Chris Jackson/Getty; Gregg DeGuire/WireImage
"When I was about 18 years old, I had the wonderful experience of auditioning for The Prince's Trust,” the 48-year-old star of The Avengers said in an Instagram post celebrating the success of the royal's key charity, which recently achieved the milestone of helping a million vulnerable young people across the UK.
"I was awarded £1,500 by The Prince's Trust that gave me my start and my career,” continued Elba, who used the Trust's funding to break free of the gang crime plaguing his neighborhood in Hackney, North London, and attend the U.K.'s prestigious National Youth Music Theatre.
The actor has since become a Goodwill Ambassador for the Trust, recording a short film about his experiences in 2010 with London drug dealer turned youth worker Dante Lauder-Hawkins.
Prince Charles meets Idris Elba and his wife, Sabrina, in 2019
The video released Monday also features the words of British musicians Naughty Boy and Guy Garvey, as well as Selma star David Oyelowo, who trod a remarkably similar path to Elba onto the stage.
"I was about 17 and really wanted to be part of the National Youth Music Theatre, but myself and my parents couldn't afford it,” said the Golden Globe nominee, 44. “I got the grant and I got to be part of the National Youth Music Theatre, and it's really where my desire to become an actor became cemented. And it's also where I met my future wife, Jessica, so I have the Prince's Trust to thank for a lot.”
Shutterstock Prince Charles with David Oyelowo
Speaking about the million-person milestone of the Trust on Saturday, Prince Charles explained how he was inspired to start the charity with his Royal Navy pension because of the "destructive hopelessness" caused by mass unemployment in the mid-1970s.
"It seemed to me that we should do something to try to make a difference, however small," Charles, 71, told The Telegraph about his desire to provide a helping hand to those most in need.
"I have always felt that it is the young people who have lived through the toughest experiences who have most to offer back to society," he added. "They step up to become young leaders — and my Trust does its best to support those who have achieved their own success to go out to help others."
BEN BIRCHALL/getty Prince Charles
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The royal heir, who recently warned the climate crisis "will dwarf the impact of the coronavirus," also drew a parallel between the 1970s and the coronavirus-impacted world of 2020.
"Over all these years since the Trust was launched, there has never been an easy time," Charles told the Daily Telegraph about the pandemic, for which the royal — as well as Elba and his wife, Sabrina — tested positive for earlier this year.
"However, there has never been a time as uniquely challenging as the present, when the pandemic has left perhaps another million young people needing urgent help to protect their futures," he added. "The task ahead is unquestionably vast, but it is not insurmountable."