How Meghan Markle supported a young fan’s mental health struggles

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Elena Chabo
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During the royal tour, the Duchess of Sussex spotted a young woman she’d once given advice to via Instagram.

When 20-year-old Hannah Sergel flew across New Zealand and waited at Auckland’s Viaduct Harbour in the hope of meeting Meghan Markle in person, she couldn’t have known the resulting encounter would be so special that her Prime Minister would be struck by it.

But on Tuesday (30 October), the Duchess of Sussex spotted Sergel amid a crowd of thousands at the harbour and rushed over to embrace her. 

More than just a fan-girl moment, this was a very special meeting for both women. In 2016, back when Meghan was the star of Suits and still had an Instagram account, the pair shared messages on the platform. The Duchess supported Sergel through difficult times, even sending a video clip to the delighted student.

Sergel, who has spoken about her mental health challenges on Instagram, told New Zealand’s 1 News that Meghan had been there for her when she was struggling.

“I was friends with her on Instagram before she had to deactivate her account. We used to have conversations and stuff on there. She would tell me to do well at university and encourage me to be myself.”

Before the royal couple’s appearance in Auckland, Sergel travelled from her home in Christchurch and waited for hours holding a sign reading: “It’s Hannah from Instagram.” And Meghan’s response to seeing her is so sincere we’re pretty sure it could melt the heart of the staunchest republican.

“She said, ‘Thank you for getting in touch,’ and then she gave me a hug and said she would read my letter that I gave her,” Sergel said.

We have no doubt that she will – especially after Prince Harry prevented Sergel’s letter from being swept away by security:

Sergel live-tweeted her encounter with the Duchess of Sussex, and later shared this comment from one of her well-wishers: “I hope that incredible memory nourishes and sustains you in future dark days. Thanks for advocating for real conversations and support for those who have not found their voice yet.”

Understandably overwhelmed by the encounter, Sergel was consoled by none other than New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Arden, who accompanied the royals on their walkabout. 

The student later claimed on Twitter that the PM had sent her a photo of Meghan spotting her in the crowd.

If this is a modern-day fable about a benevolent princess greeting a young woman she once helped, there are two lessons we can take from it. 

The first is that our support can make a difference to a person who is struggling. And the second is that it’s always OK to reach out – because there are people out there who will care.

Main image: Getty