Meghan Markle is showing her support for a special America’s Got Talent contestant.
The Duchess of Sussex made a surprise appearance on Wednesday’s AGT finale when she filmed a good luck message for one of the show’s finalists: Archie Williams.
“Just wanted to let you know that we’ve been so moved by your story and we’ve been cheering you on every week and it’s not just because we’re partial to the name. So, a very special message to you that I’ll probably be saying all of my life, but on this night it’s specifically for you: Archie, we are proud of you and are rooting for you, we can’t wait to see what you do. We’re in your corner, have a good night,” she said.
Meghan and Prince Harry have been “watching the series and loved him from the moment they first saw him,” a source tells PEOPLE.
Williams, who shares a name with the couple’s 1-year-old son, Archie, has become a standout contestant this season for not only his vocal talents but his powerful life story as well.
The 59-year-old was wrongly convicted of aggravated rape and attempted murder in Louisiana at age 22. At the 12-year mark of his prison sentence, he reached out to the Innocence Project with a request for the organization to exonerate him. Years later, his case was overturned due to the fingerprints found at the scene of the crime matching a serial rapist, and he was released from prison in March 2019 after being incarcerated for more than 36 years.
“I knew I was innocent, I didn’t commit a crime. But being a poor Black kid, I didn’t have the economic ability to fight the state of Louisiana,” he said during his audition.
“Days turned into weeks, into months, into years and into decades. It’s like a nightmare,” he continued.
When asked by host Terry Crews how he persevered, he said, “Freedom is of the mind. I went to prison, but I never let my mind go to prison. When you’re faced with dark times, what I would do was pray and sing. This is how I got peace.”
During his audition, Williams sang an emotional rendition of Elton John’s “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me” that brought the judges to tears.
“Archie, I will never, ever listen to that song in the same way ever again,” judge Simon Cowell told him. “It took on a whole new meaning for me. You’re a very courageous person. This is an audition I will never forget for the whole of my life, Archie.”
During the quarterfinals, Williams performed a moving cover of Steve Wonder’s “Love’s in Need of Love Today,” receiving praise from guest judge Kelly Clarkson. In the semifinals, during which he was saved by the judges, he sang Westlife’s “Flying Without Wings.” And on Tuesday’s finals, Williams sang The Beatles classic “Blackbird,” which judge Sofia Vergara called his best performance. “I hear this song differently than I ever did before … like The Beatles wrote this song for you,” judge Heidi Klum said.
Meghan’s appearance on AGT comes just one day after she and Harry made their primetime TV debut to celebrate TIME magazine’s annual list of the world’s most influential people. They used their segment to speak about the importance of voting.
We’re six weeks out from the election, and today is Voter Registration Day,” Meghan said on Tuesday’s ABC special. “Every four years, we’re told, ‘This is the most important election of our lifetime.’ But this one is. When we vote, our values are put into action, and our voices are heard.”
In her remarks, Meghan also encouraged the public to “honor those who gave us courage this year. Like the scientists, researchers and medical professionals who are leading the fight against COVID-19. Or the countless voices who are speaking out with passion and purpose against injustice and inequality and to those silently marching in solidarity, in peaceful protest to stand for what is just and what is right.”