And so we are off! The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) is officially underway in London, with meetings, receptions and events scheduled throughout the week, a number of which will be attended by members of the British Royal Family. Prince Harry carried out the first royal appearance this morning, which started with the announcement that the Queen appointed him Commonwealth Youth Ambassador, an important role given that 60 percent of the Commonwealth’s population are under 30.
This marks Harry’s first official public role. Tellingly, it’s one that will require considerable travel abroad, trips on which he will more than likely be accompanied by Meghan Markle after their marriage.
He noted as much during his speech this morning at the Commonwealth Youth Forum:
I know that serving as an ambassador to young people I am going to have to try to keep up with you. I am working now to plan my first year in this role. And my hope is to convene young leaders from across The Commonwealth to discuss how best we can make Commonwealth platforms work for you, and to ensure maximum impact.
Both here in the UK and as I travel, my job will be to listen to you. My duty will be to ensure that your ideas, concerns, thoughts, and hopes are heard. And my commitment will be to work with you to build better platforms for your leadership, and to help you collaborate and form partnerships with your peers across nations.
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.
At the same event, Harry presented the Commonwealth Person of the Year Award to Usman Iftikhar from Australia. Alongside Prime Minister Theresa May, Harry also attended a meeting of the Commonwealth Youth Council and Youth Taskforce.
A new job from the Queen, a speech and a joint event with the PM – not too shabby a start for Harry. And if that wasn’t enough, he also met with the Prime Minister of Fiji at Buckingham Palace:
Later in the day, the Queen’s second son, the Duke of York, carried out two engagements – the Commonwealth Science Conference and the Commonwealth Pitch@Palace reception at St James’s Palace. His sister-in-law, the Countess of Wessex, also attended The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust Reception at Tower Bridge this evening.
As for the Duke of Cambridge, his first appearance was also this evening when he attended the Welcome to the UK Reception. As second-in-line to the throne, it was an appropriate headliner event for him to take on today. He delivered a speech, in which he said:
“My purpose here on stage tonight is to welcome you to the United Kingdom, and I am delighted to do so. If I may, though my duty is to formally welcome you on behalf of the whole country, I wanted to extend a personal note of welcome too. During the course of this week, across all the different events, you will be seeing a lot of the Royal Family.
“For us in the Royal Family, supporting The Queen who has dedicated her life loyally and without fail to the Commonwealth is an enormous honour.
“We hope, above all, that you prosper from your time together this week and that your sense of family deepens. It is a great pleasure for me and for all of the family to share your week with you.”
You can read the full speech here.
Meanwhile, it’s been reported that the Commonwealth’s 53 leaders will meet on Friday to decide whether or not the Prince of Wales has their support to succeed his mother as Head of the Commonwealth. As a reminder, though Charles will be king by birthright, the role of Head of Commonwealth is not related to the crown’s succession and he must have majority consensus to take over. That said, it was long taken for granted that he would follow the Queen – if he doesn’t get the official nod to do so it’ll be…pretty bad.
Earlier today Downing Street confirmed that Charles has the support of the UK, though it noted it was a matter on which the Commonwealth nations had to decide together.
And last but not least, The Queen’s Green Planet will air on television this evening. In it, the Queen speaks with David Attenborough about the Queen’s Canopy, a forestry project active in Commonwealth nations around the globe. Also featured in the program will be William and Haryy, as well as the Duchess of Cambridge. All three have carried out engagements related to the project in recent years.
As for Kate, we’re still in “wait and see” mode for Cambridge Baby #3. She was spotted out in Hungerford over the weekend with her brother, James Middleton. He reportedly purchased a country home nearby and tapped his sister to help with decoration. Presumably, though, she is back in London this week with the kids in school and William participating in CHOGM.
We’ll cover Day Two of CHOGM tomorrow. You can read up on the schedule here.