attention of Untamed Borders, a boutique travel agency that specializes in trips to more inaccessible areas.

After meeting Fatima and traveling through the city with her, Tom recommended that the company hire her. And they did hire her in late 2020, which is how the young self-taught woman became her country’s first female professional tour guide.

“Having a female guide gives our guests a whole new perspective,” says James Willcox, Untamed Borders’ founder. “As well as being well informed as a guide, Fatima gives our guests a personal insight into her life as an Afghan woman. We try to give our guests a framework of information to give context to the experiences they have in Afghanistan, and Fatima adds to that in a big way.”

"In the future I want to write about girls like my sisters," says Fatima.

“In the future I want to write about girls like my sisters,” says Fatima.

Courtesy Untamed Borders

Fatima’s new career caused some friction in her traditional family at a time when her siblings were already challenging their father’s more conservative views.

She asserted her independence, telling her father: “Right now, my brothers and sisters [say] that if we are not satisfied in life it is because of you. If I have a bad life now, it’s because of me.”

Though he has come around to Fatima’s work, she says her mother has always given her blessing. “My mother is happy. She is supporting me. Right now, she is my everything.”

The rocky road smoothens out

Of course, being a pioneer is never easy.

Fatima says many people in her life, including some of her own family members, have told her that it’s too dangerous for a woman to work, especially if it means interacting with men one-on-one.

She says children have thrown stones at her while she’s guiding tourists through the local market. People have shouted profanities at her.

Sadly, these are not isolated experiences. According to data from the United Nations, only about 19% of women in Afghanistan are employed outside of the home.

Fatima has used money from her work to enroll in university.

Fatima has used money from her work to enroll in university.

Courtesy Untamed Borders

The United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, more commonly known as UN Women, elucidates: “About 64%t of Afghans agree that women should be allowed to work outside the home, however, they still face a multitude of barriers, including restrictions, harassment, discrimination and violence, as well as practical hurdles such as a lack of job experience, employment skills and education.”

Fatima says that the support of her employers and the people she has met through giving tours are what keep her motivated. There’s also the implication of what could happen if she does quit: “Challenges are always a part of my life. If I give up, then other women will never start.”

To keep herself safe, she dresses modestly while on the job and never goes out with a group late at night.

Afghanistan’s tourism industry peaked in the relatively safe 1970s, with an average of 90,000 foreign tourists coming per year. Data is spotty and inconsistent, but in 2013 the country’s deputy minister of tourism told the New York Times that the number was closer to 15-20,000 per year.

Many countries, including the United States, have travel advisories in place and encourage their citizens not to visit Afghanistan.

However, choosing which countries to visit and how can make a significant difference on the ground. Tourism is an industry where not everyone is required to have a college degree, which can make the bar of entry lower and easier.

Fatima’s tour guide income helps to support her family, and it also means she can afford to go to college. After passing the entrance exams, Fatima says she’s been able to enroll at Herat University and is now studying journalism. On the side, she says she teaches English to 41 girls in a refugee school.

The education, she says, isn’t just for her. Fatima tutors her nieces and nephews in English and helps pay for some of their school fees and supplies. This is generational change in action — the sons and daughters of siblings who could not get an education are now going to government schools.

If travel, in its purest form, is about expanding our view of the world around us, this is certainly true for Fatima, even when she is the one showing people her homeland instead of visiting theirs.

She says she dreams of changing roles for a while and letting someone else guide her — her top choice for a travel destination, fitting for a lover of history and culture, is Tibet.

Most of Fatima’s dreams, though, are closer to home. She says she hopes to open a school to train tour guides. It would be open to both boys and girls, she says, but “ladies first,” as there are fewer job opportunities available to women.

“I am the first lady in Afghanistan to guide people,” she says, “but I do not want to be the last.”

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Scores Are Dead or Injured in Fire at Migrant Center in Yemen

CAIRO — A fire broke out Sunday in a detention center for migrants in Yemen’s capital, Sana, killing at least eight people and injuring more than 170 others, scores seriously, the United Nations migration agency said.

The cause of the fire was not immediately clear, according to the International Organization for Migration. More than 90 migrants were in serious condition, and the death toll could climb much higher, according to the Houthi rebels who run the center.

The Houthi, who have controlled the capital since Yemen’s conflict broke out more than six years ago, said that civil defense teams had extinguished the fire and that investigations were underway to determine its cause.

A U.N. official said the fire erupted in a hangar near the main building of the center, which was housing more than 700 migrants. Most had been arrested in the northern province of Sada while trying to cross into Saudi Arabia, she said. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because she was not authorized to brief the news media.

“This is just one of the many dangers that migrants have faced during the past six years of the crisis in Yemen,” said Carmela Godeau, the regional director of the International Organization for Migration.

The narrow waters between the Horn of Africa and Yemen have been a popular migration route despite Yemen’s continuing fighting. Tens of thousands of migrants, desperate to find jobs as housekeepers, servants and construction workers, try to make their way across Yemen every year to the oil-rich Persian Gulf states.

Some 138,000 migrants embarked on the arduous journey from the Horn of Africa to Yemen in 2019, but last year that number decreased drastically, to 37,000, because of the coronavirus pandemic. More than 2,500 migrants reached Yemen from Djibouti in January, according to the migration organization.

