The Duke and Duchess of Sussex believe in the shared strength and spirit of Community.
Communities in all forms – of people, geographies, ethnicity, gender and varied socio-economic groups – have the power to effect change, to combat bias and to promote shared values.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex recognise the unique perspectives through which different communities view the world. And though this is a time of unprecedented challenges and polarisation, our communities have the capability to deliver solutions that will build a better future for all.
Through local and global community action, progressive change can be achieved far quicker than ever before. In 2020, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex plan to shape their charitable entity to respond to these pressing needs. After carefully considering a number of foundation models, and having researched the incredible work of many well known and lesser known foundations, The Duke and Duchess are actively working to create something different – a charitable entity that will not only help complement these efforts, but also advance the solutions the world needs most. They look forward to sharing more with you in due course.
“Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.” Archbishop Desmond Tutu
Their Royal Highnesses support many key causes together as well as independently. They will continue to prioritise these causes, alongside the separate patronages that form part of their proud duty to The Monarchy.
The range of communities supported by The Duke of Sussex include groups promoting environmental and societal well-being. While supporting Prince Harry’s work in these areas, The Duchess of Sussex has continued to focus particular energy on women’s empowerment and gender equality, as she has for many years.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are honoured to support these communities and others that enable groups and individuals to benefit from healthy natural environments, strong social support systems, access to basic human needs, and a spirit of tolerance and resilience. It is through this connection that we, as people, are able to not simply survive – but to thrive.
The call to protect our environment is more urgent now than at any other time in human history. What used to be subtle changes to seasonal occurrences about 40 years ago, have now become year round disasters with an immense human cost. From fires and pollution to floods and hurricanes, there is an imbalance in our climate that comes at a desperate cost. Supported by overwhelming scientific evidence, our earth and seas are warming, and temperatures continue to rise. Our natural resources and critical ecosystems are facing unprecedented, and in some cases, permanent destruction. As we all now know, our planet is in crisis. It is estimated that by the year 2050, our planet will need to sustain 9.8 billion inhabitants – a number that will create unimaginable strain on our only home. The Duke of Sussex believes that we can meet the challenges by working together to build truly sustainable communities—communities that are capable not only of overcoming the immediate crises we face, but of preventing future crises. Below are a few examples of how The Duke of Sussex engages in this space.
The Duke of Sussex has spent the last 22 years visiting the continent of Africa, where he has dedicated his time to learn from researchers, guides and veterinarians who are subject matter experts in their field. They have shaped his understanding of the environmental challenges we face. After completing his 10 years of military service in the Army in 2015, The Duke dedicated three months to broadening his knowledge within the conservation sector by working in Namibia, Tanzania, South Africa, and Botswana. His work ranged from environmental education programmes to anti-poaching patrols with rangers in South Africa’s Kruger National Park. All of these experiences have propelled his lifelong commitment to those that are safeguarding these global assets. The Duke is particularly passionate about frontline conservation projects that support both wildlife and local communities, where the symbiotic relationship has proven greatly beneficial. In 2017, he became President of African Parks, a non profit organisation which takes on direct responsibility for the rehabilitation and long term management of protected areas, in partnership with governments and local communities.
Our planet’s health is directly connected to our health. When our earth suffers from illness, so do we. The Duke of Sussex supports environmental efforts all over the world, from beach clean ups, planting trees across the globe, protecting forests through The Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy, and supporting grassroots conservation efforts. The Duchess of Sussex has proudly joined her husband in many of these initiatives.
In searching for a solution to the root cause of conservation’s most pressing issues, the Duke cited the tourism industry as being perfectly placed to refocus modern day tourism as one that embraces local community, and connects with people and their land. After three years of research and development, Travalyst was founded.
