Duchess Meghan Appears To Ignore Concerns About Zika And Visits Rainforest In Tonga

Duchess Of Sussex Meghan Markle in Tonga
Chris Jackson / Getty Images

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry are on a whirlwind royal tour of the South Pacific and despite concerns about the Zika virus, the Duchess of Sussex decided to keep her engagement at a rainforest in Tonga.

As People Magazine reports, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex visited Tupou College, the oldest college in the Pacific, which was established by a British missionary in the 1860s. While there, the royal newlyweds dedicated two rainforests to The Queen’s Canopy, a forest conservation project that encompasses 53 Commonwealth nations. The school is located in one of those forests.

As People notes, Meghan’s appearance at this engagement raised eyebrows because she is pregnant and Zika, a virus spread by mosquitoes, can cause birth defects, most notably microcephaly, a condition that affects the development of the baby’s brain. Prince Harry visited a rainforest in Fiji and it was thought that she didn’t attend because of fears about the virus.

But the duchess appeared unconcerned about the risk as she carried out her royal duties wearing a blue shirt dress by Veronica Beard and a necklace by Pippa Small Jewelery.

Despite her appearance at the rainforest site, it appears that she has been taking precautions to prevent mosquito bites. As People as notes, Meghan was spotted with very shiny arms at an evening reception in Tonga and there’s an assumption that she was wearing insect repellent. She has also worn quite a few longsleeved dresses for her engagements in Fiji and Tonga.

Furthermore Harry ventured further into the rainforest without his wife by his side. It looks like Meghan stayed at the school while he did so.

Concerns about Zika aside, both Meghan and Harry seem to have enjoyed immersing themselves in Pacific island culture. Harry drank kava on his first night in Fiji. Kava is their national drink and is said to have mild narcotic properties. Both the duke and duchess wore floral garlands during their visit to South Pacific University and kept them on as they each delivered their remarks.

In Tonga, they dialed up their island fashion a couple notches when they wore flower garlands and handcrafted skirts made by locals to a cultural presentation.

Meghan and Harry are expected to fly back to Sydney after they wrap up their appearances in Tonga. Their stay will be brief as they’re primarily heading to Australia for the closing ceremony of the Invictus Games, a tournament the prince started for wounded war veterans. After Sydney, they will enjoy the final days of their first major royal tour of Commonwealth nations in New Zealand.

Meghan Markle is expected to give birth in the spring of 2019.