A royal call. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle reached out to Althea Bernstein, an 18-year-old who was the victim of a racial hate crime in Madison, Wisconsin, on Wednesday, June 24. According to Bernstein’s spokesperson Michael Johnson, who’s also the Boys & Girls Clubs of Dane County, the teen spoke to the former Duke and Duchess of Sussex for 40 minutes on Saturday, June 27.
“On the phone with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle the Duchess of Sussex,” Johnson wrote on his Facebook on Saturday. “Prince Harry shared that young people voices matter and that Madison have our thoughts, prayers and wishes. 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. I enjoyed the call.”
Johnson also told Channel 3000 that the Suits alum asked for Bernstein’s phone number to keep in touch while she heals. “Her and Meghan talked about the importance of self care and allowing herself to heal,” Johnson said. “And she applauded her for the way that she responded and pretty much said ‘Hey Michael, give me her cellphone 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 also told the news outlet that the teen was moved to tears from the royals’ call and that Meghan also gave Bernstein the advice to not use social media. Johnson also noted that Meghan and Bernstein both bonded over their biracial background.
“She’s struggling. It’s a challenge for her, it’s very, very emotional. I talked to her three or four times today, and I’ll tell you Meghan lifted her spirits,” he said.
As for Harry, the prince let his wife do most of the talking. Johnson noted that the former Duke of Sussex joined the call for 10 minutes. The spokesperson also noted that Meghan “almost sounded like a seasoned high school counselor.”
“As I heard her, I thought ‘She has to talk to more kids,’ and I’m thankful she agreed to do it,” he said.
Bernstein was the victim of a hate crime on Wednesday, June 24, when four white men pulled up to her car at a red light in downtown Madison and yelled a racist slur at her with her window down, according to the police report. One of the men then sprayed a liquid believed to be lighter fluid at her face before throwing a flaming lighter into her car. The teen was able to extinguish the fire and was later treated for burns at a hospital.
“The City received a report of a violent racially-motivated hate crime that occurred downtown around 1:00 am on June 24, where a group of pedestrians used a racial slur and then lit a woman on fire through her car window as she stopped at an intersection. This is a horrifying and absolutely unacceptable crime that I will not tolerate in Madison,” Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway said in a statement at the time.