Meghan Markle Speaks with Young Victim
Meghan Markle made a personal phone call to Althea Bernstein, an 18-year-old biracial woman from Madison, Wisconsin, who claims she was set on fire while driving by four white men in an alleged hate crime.
Michael Johnson, the President and CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of Dane County and Bernstein’s acting spokesperson, confirmed in an interview with local news station WISC-TV – Channel 3000 that the Duchess of Sussex spoke with the victim for approximately 40 minutes on Saturday, June 27, with her husband, Prince Harry, hopping on the call for about 10 minutes.
“[Althea] and Meghan talked about the importance of self-care and allowing herself to heal,” Johnson told the outlet. “She applauded her for the way that she responded and pretty much said, ‘Hey, Michael, give me her cell phone number. I want to stay in touch, and let me know when you want me to come back and talk to people in Wisconsin.'”
Johnson said that Bernstein is still “struggling,” and that the situation has been “a challenge for her.” He added that, during the call, Markle encouraged Bernstein to stay off social media and avoid reading negative comments.
“It’s very, very emotional,” Johnson shared. “I talked to her three or four times today, and I’ll tell you, Meghan lifted her spirits.”
At the time, Johnson also shared via Facebook that he, too, spoke with Meghan and Harry over the phone. “Prince Harry shared that young people’s voices matter and that Madison have our thoughts, prayers and wishes,” he wrote. “Meghan has agreed to talk with girls in Wisconsin and we will be scheduling that soon.”
“Thank you Meghan for reaching out and checking on our kids in Madison Wisconsin today,” he added. “I enjoyed the call.”
In a recent interview with ABC News that aired on Good Morning America, Bernstein said she drove home after the alleged attack on June 24, called her mom and then drove herself to the emergency room.
“It is definitely a learning opportunity. I am very hopeful that these men see all the responses and they know that they hurt me and that this is something that will affect me for a while,” she said. “I really hope they choose to improve themselves.”
On November 8, 2016, Kensington Palace confirmed that Harry was “a few months” into a relationship with American actress Meghan Markle, in a statement from the prince asking for the “abuse and harassment” of Markle and her family to end. In September 2017, they made their first public appearance at an official royal engagement, the opening ceremonies of the Invictus Games in Toronto.
On November 27, 2017, Clarence House and Kensington Palace announced that Harry and Markle were engaged. The engagement announcement prompted much comment about the possible social significance of Meghan Markle becoming a mixed-race royal. The couple married at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, on May 19, 2018.
The Duke and Duchess initially lived at Nottingham Cottage in London, on the grounds of Kensington Palace. The couple later moved to the more than two-centuries-old Frogmore Cottage in the Home Park of Windsor Castle. The Crown Estate refurbished the cottage at a cost of £2.4 million, paid out of the Sovereign Grant, with the couple picking up expenses beyond restoration and ordinary maintenance. Their office was moved to Buckingham Palace.