Travalyst is a bold new global initiative led by The Duke of Sussex and co-founded by Booking.com, Skyscanner, Trip.com, Tripadvisor and Visa, with the ambition to change the impact of travel for good. Travalyst hopes to be the driving force that paves a new way to visit communities, helping everyone explore our world in a way that protects both people and places, and secures a positive future for destinations and local communities for generations to come. This sector is perhaps one of the greatest threats, but can be one of the greatest opportunities to heal many of the world’s problems. The tourism industry generates nearly nine trillion dollars, creates one in 10 jobs worldwide, and will have serviced approximately 1.5 billion international trips in 2019 alone. Projections show a rapid increase in the number of people wanting to travel over the next 30 years. Due to the inevitability of this growth, Travalyst aims to turn this projection into a positive. His Royal Highness has been holding internal meetings since July 2019 where he has proudly shared the detailed concept as well as a consumer awareness video for this bold initiative. He looks forward to sharing more with you soon, as he and the Travalyst partners truly believe this initiative can help drive a more connected world for all of us.
Through years of conversation with people who are grappling with mental health challenges and recovering from trauma, The Duke of Sussex has seen how much easier it is for people to heal and grow when they’re surrounded by a supportive and connected community. When individuals are met with acceptance instead of stigma, love instead of judgment, and inclusion instead of isolation, they can develop to their fullest potential no matter what their experience.
Too often, the stigma attached to mental health prevents people who are struggling from seeking the support that they need. The Duke of Sussex firmly believes that the management of mental wellness and mental fitness is the answer to most of our problems. From the armed forces community to marginalised youth, to speaking out about his own experiences, Prince Harry has become a figurehead of the mental health movement. After a year and a half of development, The Duke will be launching a special mental health series on AppleTV+ which he has co-created and executive produced with Oprah Winfrey. The aim of the series explores the stigmatisation of mental health and strives to equip people from all backgrounds with the right information and tools to thrive. His commitment to mental wellness has been an undercurrent of much of his work since 2011 and includes the Heads Together campaign which he, and The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge spearheaded in 2017. This campaign began a more positive and productive conversation about mental wellness within the United Kingdom and helped raise vital funds for eight mental health charities.
The Duke has been a passionate supporter of the fight against HIV/AIDS since a young age, wanting to do what he could to carry on his mother’s legacy. After completing his education in 2003, he visited the Kingdom of Lesotho for nine weeks and met with children who had been orphaned by the AIDS pandemic. The Duke and his friend, Prince Seeiso of Lesotho, co-founded Sentebale to offer long-term support to community organisations working with children and young people affected by HIV/AIDS. The name ‘Sentebale,’ which means ‘forget me not’ in Sesotho, reflects the organisation’s determination to ensure that these children’s plight is not forgotten. In addition, these two princes view Sentebale as a memorial to the charity work of their own mothers.
Most recently, The Duke has been supporting Gareth Thomas, a former Welsh International Rugby player, who in November 2019 spoke out about being HIV positive. The impact of Gareth’s courage has rippled across the world, and his honesty and strength have helped de-stigmatise this virus, and consequently save thousands of lives. Along with Terrence Higgins Trust, Gareth and The Duke of Sussex believe everyone should know their HIV status by getting tested which will normalise the process and remove the fear for those who are at risk.
During the 10 years that The Duke served in the Armed Forces, including two tours of duty in Afghanistan, he witnessed the incredible lengths to which service members would go in order to keep communities and each other safe. He also saw how, across the globe, so many communities were lacking the understanding and appreciation for the sacrifices they make while serving their country.
Since his tours of Afghanistan, he has highlighted the support that wounded, injured and sick service personnel and veterans need through the rehabilitation process. The Duke has also worked to bring wider public attention to some of the potential challenges that service personnel might face as they make the transition to civilian life, as well as the enormous contribution they make to society.
During and post his service, The Duke of Sussex has seen first-hand that combat injuries—despite the limitations they can impose—do not curb a person’s bravery, ambition, or sense of adventure. He has sought to promote meaningful physical activity as a pathway to healing, as he is continually amazed and inspired by the abilities of these individuals.
The Endeavour Fund, which The Duke established in 2012, provides opportunities for wounded, injured and sick service personnel to incorporate sport and exploration into their recovery process. The Fund supports activities—ranging from triathlons to adaptive surfing, to climbing certification courses and breaking world records—enabling service members to rebuild both their physical and mental fitness, gain the confidence that could be lost, and to reconnect with loved ones and community once more.
