Prince Harry Is Taking A “Youth Leadership” Role With The Commonwealth — Here’s What That Means
Things are really falling into place for Prince Harry — he's found everlasting love with magical goddess Meghan Markle, this week he got to see Hamilton, and now he has a new job! Indeed, according to The Times, Prince Harry's just taken on a role to make the Commonwealth "relevant to a younger generation," which sounds fairly necessary considering I am technically a member of the younger generation and I don't even know what the Commonwealth is.
According to my intensive Googling efforts, i.e. Wikipedia and the U.K. government's list of Commonwealth nations, the Commonwealth is an intergovernmental political organization made up of former British territories like Canada, Australia, India, South Africa, Barbados, Botswana, Fiji, Kenya, Jamaica, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Cameroon, Guyana, and Belize. Though these nations have their own governing bodies, their membership in the Commonwealth grants them certain special rights and programs dedicated to promoting good government, diplomacy, and sustainable economic development, plus they get to compete in the Commonwealth Games every four years.
Prince Harry's new role with the Commonwealth is a non-political one, according to British daily newspaper The Times, and is intended "to help keep the Commonwealth and its headship relevant to a younger generation," according to Dr Sue Onslow, deputy director of the Institute of Commonwealth Studies at the University of London. It's not clear what he'll be doing on a day-to-day basis, but he is expected to speak at the group's Commonwealth Youth Forum at the Commonwealth's Heads of Government meeting in April, and may have a role at the aforementioned Commonwealth Games, which will take place in Australia this year.
While Prince Harry's new gig sounds more ambassadorial than anything, it is noteworthy that April's summit is expected to address who will succeed Queen Elizabeth II, who was tapped to head the Commonwealth at her coronation in 1953, after she dies. Unlike the crown, Commonwealth succession is not hereditary, and it's not clear who will take on the role next. According to the BBC, the upcoming Heads of Government is expected to be the last one for the Queen, who turns 92 this year. "I imagine the question of the succession, however distasteful it may naturally be, will come up," a senior source told the BBC.
Though it is likely that Prince Charles, who is next in line for the throne, will end up heading the Commonwealth, as Queen Elizabeth took over for father King George VI after he died, it is possible the group will decide to install someone else in an effort to inject the group with a little more democratic oomph. "There are various formulas being played with," a source told the BBC. "Should it always be the heir to the throne or Prince Charles himself? Is it the person or the position?"
Prince Charles is not nearly as popular a royal as his sons, with a YouGov poll this past summer reporting his approval rating at a mere 36 percent — for comparison's sake, Donald Trump's approval rating is currently at 41.4 percent, according to FiveThirtyEight. The poll also found that Prince William is the most well-liked member of the royal family, with an approval rating at 78 percent; Harry's is at 77 percent, though it's 170 percent in my heart.
The Commonwealth itself isn't particularly popular, either, with critics claiming it represents an outdated democratic model harkening back to the colonial days of the British Empire. It does occasionally help sanction despots within its membership — it was reportedly one of the driving forces to help end South African apartheid — but as a recent report in the BBC points out, its record is spotty at best. Prince Harry has his work cut out for him.