I don't know why I always feel the need to defend Meghan Markle. Perhaps it's because certain tabloids seem to love to target her and criticize her at every turn. Or perhaps it's because I believe she's a person who wants to make a difference in the world and deserves to be celebrated. Not just since she became a member of the royal family, but as someone who has tried to be a good person her entire life. For instance, Markle has had a young pen pal for years before she married Prince Harry, and she has kept it up throughout her whirlwind romance. This, to me, is a beautiful thing.
Markle has been writing letters back and forth with 14-year-old Aleyna Genc of Nottingham, England since the girl was 12 years old, according to The Telegraph. Young Aleyna first wrote the former actress a letter after she saw the speech she had given to the United Nations in Beijing, China in 2015. In that speech, according to CNBC, Markle explained how she became an advocate for women's rights at the age of 11 after she wrote to a dish soap company about a television commercial she saw as sexist. It was an empowering speech, and Aleyna found herself so inspired by Markle's activism she decided to write to her, as she told reporters at a royal event in Nottingham on Thursday.
"I just sent her a letter because she made a speech and that was the one that really inspired me: her UN women’s speech," Aleyna said, according to People. "I just wrote to her to say how much it inspired me, and we have been lettering ever since."
While Aleyna did not get to meet Markle in person on Thursday, she did get to enjoy a special moment with her via her husband, Prince Harry.
The Duke of Sussex was on hand at Nottingham Academy to mark World Mental Health Day and to spend time with children during a "nurture" session, according to The Nottingham Post. And he reportedly made an effort to meet with his wife's pen pal. They actually even exchanged gifts! Aleyna presented Prince Harry with a stuffed dog for his 5-month-old son Archie, and Prince Harry in turn took her aside to give her something amazing: a voice message from Markle meant for her ears alone.
"I have been sending Meghan letters for around two years now and she sent me a voice note which I got to listen to on Harry's phone," the young girl told reporters, according to The Mirror. "She basically wished me well."
It was apparently a pretty big moment for Aleyna, and even came with an extra fringe benefit. As she told The Nottingham Post: "It was amazing. It is a once-in-a-life time opportunity and I have already got to do it. He hugged me at the end too. He is so different to what I expected."
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are a couple who seem to have bonded over their shared interest in wanting to do the right thing in the world. Whether that's working to end the stigma around mental health, fighting for women's rights, or simply exchanging letters with a little girl who might be able to use a boost right about now. They're good humans. And I won't hear any different.