Meghan Markle made a rare TV appearance on Wednesday's America's Got Talent season finale to send a message of encouragement to contestant Archie Williams. The Duchess of Sussex made her surprise visit via video during the NBC show's season end, revealing she and husband Prince Harry had been moved by the story of the man who shares the name of their 15-month-old son.
"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," the former actress said. "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."
Assuring Williams she and Harry were "in [his] corner," the Suits alum said she was sending him hopes for a bright future after he revealed in his May audition on AGT that he spent 37 years in prison for crimes he didn’t commit. Williams, who was released in March 2019 after being wrongly convicted of aggravated rape and attempted murder, said on the show, "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. Days turned into weeks, into months, into years and into decades. It’s like a nightmare."
While Williams' singing voice wowed judges Sofia Vergara, Heidi Klum, Simon Cowell and Howie Mandel throughout the competition, he ultimately lost to Brandon Leake, a spoken-word poet. In an interview with PEOPLE after the finale, Leake said he hopes his victory can inspire other poets to pursue their art, revealing he had already had young poets reach out to him to say their parents already understood their passion more after seeing his Golden Buzzer moment.
"More than just opening a door to come on AGT and be able to compete for a championship, this right here is genuinely a moment in which spoken word got a chance to be on the forefront of the American conscious," he told the magazine. "And we won. To know that an art form that was so underground for so long got the public eye and took a win, that's more than any million-dollar prize could ever be."