Contestant Archie Williams’ story of a wrongful conviction and subsequent 36-year incarceration has touched the judges and viewers at home, including the Duchess of Sussex, 39, and Prince Harry.
“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,” she said with a laugh.
Markle and Prince Harry’s 1-year-old son is also named Archie.
“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,” the former “Suits” star said.
Williams, 59, opened up about his case during his “AGT” audition. At age 22, he was arrested for aggravated rape and attempted murder, neither of which he committed. After serving 12 years behind bars, he reached out to the Innocence Project for help. It wasn’t until after nearly four decades in prison that his case was overturned due to fingerprints that were eventually connected to the scene of the crime. In March 2019, he was released.
“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.
Williams continued: “Days turned into weeks, into months, into years and into decades. It’s like a nightmare.”
“AGT” host Terry Crews questioned Williams on how he got through his days in prison, to which 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.”
He brought the judges to tears when singing Elton John’s “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me” for his audition.
During the finale, which Markle made clear she tuned in for, Williams sang The Beatles’ “Blackbird.”
Williams, unfortunately, did not make the top five. Spoken word performer Brandon Leake won the show.
Prince Harry and Meghan the Duke and Duchess of Sussex arrive to attend the annual Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey in London (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
The Duchess’ surprise appearance on the NBC show comes just one night after she and Prince Harry, 36, made their primetime TV debut together in celebration of making Time magazine’s annual list of 100 of the world’s most influential people.
The couple stressed the importance of voting in the 2020 presidential election and being kind on and offline.