This has been a year of celebration, commemoration and change. Beginning with a visit to the Vatican to see Pope Francis, it ended in Australia, with the opening of The Commonwealth Games on behalf of The Queen. Carrying out more than 600 hundred engagements in diverse communities around the world, Their Royal Highnesses once again met thousands of people from all walks of life, hearing their stories and marking key moments of celebration and commemoration.
The Commonwealth has, as usual, played an important role in Their Royal Highnesses’s year. The Prince visited 10 of the 53 member countries in the last 12 months, and was supported by The Duchess on six of these visits. Beginning in Canada in June, The Prince and The Duchess celebrated the 150th anniversary of Canada’s Confederation. Later in the Autumn, Their Royal Highnesses visited Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei and India where, in each country, The Prince spoke of the close ties that continue to bind our nations together. Then, just a few weeks later, The Prince visited the low-lying islands of the Caribbean to see for himself the devastation caused by Hurricane Irma. His Royal Highness has long been concerned about the ways in which climate change is worsening these heart-breaking situations. Attending the “Our Ocean” Conference in Malta, he said ‘The sense of urgency to tackle this issue is still lacking…if the unprecedented ferocity of recent catastrophic hurricanes is not the supreme wake-up call that it needs to be in order to address the vast and accumulating threat of climate change and ocean warming then we…can surely no longer consider ourselves as part of a rational and sensible civilisation.’ Throughout the year, The Prince continued his decades of work highlighting other key environmental challenges, with a particular focus on the excessive use of plastics. This important theme gained further traction this year through programmes such as “Blue Planet” and effective national media campaigns.
The year was also punctuated by moments of national commemoration and reflection, in the wake of terrorist atrocities in London and Manchester and the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower, all of which touched The Prince and The Duchess deeply. Their Royal Highnesses visited survivors of these tragedies, together with the outstanding Police, Emergency Services and medical teams whose professionalism shines through such dark episodes. In playing their part to mark these moments, The Prince and The Duchess continue to fulfil the roles of duty and service that have long been defining characteristics of the Monarchy. On a broader stage, The Prince maintained his commitment to promote religious tolerance and greater cultural cohesion. His Royal Highness recorded an Easter message that was broadcast globally on Good Friday, reaching beyond the boundaries of faith and community to encourage greater understanding and co-operation.
Happily, the year has also been punctuated by celebration, particularly within The Royal Family. The Prince and The Duchess spoke publicly of their delight when Prince Harry and Ms. Meghan Markle became engaged. They were equally overjoyed when The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge announced they were having another child. Last Summer, The Duchess of Cornwall celebrated her 70th birthday with a reception at Clarence House for the 90 charities and organisations with whom she has worked most closely since her marriage to The Prince of Wales.