Upon seeing members of the British Armed Forces compete in the Warrior Games in Colorado 2013, The Duke of Sussex was inspired to create and launch the Invictus Games. An international sporting event for wounded, injured, and sick service members, both serving and veteran, as well as their families and a global audience. The Games use the power of sport to inspire recovery, support rehabilitation, and generate wider understanding and respect for all who serve their countries on a daily basis. The first Invictus Games were held at the Olympic Park in London in 2014, followed by Orlando (2016), Toronto (2017), and Sydney (2018). Invictus Games 2020 will be hosted in The Hague, (Netherlands). The Duke takes an active role in planning and promoting the Games, bringing greater visibility to the resilience and courage of those that wear the uniform, as well as their families and friends who have shared in their sacrifice and success.
In 2014, The Duke of Sussex began volunteering in London’s Personnel Recovery Unit, which supports wounded, injured, and sick service members in their healing process. During their time at Personnel Recovery Centres, service members receive comprehensive physical and mental health support—including medical care, skills training, personalised recovery plans, and community activities. The Duke is deeply committed to advocating for these service members and honoured to have the chance to play a part in their recovery.
It is well known that participating in sport, encourages physical health, teaches vital life skills, builds community—and simply brings people joy. The Duke continues to support “sport for development” initiatives because he has seen firsthand the effect it has on marginalised youth, veterans, the disabled, and nearly any man or woman seeking a balance in their own mental fitness. For The Duke, this is all interconnected.
Amidst the enthusiasm of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, The Duke of Sussex, along with The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, established Coach Core. This national programme offers athletic training, mentoring and coaching for young adults in inner city schools.
The Duke of Sussex is a committed advocate of Made by Sport, the largest-ever fundraising campaign to support grassroots sporting activities in the United Kingdom. As The Duke said at the launch in early 2020, “Made by Sport is about providing an opportunity to young people all over the country to be part of something. Something they might not be getting at home or within their own community, but the moment they walk through the doors of a sports club or a gym, they are part of a team…with purpose.”
Empowerment of Women and Girls
Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Sussex is deeply committed to advancing gender equity, empowering women and girls, and working within the community on a grassroots level to encourage women to recognise their inherent value. This has been important to her since the age of 11 when she witnessed a sexist television advertisement and campaigned to have the commercial changed. Due to her determination to fight for what was right, the manufacturer changed the national commercial. The Duchess of Sussex speaks of this moment as the catalyst for her understanding that one small voice can have one very large impact.
Working with women to reinforce their personal sense of worth and empowerment has been long important to The Duchess of Sussex. Prior to becoming a member of the Royal Family, Her Royal Highness worked with organisations which aim to uplift women’s role in society. With UN Women, The Duchess traveled to Rwanda to meet female leaders at the parliamentary and grassroots level, including in government and at Gihembe refugee camp. She later supported the organisation in their first public service announcement, and as UN Women’s Advocate for Women’s Political Participation and Leadership, gave an inspiring speech on gender equity on International Women’s Day 2015. Before joining the Royal Family, The Duchess also aligned with other organisations such as the human rights group, World Vision, to advance the rights of young women and girls. More details on this work can be found in the sections below.
In her year and a half as a member of the Royal Family, The Duchess has quickly forged relationships with grassroots organisations in her new home of The United Kingdom, offering her support to women in her community. In Early 2018, The Duchess visited a small kitchen at The Al Manaar Heritage Center that provided access for those in the Grenfell community to cook meals for their families in the wake of the devastating fire that destroyed both lives and homes. With many quiet visits over the course of the year, The Duchess collaborated with the women to highlight their multicultural recipes in a cookbook that enabled the kitchen to be available for use seven days a week, instead of two. “Together, Our Community Cookbook“, was published by Penguin Random House in September 2018 and became a bestseller on the Sunday Times Booklist and the New York Times Bestseller List. The proceeds from this successful project, of which The Duchess wrote the foreword, has also enabled each of the women to spearhead their own projects within the community, paying it forward and sharing their success with others in need.
