Harry serves as the president of the Commonwealth Trust while Meghan is its vice president, the Queen is the Commonwealth’s patron. The voluntary association is made up of 53 sovereign states and includes some former British colonies. This week Harry and Meghan took part in a video call with young leaders where the Duke of Sussex said that the Commonwealth needs to follow in the footsteps of others who are “trying to right their wrongs” in order to “move forward”.
He admitted to having his own “unconscious bias”, while Meghan claimed it was a time of “reckoning”, referring to the Black Lives Matter movement which has swept across the globe in recent months.
Yet, Conservative MP Andrew Rosindell told the MailOnline that Harry’s comments were “disappointing” and “not the appropriate thing to do”, as royals are usually apolitical.
He added: “I’m not sure his grandmother would be too pleased either.”
There has been a flurry of backlash on social media as a result, with many pointing out that the Commonwealth is for addressing the problems of the British Empire.
Queen Elizabeth II, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry
The Queen may have been frustrated by Harry’s comments about the Commonwealth, according to experts
A historical glance at the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s previous approach to the Commonwealth shows that they once had a different take on the trust.
In April 2018, The Telegraph reported that in his first speech since being appointed as Commonwealth Youth Ambassador, Harry said he was “grateful” that he and Meghan would be working together, and evidently very pleased.
Addressing Commonwealth youth representatives, he said: “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 how he looked back on the Queen’s 21st birthday and her radio address from Cape Town for inspiration for his speech.
Meghan and Harry during Commonwealth Day Service in 2019
During her historic address, Princess Elizabeth had promised that her whole life would be dedicated to the service of the Commonwealth’s people.
Harry explained: “Her Majesty’s commitment has meant that The Commonwealth is a thriving family of nations, a common link between nearly two and half billion people, and a defender of democracy, justice and peace.”
He added that Meghan was also “hugely excited” to join in the work with Harry.
The Duchess of Sussex’s excitement was also evident from her tribute to it during her May 2018 wedding.
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The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have shown their interest in the Commonwealth throughout their marriage
Meghan’s wedding veil was embroidered with the flowers from Commonwealth nations
She had the state flowers of each Commonwealth nation embroidered on her veil, which she later revealed was a surprise for Harry.
When Meghan was announced as the vice-president of the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust in 2019, royal reporter Victoria Murphy told Town & Country: “The Commonwealth is an institution that is very important to the Royal Family and this patronage signifies to me that we can expect Meghan along with Harry to play a big role in that.”
The couple’s last event as working royals with the rest of the royal frontline was the annual Commonwealth Day Service, back in March.
During the Westminster Abbey service, the Queen said that Commonwealth diversity “makes us stronger”, “by providing the ingredients needed for social, political and economic resilience”.
The Queen announced Charles as her successor as Head of the Commonwealth in recent years
After stepping down from the royal frontline, Harry gave up his title as Commonwealth Youth Ambassador.
However, both he and Meghan kept their roles as President and Vice-President of the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust.
They have also maintained access to their patronages, including Meghan’s patronage of the Association of Commonwealth Universities.
Prince Charles is set to be the Queen’s successor as the head of the Commonwealth.