Those migrants are vulnerable to abuse by armed trafficking rings, many of them believed to be connected to the armed groups involved in the war. This month at least 20 migrants died after smugglers threw 80 overboard during a voyage from Djibouti in East Africa to Yemen, according to the migration agency.

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How to Watch the Harry, Meghan and Oprah Interview

When Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, present their side of a sensational royal rupture to Oprah Winfrey from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. Eastern on Sunday night, it is sure to be one of the most anticipated, and most heavily spun, television interviews in recent memory.

CBS and Oprah Winfrey’s company, Harpo Productions, have stoked expectations for the two-hour prime-time program airing on CBS and CBS.com, which will be broadcast in Britain on Monday night by the ITV network, with peekaboo excerpts that show her seated with Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, in a relaxed outdoor setting, but offer only glimpses of what they are talking about.

“Were you silent or were you silenced?” Ms. Winfrey asks at one point, as Meghan looks at her but says nothing. “You’ve said some pretty shocking things here,” she says at another, as dramatic music wells up.

Harry, who will join Meghan for the second half of the interview, appears briefly in an excerpt to say, “My biggest concern was history repeating itself.” That is an apparent reference to the fate of his mother, Princess Diana, who was killed in a car accident in Paris in 1997 after a high-speed pursuit involving photographers.

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Swiss Voters Narrowly Approve a Ban on Face Coverings

GENEVA — Switzerland on Sunday became the latest European country to ban the wearing of face coverings in public places, prohibiting the veils worn by Muslim women.

Official results of the nationwide referendum showed 51.2 percent of voters supported the ban on full facial coverings, which was proposed by the populist, anti-immigrant Swiss People’s Party (S.V.P.), compared with 48.8 percent opposing it, a much narrower margin of victory than pollsters had initially predicted.

The initiative, started long before the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, makes exceptions for facial coverings worn at religious sites and for security or health purposes, but also bans coverings like the ski masks worn by protesters. Officials have two years to write legislation to put the ban into effect.

The federal government had urged voters to reject the ban as tackling a problem that didn’t exist and arguing that it would damage tourism.

Critics of the ban cited a study showing only some 30 women in Switzerland wear the veils and most of them were born in Switzerland and had converted to Islam. The only people seen wearing the burqa, a full head-to-toe covering, are visitors from the Middle East, mostly wealthy tourists from the Persian Gulf bringing welcome revenue to the country’s hospitality industry.

France, Denmark, the Netherlands and Austria ban face coverings, and opinion polls at the start of the year showed the Swiss initiative garnering the backing of around 65 percent of voters, but the gap narrowed quickly as liberals and women’s groups pushed back against a ban they condemned as racist, Islamophobic and sexist.

The Swiss People’s Party has “always profited from campaigning against minorities, and feel they have to keep doing it,” said Elena Michel, a manager of a campaign against the ban for Operation Libero, an activist group supporting liberal causes. “In the end all our freedoms are at stake. If we open that door, it shows a tendency that it’s OK to take away the fundamental rights of minorities.”

Switzerland’s Central Council of Muslims called the result of the vote “a dark day” for Muslims and issued a statement saying, “Today’s decision opens old wounds, further expands the principle of legal inequality, and sends a clear signal of exclusion to the Muslim minority.”

The proposal put forward by the Swiss People’s Party, the country’s largest, did not mention Islam or niqabs and burqas — veils traditionally worn by Muslim women — calling instead for a ban on “full facial covering.” But the party left no doubt as to whom it was targeting.

Menacing campaign posters depicting a black-garbed woman scowling from behind her veil carried the slogan “Stop Extremism!”

The initiative evoked memories of a successful 2009 campaign by the S.V.P. to ban the construction of minarets, the towers from which mosques traditionally broadcast the call to prayers. Switzerland had three minarets at the time but the party challenged such architecture as alien to the Alpine nation’s culture and landscape, and hammered home the message with posters depicting minarets as missiles.

The S.V.P. framed its campaign leading up to Sunday’s vote as part of a “war of civilizations” in which it was defending Switzerland against “the Islamization of Europe and our country.”

To win support from other parts of the political spectrum, the party also framed the initiative as liberating women from religious oppression and said it would help the police deal with hooligans in street protests and at sporting events.

Some liberal-leaning Muslims supported the ban.

“What the full veil represents is unacceptable; it is the cancellation of women from public space,” Saïda Keller-Messahli, president of the Forum for a Progressive Islam, told Swiss media.

Social commentators say Switzerland’s 400,000 Muslims, who make up around 5.5 percent of the population, are better integrated than those in France or Germany.

Some who campaigned against the ban called the outcome better than expected.

“We lost the battle but not the war,” said Ines el-Shikh, a Muslim and co-founder of the Violet Scarves, a feminist group, who celebrated the sharp drop in support for the ban. “This is huge. It shows the power that feminism as an organized movement can bring to public debate.”

Others said they feared the outcome would merely stoke the politics of division and fuel anti-Muslim sentiment.

“Things are going in a bad direction and this is going to make them worse,” Sanija Ameti, a political activist and member of the Green Liberals Party, said. “That frightens me.”

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