How Queen Elizabeth II's Youth Video Call Differed From Harry and Meghan's Call to Arms

Queen Elizabeth II has led a meeting with the same international youth organization which Prince Harry and Meghan Markle used last year to trigger a debate about the British Empire.

The 95-year-old monarch on Friday took part in a video call with young leaders from around the world who are helped by the Queen's Commonwealth Trust (QCT).

The Queen is head of the Commonwealth of Nations, one of the biggest success stories of the Monarch's reign, which redefined the relationship between Britain and the countries that made up its former empire.

QCT helps to support young people across the 54 countries of the Commonwealth, and until February had Prince Harry as its president and Meghan as its vice-president.

And the difference in style between the Sussexes and the queen is clear based on a comparison between Friday's event and a dramatic intervention made by the couple around this time last year.

Meghan and Harry used their roles with QCT to trigger a debate about Britain's imperial past, on July 1, 2020.

Prince Harry said at the time: "When you look across the Commonwealth, there is no way that we can move forward unless we acknowledge the past."

And Meghan added: "It's not just in the big moments, it's in the quiet moments where racism and unconscious bias lies and hides and thrives.

"It makes it confusing for a lot of people to understand the role that they play in that, both passively and actively."

🇲🇻 The Queen spoke to Safaath Ahmed Zahir from the Maldives.

🗳 Supported by a @queenscomtrust grant, Safaath runs an NGO encouraging women’s political participation.

📞 In lockdown, @wdmaldives supported 130+ victims of domestic & sexual abuse by setting up a helpline. pic.twitter.com/HvGT3yDm0r

— The Royal Family (@RoyalFamily) July 16, 2021

The comments led Daily Mail columnist Robert Hardman to write a scathing piece headlined: "Dear Harry, check your history before making howlers about your grandmother's finest achievement."

The journalist accused the prince of mistaking the Commonwealth for the empire, pointed out not all member countries were former colonies and added that "it keeps on getting bigger" because states want "to join this post-imperial 'club'."

However, Seth George Ramocan, Jamaica's High Commissioner, backed the couple, telling the Today show: "This really should be a matter of open discussion and acknowledgement of what the wrongs were, particularly through the slave trade and how we come to a common understanding about this."

The queen's meeting last week was, however, a markedly less eventful affair as she chatted to several young leaders about the work they have been doing.

Safaath Ahmed Zahir, founder of NGO Women and Democracy in the Maldives, told the Monarch: "With the QCT grant, a total of 130-plus women who were experiencing violence were assisted with prompt, quality care and services for their safety and mental wellbeing."

"That's very interesting to hear about it and it's obviously been very successful," the queen said. "Go on trying."

The low-key event was typical of the queen's style of royalty, steering through calm waters, content not to cause big headlines.

Harry and Meghan's roles at QCT were revoked in February alongside other honorary titles.

At the time, Buckingham Palace said in a statement: "The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have confirmed to Her Majesty The Queen that they will not be returning as working members of The Royal Family.

"Following conversations with The Duke, The Queen has written confirming that in stepping away from the work of The Royal Family it is not possible to continue with the responsibilities and duties that come with a life of public service."

Minutes afterwards, Harry and Meghan's spokesperson said: "We can all live a life of service. Service is universal."

In Focus

Queen Elizabeth II Speaks to QCT

Queen Elizabeth II speaks to young leaders from the Queen's Commonwealth Trust on July 16, 2021, from Windsor Castle. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were president and vice-president until February.
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