The garden at Commonwealth headquarters was transformed into an innovation hub on 5 July as youth from across the globe shared their ideas for a better, brighter future with Prince Harry.
It was the Prince’s first engagement as Commonwealth Youth Ambassador since he was appointed to the role by the Queen earlier this year.
Set against the backdrop of 53 Commonwealth flags, young people from Africa, Asia, the Pacific, the Caribbean, the Americas and Europe, elevator-pitched their innovations to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.
Their ideas included:
A tap water revolution to replace plastic water bottles and help rid our ocean of plastic;
a youth education initiative to address mental health,
a programme to use the voices of young people to change attitudes towards LGBT, and many more.
The Duke and Duchess’ visit was the highlight of a youth leadership training workshop in London this week. Speaking to the gathering of more than one hundred young people and Commonwealth officials, he said, “If there is one group of young people who can rise to the challenge of solving the world’s greatest problems — I know we’ve come to the right place!” He called on youth to be champions for their communities, families, countries, and for their Commonwealth.
He added, “My job as your Ambassador is to listen and learn from you, to amplify your voices and to bring your ideas to the attention of decision makers. It only seems right that as the youth of today, you should play a part in shaping the policies which will make the future better for everyone.”
Young people at the event described the experience as inspirational. Rizwan Javed, a Commonwealth Scholar from India, said the Duke was “dynamic”. He added, “We have a lot to look forward to and we are quite optimistic. He belongs to the same generation, so we can relate to him better.”
Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland said it was a “special delight” to host the Duke and Duchess. Stressing the importance of Prince Harry’s new role, she said, “For more than 45 years our Commonwealth Youth Programme has been pioneering the empowerment of young people and the development of youth leadership. The multiple layers and interlocking threads of Commonwealth connectivity continue to be woven into the fabric of our nations, creating a stronger and more resilient Commonwealth.
“Fresh and inspiring representation by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, together with the leadership of the Commonwealth Youth Council, and many other dynamic links among the youth of our member nations promise a new golden age of Commonwealth cooperation.”
Cameroonian Achaleke Christian Leke, of the Commonwealth Youth Peace Ambassadors Network, said, “The most inspiring thing is that the Prince affirmed his commitment to working with young people on peace and countering violence. He also told us that our work should be about building hope for young people and providing alternatives to countering violence. That is my greatest take away from meeting him today.”
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex will meet more young people from the Commonwealth on a tour of Australia, New Zealand, Tonga and Fiji later this year.