In the same spirit in 2019, The Duchess became patron of Smartworks, an organisation dedicated to assisting women as they mobilise out of difficult times and into the workforce. This small non-profit equips women with the clothing and interview training they need to excel at their job interviews, and allows them to return for further support once they have secured employment. On one of her visits, The Duchess noticed an absence of wardrobe essentials, and worked behind the scenes to convene four clothing retailers to create the The SmartSet capsule collection for Smartworks clients. This special edition collection which launched September 2019 utilised the 1:1 model which The Duchess felt was vital for the consumer to actively be a part of each Smartworks woman’s success story. For every item purchased, the same item was donated to a woman at Smartworks. The success of the sold-out collection has equipped the organisation with enough key essentials to dress their clients for one full year.
In 2019, The Duchess also worked with Edward Enninful, Editor-in-Chief of British Vogue to collaborate as Guest Editor for the hugely popular September issue. Their shared vision of creating an issue of impact, entitled Forces for Change (FFC) became the fastest selling issue in Vogue’s 104 year history, and the best selling issue of the last decade. This edition of British Vogue featured 15 women on the cover, personally selected by the Duchess and Mr Enninful, each championing change in their local communities and on a global scale, as well as a mirror for the reader to see themselves as a force for change. Within this special edition, readers were able to find articles of inspiration, inclusivity, female empowerment, and fashion with purpose. As Enninful said, Forces for Change has proven to not simply be a moment, but rather “a movement” and has dedicated a FFC page to each monthly issue of British Vogue henceforth.
More than 130 million girls worldwide do not attend school, due to factors including child labour, early marriage, health, cost, cultural stigmatisation or gender inequality. The Duchess of Sussex began working with organisations to assist girls in developing countries to have access to education prior to becoming a member of the Royal Family. In 2016, The Duchess traveled to Rwanda as Global Ambassador for World Vision, where she worked on a community project that enabled young girls to stay in school. During this visit, The Duchess said, “I think there’s a misconception that access to clean water is just about clean drinking water; which, of course, it is. But it’s so much more than that. Access to clean water in a community keeps young girls in school, because they aren’t walking hours each day to source water for their families.” While on this trip, The Duchess was struck by another element which was hindering young girls from continuing their education – the stigmatisation surrounding menstrual health management (MHM).
It was for this reason that in 2017, The Duchess traveled to India to further explore this vital issue. She worked closely with The Myna Mahila Foundation, a grassroots organisation founded by Suhani Jalota which combats the stigma around menstruation and empowers women living in slum communities to manufacture affordable sanitary products that they can sell, enabling their daughters to stay in school, while also creating microfinance. As The Duchess of Sussex described in an Op-Ed she wrote for Time magazine, “When we empower girls hungry for education, we cultivate women who are emboldened to effect change within their communities and globally.” Now as a member of the Royal Family and Vice-President of The Queens Commonwealth Trust, Myna Mahila is now a part of The QCT to support them in their continued growth and support for MHM and girls education.
Advocating for the self-esteem of young women and teen girls, and encouraging young women to reach their full potential has always been important to The Duchess of Sussex. In 2014, The Duchess was a counsellor for One Young World, an impact forum for young leaders around the world, allowing them a platform to make great change for the future. She continued for work with the organisation at their global summit in Ottawa in 2016, and again, but then as a member of the Royal Family, in 2019 in London.
Prior to becoming a member of the Royal Family, in 2015, The Duchess also aligned with Dove’s Self-Esteem campaign for International Day of the Girl, to support programming for educators and schools to foster self-confidence in young women and teen girls. With the influence of the digital community and social media, The Duchess was aware of the susceptibility of young women online, and wanted to equip them with the tools they needed to know their self-worth.
“Carry out a random act of kindness, with no expectation of reward, safe in the knowledge that one day someone might do the same for you.” Diana, Princess of Wales