Prince Harry has made a heartfelt speech at the Commonwealth Youth Forum in London, where he said he was “incredibly grateful” that the “woman I am about to marry” will be joining him in his new job as Commonwealth Youth Ambassador.
The 33-year-old praised his bride-to-be Meghan Markle, 36, and said she was “hugely excited” to help young people across the Commonwealth.
The prince received a special cheer from the audience when he mentioned Meghan’s name.
He said: “In my new role, I will work to support The Queen, my father The Prince of Wales, and my brother William, all of whom know that young people are the answer to the challenges of today.
“I am also incredibly grateful that the woman I am about to marry, Meghan, will be joining me in this work, of which she too is hugely excited to take part in.”
Harry was speaking to a room of Commonwealth youth representatives, and joked that he knew he had a big job ahead of him. “I know that serving as an ambassador to young people I am going to have to try to keep up with you,” he told the audience.
The Commonwealth has a very young demographic, with 60 percent of the population of the 53 member nations under the age of 30.
Meghan is already being groomed for a senior role in the royal family and will be attending two events this week as part of the Commonwealth gathering – the Commonwealth Youth Forum on Wednesday and a Women’s Empowerment reception on Thursday.
This move marks a big step up for Meghan, and sets her apart from Kate Middleton who had a far slower introduction into public life.
The couple are also expected to join the Queen and other senior members of the royal family at the formal opening of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting at Buckingham Palace on Thursday.
In his speech Harry praised the young people of the Commonwealth. “As I travel around the Commonwealth in my work on behalf of the Royal Family, it is striking to see just how different today’s generation of young adults are,” he said.
“You are connected. You have made positive use of technology to build relationships within your communities, nations and across the globe.
“You care. You want your nations to be cleaner, your planet to be greener, your friends and neighbours to be treated fairly and with respect, no matter their ethnicity, their religion, or their status,” he continued.
“You are optimistic. The complicated challenges we face – climate change, inequality, conflict – they do not discourage you. Rather, they inspire you to persevere and effect change.”
Harry also praised his grandmother in his speech. “When I was reflecting on how to make the biggest impact with this new role, I turned to the ultimate source of guidance on all things Commonwealth: the words of the Queen herself,” he explained.
“On the day of her 21st birthday, the then Princess Elizabeth gave an extraordinary radio address from Cape Town. With an eye on the future, and an already unflinching sense of duty, she made a commitment.
“She said that whether her life be long or short, it would be dedicated to the service of the people of The Commonwealth. All of us here today can be grateful that it is a long life the Queen is still enjoying.
“Her Majesty’s commitment has meant that The Commonwealth is a thriving family of nations, a common link between nearly two and a half billion people, and a defender of democracy, justice, and peace.”
The prince has already announced that he and his new wife plan to visit many Commonwealth countries after they are married.
His and Meghan’s nuptials take place at Windsor Castle on May 19.