Why the royal tour of Australia is important for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle

Danielle Stacey
Royal Correspondent
The Duke and Duchess took a two day trip to Ireland in July (PA)

Royal tours are a right of passage, particularly when you marry into the family, as Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle have done.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are due to embark on their first international tour together in October, visiting Australia, New Zealand, Tonga and Fiji.

While there will be many more overseas trips throughout their lifetime, their first will be the most significant – just like the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh’s in 1953 and Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s in 1983.

Further details are still to be announced about their itinerary, but Kensington Palace have stated that their engagements will be focused on youth leadership, environmental and conservation efforts and the recovery and rehabilitation of servicemen and women through the Invictus Games Sydney. 

The future of the Commonwealth

Richard Fitzwilliams, royal commentator, says: “The Commonwealth connection is so precious, especially because of the Queen.

“Harry’s appointment as a Commonwealth Youth Ambassador is important and there is an emphasis on what they [he and Meghan] can do for young people as well as the monarchy.”

Harry’s role is particularly significant, as more than 60 percent of the Commonwealth’s 2.4 billion people are under the age of 30.

In a speech at the opening of the forum back in April, the Prince vowed to work with and listen to youngsters.

He said: “My duty will be to ensure that your ideas, concerns, thoughts, and hopes are heard. And my commitment will be to work with you to build better platforms for your leadership, and to help you collaborate and form partnerships with your peers across nations.”

Prince Harry and Meghan talk with delegates during a reception for the Commonwealth Youth Forum in April (PA)

As well as thinking about the future of the Commonwealth, Fitzwilliams explains that this tour and the couple’s work is likely to concentrate on certain issues of our time, such as mental health and conservation.

He adds: “It is pivotal for young people to see that the royal family has a purpose.”

William, Harry and Kate have played a major role in starting the conversation about mental health and reducing the stigma through the Heads Together campaign and their Royal Foundation.

The Duke of Cambridge launched a ‘Mental Health At Work’ initiative this week, to help support employers and their staff.

Meghan’s first tour

All eyes will be on Meghan during the 16 day trip, her first tour of this magnitude as the Duchess of Sussex. 

Fitzwilliams says: “Meghan is used to the public eye, it will be intense but there is a level of work and planning to get absolutely every detail right and she will cope extremely well.”

There will, of course, be interest in what Meghan wears.

Fitzwilliams explains: “The great advantages of the royal tours is the fashion aspect – it will boost Britain abroad and the host benefits because of the media interest.”

Meghan had the flora of all 53 nations embroidered on to her wedding veil (Getty)

Just like her sister-in-law Kate, Meghan is learning the art of diplomatic dressing, whether it’s the choice of the designer, the colours she’s wearing or a piece of a significant jewellery.

On her wedding day on May 19, Meghan paid tribute to the Queen and the Commonwealth, by having the flora of all 53 nations embroidered on to her veil.

While the Duchess of Sussex is yet to be given any patronages, Fitzwilliams says it’s already clear which issues Meghan is keen to push.

“She has already been quite vocal about female empowerment, diversity, mental health and social injustice, and LGBT issues, with an emphasis on the youth and the future within that.”

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