Meghan’s visit to the Suva Municipal Market should have lasted around 20 minutes. She was due to learn about Markets for Change, a UN Women’s project which promotes female empowerment during her market visit.
Kensington Palace suggested the decision was taken due to “crowd management issues”.
A royal aide said the market visit was an extension of an earlier engagement where the duchess heard about the Markets for Change project at a morning tea.
The aide added: “She met everyone she was meant to meet and left.
“On advice she was taken out due to crowd management issues.”
Royal sources said there was a “security issue” because of the “much bigger crowds than anticipated” inside the market, making the event “uncomfortably busy”.
Meghan was flanked by security and her personal protection officer throughout the visit to the hot and humid indoor market.
The duchess, wearing a dress by Figue and carrying a woven bag made by women at the market, was greeted by crowds waving flags and cheering.
Shobna Verma, the legal advisor to Suva Market Vendors’ Association, presented Meghan with a bouquet of flowers.
Mrs Verma, 58, who sells eggs at the market, said: “The duchess asked me if the programme really is making a difference and I told her there have been a lot of positive changes, but we are still waiting for more.”
Asenaca Salusalu was the first vendor to meet the duchess inside the market.
Mrs Salusalu, 50, a farmer from the village of Nukulau, more than 100 kilometres from Suva, has been a stallholder at the market for nine years, selling root crops, vegetables and fruits.
Meghan, who looked slightly flustered during the hurried walk through the market, shook Mrs Salusalu’s hand, and said: “It’s very good to meet you”, before moving on.
Mrs Salusalu said: “She didn’t really speak at all, like she was a bit afraid. She just said ‘Bula’ and ‘Nice to meet you’. But I’m happy to have met her.”
Inside the market, stallholders and members of the public appeared calm and orderly and there did not appear to be any obvious security risk or problems with the crowds.
“It’s such a shame as we were all very excited to meet her,” said one stallholder, who had been positioned to expect a visit from the duchess.
“We started preparing for the visit three weeks ago and had been meant to meet her but she left without even saying hello.”
A royal source said: “It (the visit) was cut slightly short due to the large number of people within the market, which made the event uncomfortably busy. There were much bigger crowds than people had been anticipating and there were a lot of people cramped into the market.”
Earlier in the day, the duchess had made her first speech of the tour at the University of the South Pacific in which she spoke of the trouble she had funding her university degree.