Meghan Markle is speaking out for the first time since protests have swept the nation and the world in the wake of George Floyd's death on May 25. People across the country have publicly protested police brutality after Floyd died at the age of 46 when a police officer pressed his knee into his neck for more than eight minutes.
In a new message to the graduating class of Immaculate Heart High School, her alma mater, the 38-year-old Duchess of Sussex addressed the incidents of the last week in her hometown of Los Angeles, calling them "absolutely devastating."
"I wasn't sure what I could say to you. I wanted to say the right thing. And I was really nervous that I wouldn’t, or that it would get picked apart, and I realized the only wrong thing to say is to say nothing," Markle began her address. "Because George Floyd's life mattered. And Breonna Taylor's life mattered. And Philando Castile's life mattered. And Tamir Rice's life mattered. And so did so many other people whose names we know and whose names we don't know."
"The first thing I want to say to you is that I’m sorry. I’m so sorry you have to grow up in a world where this is still present, she continued.
“I wanted to say the right thing. I realised the only wrong thing to say is to say nothing. George Floyds life mattered & Breonna Taylors life mattered & Philando Castiles life mattered & Tamir Rices life mattered & so did so many other people” — Meghan Markle #BlackLivesMatterpic.twitter.com/KeIxkkooCc
Markle reflected on a message a teacher from the high school had given her as a sophomore, which was, "Always remember to put others' needs above your own fears."
"That has stuck with me through my entire life, and I have thought about it more in the last week than ever before," she said.
The wife of Prince Harry also reflected on the 1992 Los Angeles riots, which she experienced at the age of 10.
"I remember the curfew, and I remember rushing back home and on that drive home seeing ash fall from the sky and smelling the smoke and seeing the smoke billow out of buildings and seeing people run out of buildings carrying bags and looting," Markle recalled. "And I remember seeing men in the back of a van holding guns and rifles. And I remember pulling up to the house and seeing the tree that had always been there completely charred. And those memories don't go away. I can't imagine that at 17 or 18 years old, which is how old you are now, that you would have to have a different version of that same type of experience."
She concluded her message by urging her fellow alumni to be examples in their community and the world.
"You are going to lead with love, you are going to lead with compassion, you are going to use your voice," she said. "You're going to use your voice in a stronger way than you've ever been able to because most of you are 18 or you're going to turn 18, so you're going to vote."
The duchess, who is mixed race and who has proudly spoken about being a woman of color, concluded, "You are going to have empathy for those who don’t see the world through the same lens that you do — because with as diverse, vibrant and opened-minded as I know the teachings at Immaculate Heart are, I know you know that black lives matter... You are equipped, you are ready, we need you, and you’re prepared."
The former Suits star spoke to the graduates at 8 p.m. local time during a virtual graduation ceremony of the all-girls Catholic school in Los Feliz, California.
Markle recently relocated to Los Angeles with her husband, Prince Harry, and their 1-year-old son, Archie. The duke and duchess stepped down from their roles as senior royals on March 31 and have been quarantined in L.A. due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Before her message was released, Markle was inspiring young members of the group Students for Floyd. Watch ET's interview with the 17-year-old founder of the initiative below: