Prince Harry spent Halloween in Chicago with Michelle Obama visiting a school before attending the Obama Foundation Summit where he participated in a talk on the Royal Foundation and the ways that youth can be the drivers of community engagement and development.
I watched the entire conversation and recommend it if you have the time as I enjoyed hearing from Chantelle Stefanovic and David Peterson as well as Harry. I’ve pulled some of Harry’s comments below – I cut out his filler words and stuttering this time as I know many of you don’t like when I include that. My headings are not the exact questions from the interviewer, Mellody Hobson, but rather a general idea of what she was asking.
Did Harry always embrace his royal role and responsibility?
“No, I don’t think I understood it. I think what happened to my mum probably put me a step back, thinking, well, how could someone who did so much for the world and did so much for everybody else could be treated like that by a certain institution? So, it’s takes a bit of getting used to, but, as I said, once you understand the privileged position that you’re in, you’ve then got to spend the rest of your life earning that privilege and giving back and also getting the trust and respect of the general public and also using that position for good.”
The younger generation has turned Harry from a pessimist to an optimist.
“The younger generation of the world has turned me into an optimist because they are the best connected, best the most passionate generation that, I think, that we’ve ever had. And what we need to do is be able to create a platform so that they can be heard, because they have the solutions to some of the world’s biggest problems.”
William, Kate, and Harry have way less charities than other royal family members, how does the trio focus on their charities versus the other royal family members?
“My grandmother had to re-write the rule books, to a certain extent, my father, my mother have also done it their way, and now we’re the younger generation coming through trying to do it our way, because the world has changed so much. We believe that by streamlining and by bringing people together in order to affect real, positive change it is the only way forward. And it worked for previous generations when we would always say yes to becoming patron of a charity, that we believe in and that we’re incredibly passionate about, but I think in today’s world you have to be involved with things that make sense to where your passions lie rather than potentially turning up to a charity once a year. I don’t think that’s necessarily beneficial to anybody. But our mental health campaign, Heads Together, back in the UK is a classic example of where we were able to bring together 8 charities within the mental health sector [he’s given a new mic], we were able to bring together 8 mental health charities that had been working in the sector for many, many, many years, but being able to bring them together and say ‘right, you guys have never sat ’round a table together and discussed the main issues. What we want to be able to do now is, through our foundation, create a platform in which your expertise and your experience is elevated and therefore you tell us what needs to be done around mental health within the UK and globally.’ And they said if you can remove the stigma, that makes our life a lot easier. So that’s exactly what we did, we tried to remove the stigma and tried to normalize the discussion around mental health.”
In the past, royals lent their name to create a halo around an organization, but the younger royals want more direct action and involvement. The interviewer cuts Harry off after he starts to push him on why he thinks the royals have to be more hands on in today’s world.
“I think in today’s world you have to be, I think you have to be much more hands on, and also… If you end up working individually for let’s say 200 charities, in today’s world, I think that kind of dilutes the impact that you can have. What our foundation is all about, and what our platform is all about, is encouraging people to come together, to work together, so that there’s less competition within that sector, whether it’s financially or otherwise, and saying right guys you’re all doing the same thing please let’s get ’round a table, talk to each other, work it out and come up with a long term strategy.”
Why haven’t people brought charities together before, why does the world need another charity in The Royal Foundation?
“So that’s my motto is exactly that, why another charity? Our foundation is not another charity, we’re not trying to take up any more space. I think we all agree the charity sector is quite full at the moment. But as I said, what we’re trying to do is use our platform to be able to bring people together to affect change.”
Why haven’t other people brought people together to affect change?
“Because I genuinely believe that we as a foundation will never be able to compete with some of the other big foundations financially, as weird as that may sound but that’s a fact, what we do have is a unique ability to be able to put our name, and everything that that comes with, to a really good purpose, to a really good cause. And, as I said, there are many good organizations out there that have never come together and that would never sit ’round a table and discuss the topic of which they’re all involved with, but we’ve proven that, we’ve made that possible.”
The trio have leveraged their name to bring people together because it’s hard getting people to work together.
“It’s hard working together as a family, and it’s hard working together when you are scraping for the same money within the same sector, as a lot of people know, but through some of the initiatives that we’ve created – Invictus Games, as an example, that brought together 10, 12 different service charities to be able to share expertise, share knowledge, share experience specifically around mental health so that they are all standardization across the board to make sure that whatever the best practice was everybody was sharing that, therefore if there is a wounded soldier that’s left the forces, that’s been lost in amongst the chaos of everything else, if they stick their head above the parapet and they go to Help for Heroes, one of the charities in the UK, if that’s not for them, like you go to your supermarket everybody chooses the supermarket they want to go to, it’s the same with the charity sector, if you’ve got 101 choices to choose from, every single person is uniquely wired and therefore their cure or their fix will be specific to them, but what we’re able to do is bring everybody together once again ’round a table and say right, you’re now part of a group, you’re part of something, and therefore anybody that comes in gets the opportunity or option of 12 of you rather than 1 of you.”
How does the trio decide what topic to focus the Royal Foundation on?
“Early intervention, where possible, is definitely the key. Impact is definitely, has to be the priority. None of us want to spend the rest of our lives connected to charities of which we’re just making people’s lives better, far rather identify a problem and try and fix it before it becomes and even bigger problem.”
The Royal Foundation has shown it can be successful by listening. Harry goes off into a tangent about media coverage.
“For us, we put the people at the core of everything we do, at the heart of everything we do is the people or the organizations. Yes, fine, in the media most of the time all you’ll hear is our names or what so-and-so is wearing, and all that kind of stuff, but actually our focus is always them. And if that is showing other people how it should be done, then that’s fine. We can’t control who writes what, but it can be quite frustrating when you’re trying to be as positive as possible about a certain issue, and trying to make the focus X, Y, or Z but everybody else is more interested or concerned about something else.”
Isn’t that coverage still bringing attention to the charity that it wouldn’t have otherwise received?
“Um. [mouth noises] No, I think as long as the focus from our perspective is the people on the ground and the organizations of which we are supporting on that day, whatever they want to write about they can write about. But we will do everything we can to make sure that the core of the issue and the charity and their name and the support they’re after is all focused around that.”
Why did Diana receive the moniker “The People’s Princess”, and what did Harry learn from that that informs him?
“I think she had a lot in common with everybody, but also she certainly listened. In a very, very short space of time she was like a vacuum going around, sucking up all the information, all the criticism, all the issues, all the positives, all the negatives from everybody, and then putting her name and her platform toward some of the biggest issues of which had never been talked about. We do, in society we suffer from this illusion, or this reality, where some problems become so big that nobody wants to get involved. She was the one that changed that. I will always look up to her as being my ideal role model because everything she did and the way she did it was having an impact, it was making a difference. … She re-wrote the rule book. She pushed the boundaries more than every before and she was successful and I think that all of the people that she was working with would be incredibly grateful for her pushing those boundaries, but it’s not always easy but in today’s world I think the boundaries need to be pushed more and more.”
[Transcribed from the video below]
I quite like the idea of helping people help themselves, and now that Harry has explained a bit better what the Royal Foundation is trying to achieve with all their ‘listening trips’ to various organizations, that makes sense. However, Harry is wrong in that the Royal Foundation ‘is not another charity, we’re not trying to take up any more space’ because the Royal Foundation does take in money and doesn’t distribute all that money to their charity partners. Like, the Royal Foundation could very well be taking money away from their charity partners, and in effect be competing with them for capital. Also, a very easy way to force the media to write about more than just Kate’s clothes? If Kate actually made a statement at her engagements about the charity. Then the media would cover her statement, too, and not just her clothes.
Before attending the Summit, Harry and Michelle Obama visited Hyde Park Academy. They spent over an hour talking with young people about the importance of young people staying inspired and the power of students using their voices to change the world.
[Kensington Palace @KensingtonRoyal]
Here is a brief video of the conversation. At the end of the video, Harry comments that he doesn’t eat pizza anymore (because Meghan made him stop?) but he had Chicago pizza the night before.
Watch the moment when Prince Harry and @MichelleObama surprised students at a high school in Chicago → pic.twitter.com/2RLyfLEAMx
— Kensington Palace (@KensingtonRoyal) November 2, 2017