Since the Duchess of Sussex stepped back from royal life in March 2020, she has only appeared publicly in Britain as a family member supporting Queen Elizabeth during the Platinum Jubilee. But today, Meghan Markle was center-stage and having her voice heard as she made her first U.K speech since walking away from ‘The Firm’ more than two years ago.
The Duchess of Sussex delivered the keynote speech at the One Young World Summit in Manchester, where she used her moment in the spotlight to tell young people “You are the future…but you are also the present.”
Beginning her speech by saying, “it is very nice to be back in the U.K,” Meghan went on to describe her journey with One Young World since she became involved with the organization in 2014, as well as encouraging young people to embrace their capacity to affect change.
“You are the future,” she told the crowd. “But I would like to add that you are also the present. You are the ones driving the positive and necessary change needed across the globe now in this very moment. And for that I’m so grateful to be in your company today.”
Meghan, who wore a bright red outfit, was introduced as a One Young World counsellor towards the end of the two-hour opening ceremony and walked to the stage alongside husband Prince Harry to cheers from the crown in Manchester’s Bridgewater Hall. It is only the couple’s third joint visit to the U.K since they left royal life and made their home in California. Harry is currently embroiled in an ongoing legal battle with the U.K’s Home Office over the fact he wants automatic police protection for himself and his family when they return to Britain.
The One Young World Summit is a four-day event, this year being held in Manchester, connecting and promoting young leaders from all over the world. Meghan first became involved with One Young World in 2014, long before she met Harry. She also made an appearance for the organization when she was a working royal in October 2019 in her capacity as Vice President of the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust, a role she no longer holds.
Describing her first appearance at One Young World in 2014, Meghan described how she was “overwhelmed” by the opportunity. “At that dinner there were about 20 to 30 of us, the counsellors. And there I was, I was the girl from Suits,” she said. “And I was surrounded by world leaders, humanitarians, prime ministers and activists that I had such a deep and long-standing respect and admiration for. And I was invited to pull up a seat at the table. I was so overwhelmed by this experience. I think I even saved my little paper place card that said my name on it…Because the truth was I wasn’t sure that I belonged. I was so nervous…But One Young World saw in me what I wanted to see fully in myself. They saw in me, just as I see in you, the present and the future.”
Referring to how her life had changed “rather significantly” by the time she made an appearance at One Young World in 2019, she did not mention having become a working royal. Instead, she pointed out, to cheers from the crowd, “My life had changed rather significantly. I was now married and I was now a mom.” Meghan added, “My world view had expanded exponentially seeing the global community through the eyes of my child. I would ask what is this world he would come to adopt, and what can we do—what can I do—to make it better?”
Harry, 37, and Meghan, 41, arrived in the U.K. on Saturday and have been staying at their Windsor property Frogmore Cottage. They are spending the next few days visiting charities close to their hearts, in a trip which has a structure not dissimilar to the royal tours they used to conduct when they were working members of the ‘The Firm.’ Unlike when they were working royals though, now they are no longer representing the Queen, the monarchy, or Britain; instead, their appearances take place solely in a personal capacity.
They have received much criticism since starting on their new path, but interest levels in the couple have not diminished and Harry and Meghan’s current visit is receiving significant coverage across all sections of the media.
Tomorrow, the couple will be in Düsseldorf for an event marking the fact Prince Harry’s Invictus Games will take place there next year. On Thursday, they will attend the WellChild Awards in London.