Royal Roundup: Cyber-Bullying, Playdates & Meghan [UPDATED]

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…But not necessarily in that order. So, there’s a few things to catch up on from this past week that didn’t make it into other blog posts. First off, let’s touch base on Meghan Markle, on whose potential move to London we covered on Wednesday. Since then, there’s only been more confirmation that Meghan is indeed leaving her hit television show, including the image above which was shared by the actress’s body double with a caption that essentially wished her well.

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Meghan while filming Suits

Yet, as we noted in the earlier post, none of these moves in and of themselves mean an imminent engagement. Everything is still possible (if not likely), nothing is a foregone conclusion. And so we continue waiting…

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The Duke of Cambridge, meanwhile, launched a new campaign targets cyber-bullying, inclusive of a new hashtag: #stopspeaksupport.

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From the campaign’s website:

The Royal Foundation Taskforce on the Prevention of Cyberbullying was established by The Royal Foundation of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry to work with the technology industry to develop a series of commitments to help prevent the cyberbullying of children and young people, together with the guidance and expertise of charities, not-for-profit organisations and independent advisors. The Taskforce launched in May 2016 to develop an industry-wide response to the online bullying of young people.

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The final meeting of the taskforce was held at Google’s London offices, which included partnership with YouTube. William’s full speech can be viewed on the video platform and I’ve included the full text at the end of this post.

All told, this was a pretty sleek roll out and I loved that the Royal Foundation featured partnership between two of the biggest names in tech. While the Duchess doubles down in maternal mental health, this is certainly a laudable space in which William can invest and one where he has skin in the game as a father.

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Finally, the Daily Mail reported that tennis champ Roger Federer and his wife were seen arriving at Kensington Palace with their children for a playdate with the Cambridges. Adorable. William and Kate are known tennis lovers, particularly Kate, and they’ve all met many, many times thanks to Kate’s participation with Wimbledon. According to the article, the Federers were spotted arriving at KP from their hotel with their two sets of twins for a two-hour playdate with Prince George and Princess Charlotte.

Pictures can be seen here.

We’ll next see the Cambridge duo on Wednesday when the two visit Birmingham on behalf of the Queen. This will make the pair’s first scheduled engagement together since they were in Belgium at the end of July – I am purposefully excluding Kate’s surprise appearances last month, as well as their tour of the KP garden with Prince Harry. This will be followed up with another joint engagement when they both attend the Royal Variety Show this coming Friday. Kate, meanwhile, is scheduled to visit the Foundling Museum on Tuesday, November 28. So, a fair bit of Cambridge activity coming up.

Tomorrow, we’ll circle back to some history and keep our fingers crossed we get some info on how the Royal Family is (privately) marking the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh’s 70th wedding anniversary.

UPDATE: Speaking of the anniversary, a new portrait was just released of the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh in honor of the occasion. The photo was taken earlier this month at Windsor Castle. It’s also been confirmed that the RF will celebrate with a private dinner at Windsor on Monday evening. My new fingers crossed is that we get some arrival photos for other members of the family joining them.

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 Full text of William’s speech on Thursday:

Thank you for joining us today. Can I start my thanking Brent Hoberman, the Chairman of our Taskforce for his hard work and dedication to this project.

For me, the issue of cyberbullying and its consequences are personal.

My work as a HEMS pilot has exposed me to the tragedy of suicide and the despair felt by those who have been subjected to cruelty and abuse.

Through my work on mental health, I have spent time getting to know parents and children for whom the impact of online bullying has been devastating.

And as a parent myself, I understand the sense of loss and anger of those particular families who have lost children after they were the targets of campaigns of harassment.

I feel a responsibility to do what I can to help.

I began work on the issue of cyberbullying a few years ago and as I explored it in more detail, I felt a growing sense of alarm. I came to realise what it meant for bullying – an age old problem – to be supercharged by the power of social media.

New, exciting platforms that at their heart, want to help people make and maintain friendships, were allowing bullies to take their abuse beyond the traditional theatres of classrooms and playgrounds. They could now follow their targets home.

