Young people’s voices must be heard at the highest levels, the Duke of Sussex has told a Commonwealth Youth roundtable meeting in London.
Harry welcomed by Commonwealth Secretary-General Baroness Scotland when he arrived at Marlborough House on Thursday.
He was wearing a smart grey suit and a pink tie, a day after he was dressed in his polo clothes for a head-to-head charity match with his brother the Duke of Cambridge.
He also received a hug from Irene Kendi, the Youth Adviser for Kenya, at the event, which discussed the key issues that affect the Commonwealth’s youth population in their countries.
Harry said: “It’s up to all of us to ensure young people’s voices are heard and their interests protected, but it’s the people who have the power to shape policy for young people – all of you – that must champion them at the highest levels.”
Baroness Scotland described the duke’s presence as a “particular pleasure” and he laughingly said “it’s nice and warm in here,” when she complained about the heat in the room.
“This is the very first time we have done this … and we have tried to select the brightest and the best around the Caribbean,” she said.
She went on to describe the conference as an opportunity to “brain storm and to plot” how the issues in the different countries can be addressed with the aim of “accelerating youth policy implementation in the Commonwealth”.
The event was attended by Commonwealth and senior officials, highlighted the issue of financing youth development, and also of having support for youth workers at grassroots level to tackle the major challenges facing their respective countries.
This year marks the 70th anniversary of the modern Commonwealth, which represents a global network of 53 countries and almost 2.4 billion people, a third of the world’s population, of whom 60% are under 30.
The roundtable comes in the run-up to next year’s Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, which will take place in Rwanda.
Harry was made a Commonwealth Youth Ambassador by the Queen last year, and he works to create links between young people and youth leaders of the Commonwealth.
He also encourages them to use Commonwealth platforms to address the social, economic, and environmental challenges of their generation.
The duke’s work to highlight youth-led initiatives throughout the Commonwealth also includes his role as president of The Queen’s Commonwealth Trust.
The QCT exists to champion, fund and connect young leaders around the world, and the Queen is patron and the Duchess of Sussex is vice president.
The duke also supports two major projects launched in recent years in recognition of the Queen’s lifetime of service to the Commonwealth – Queen’s Young Leaders and The Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy.