Prince Harry praises the Queen's Commonwealth – weeks after saying it had to 'acknowledge its past'

Rebecca Taylor
·Royal Correspondent
·4 mins read

Prince Harry has praised his grandmother’s work through the Commonwealth, weeks after facing criticism when he said the organisation needed to acknowledge its past.

Harry and Meghan joined a conversation with people involved with the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust (QCT) to discuss using digital for good, about a month after speaking to other members of the trust about justice and equal rights.

The Duke of Sussex, who remains president of the QCT despite stepping back from senior royal life, said the Queen had achieved what she set out to do when taking over the commonwealth.

Harry said: “I think everything my grandmother wanted to achieve when she took this huge responsibility on, she’s managed…

“No one could have predicted how the world was going to change in such a short space of time, especially with the digital space, but hearing you guys, and knowing the broad spectrum that QCT engulfs, you’re the definition of the 21st century Commonwealth, and what it means to be part of it.

“You are there, standing for equality, for mutual respect, and for fairness.”

Meghan and Harry with Queen Elizabeth II at the Queen's Young Leaders Awards Ceremony at Buckingham Palace in 2018. (Getty Images)
Meghan and Harry with Queen Elizabeth II at the Queen's Young Leaders Awards Ceremony at Buckingham Palace in 2018. (Getty Images)

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Harry, 35, was widely criticised in July when he talked about needing to acknowledge the history of the Commonwealth before being able to move forward.

In a conversation earlier this week, he and Meghan, who is vice president of the QCT, spoke to the organisation’s chief executive, Nicola Brentnall, and Vee Kativhu, a study and empowerment YouTuber. Also on the call were Hunter Johnson, founder of The Man Cave and Rosie Thomas, co-founder of Project Rockit both from Australia and Brighton Kaoma, founder of Agents of Change Foundation in Zambia.

Meghan, 39, also referenced joining the Royal Family, saying that it wasn’t until that happened that she had met people linked with the Commonwealth, despite living in Canada for several years.

She said she was proud to work with the Commonwealth Trust, and said to Harry it was a “continuation of the legacy of your grandmother”.

Harry and Meghan after a roundtable discussion on gender equality with The Queens Commonwealth Trust (QCT) and One Young World at Windsor Castle in Windsor in October 2019. (AFP)
Harry and Meghan after a roundtable discussion on gender equality with The Queens Commonwealth Trust (QCT) and One Young World at Windsor Castle in Windsor in October 2019. (AFP)

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Harry also discussed how there was “a lot of noise” describing an “attention economy” which is “a shouting match”.

Speaking to Thomas, who founded an anti-bullying organisation, Meghan praised her work, and said: “When that community becomes divisive, when it is not a pack for good, but is a pack of people who gang up on one another, what’s challenging is people don’t feel an escape, and it can feel very lonely in that space.

“It is about knowing your worth.”

She also encouraged people not to share something they consider “horrible” but to “stop it right there”.

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The couple appeared on the video call from their new family home in California, which they bought and moved into early last month.

Social media and using online networks for good is likely to be something the Duke and Duchess of Sussex focus on when they set up Archewell, their non-profit, expected next year.

They have spoken frequently on the topic over recent weeks and even in their time as senior royals.

Writing in Fast Company, Harry said he and Meghan called “business leaders, heads of major corporations, and chief marketing officers” of companies to ask them to drop their advertising at Facebook in July, because they felt “it necessary to say our part about the rise of an unchecked and divisive attention economy”.

The Commonwealth Day service in 2020 was the couple's last engagement as senior royals. (WireImage)
The Commonwealth Day service in 2020 was the couple's last engagement as senior royals. (WireImage)

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Discussing online news when taking part in a virtual summit for The 19th*, Meghan said: “What’s so fascinating, at least from my standpoint and my personal experience the past couple of years, is that the headline alone, the clickbait alone, makes an imprint.

“There is so much toxicity out there.”

The Commonwealth, a voluntary organisation involving 54 nations (the highest membership it has ever had), is understood to be the achievement the Queen is most proud of from her reign. She has visited every nation bar two, Cameroon and Rwanda, which joined more recently.

Harry and Meghan are president and vice president respectively of the QCT. The QCT says it does not represent the views of anyone in the Royal Family.