A new generation of young people – tech savvy, connected, and optimistic about the future – were encountering new social spaces without established standards of behaviour to guide them.

And many parents and carers, who seek to make their homes a haven of safety, felt powerless to protect their children. And even worse, some had no idea about the suffering their children were experiencing from bullying that was coming through their phone or their laptop.

My overall sense was that social media was in many ways an ungoverned space, where our children were fending for themselves.

But as I looked into this issue more, I also gained a sense of optimism.

I saw the example of Lucy Alexander, who is with us today. Sadly Lucy lost her son Felix after he experienced terrible bullying online. In her grief she felt compelled to take action. She spoke out and challenged the technology sector to work together to help protect other children from experiencing what Felix had.

And I also realised that while we were encountering new forms of bullying, technology was also openly revealing behaviour that had often been hidden from view in the past. I came to believe that if the tech sector was willing to work together, their powerful tools could actually help children to put respect and support for each other at the heart of the way they interact with their peers.

My hope was that internet companies would see the potential to pool their knowledge and resources to create spaces online that were much safer for our children.

So I established the Cyberbullying Taskforce – through The Royal Foundation – to seize the opportunity that collaboration could bring. The Taskforce has brought together social media platforms and internet service providers with those organisations and individuals who strive to protect and support children and young people. And after a year and a half of hard work and frank discussions, we can today unveil a plan of action to protect children and encourage a new standard of behaviour online.

There are four major planks to our plan.

First, the technology company members of the Taskforce have agreed to adopt new guidelines to improve the process for reporting bullying online, and to create clearer consequences for those who behave unacceptably.

Second, the Taskforce is launching today a new, national campaign to educate children on how to behave with respect and kindness online. The campaign is being driven by the powerful reach of the industry members of the Taskforce.

Third, a new programme will be piloted through Facebook and Snapchat which will see the NSPCC providing emotional support to children in need, as a result of online bullying.

And finally, the companies and charities that have been part of the Taskforce, will continue to work together to provide consistent advice to parents and to continue to take feedback from children and young people as they develop their policies.

Through this process we have all been honest with each other. And of course I have been honest that I had hoped we might be able to go further. I hoped, for example, that the social media companies would agree to a form of standardisation around reporting and clear timelines for handling complaints. I also hoped that the tech companies might create a single, universal tool for children to report bullying when they see it or experience it regardless of which platform it happens on.

I am, however, encouraged that the BBC is looking at the potential for a tech solution along these lines and all I ask is that everyone keeps an open mind as the outcome of the BBC’s work, and other options, emerge in the coming months. There is a lot more that can be done.

I am proud that the Taskforce has generated a plan of action with some practical, industry-driven initiatives and I hope all of you are too. It is a big, important step in the right direction.

It is my view that if this plan is implemented, the U.K. can become a world leader on tackling cyberbullying. Nowhere else has the sector come together and voluntarily agreed to take collective responsibility for tackling an issue like this rather than just promoting your own individual initiatives.

And I am proud that listening to children and parents has been at the heart of our work. It has been their advice which has led us to this ambitious plan of action today.

Now the onus is on the people in this room and the organisations you are a part of.

We have been working together for many months, but today is only the beginning.

In implementing these plans, you have a chance to show that something special has happened here in the U.K., that the rest of the world can learn from.

You have a chance to show what I know you all believe – that technology companies are serious about their social responsibilities.

You have a chance to win the trust of today’s generation of parents, and to help them feel confident about the positive experience their children will have online.

And, you have the opportunity to help children lead the way with respect and positivity to build the vibrant, exciting future that you all believe in.

To the children and young people here today, I want you to know that it is this hope for a positive future that has motivated everything we have done. I am always amazed by the savviness and creativity of your generation. I am excited about the world you are going to create and then lead in decades to come.

And I hope the action plan we are announcing today can help you, in at least a small way, to embrace technology with confidence and optimism.

Thank you.

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