Published 28 February 2018

When we work together, we are greater than the sum of our parts." – The Duke of Cambridge on the impact of The Royal Foundation and its ability to bring people together to tackle big issues.

The Duke of Cambridge

Good morning everybody. Catherine, Harry and I are delighted to be here this morning. And we are particularly happy to be at our first Royal Foundation event with Meghan.

Today is a special day for us. Since 2011 when we established The Foundation, we have regularly brought people together under the banners of Coach Core, United for Wildlife, the Invictus Games, Heads Together, the Cyberbullying Taskforce, the Endeavour Fund, and Full Effect. What we have never done is bring all of our friends, partners, and supporters together as part of The Royal Foundation family.

Today we want to reflect on what we have built with all of you. Ten years ago Harry and I were still serving full-time in the military, but we were starting to look to the next stages of our lives. As we discussed together the best way to set out on our official work, we looked to the values our family had instilled in us.

Both our parents had provided for us an example of diligence, compassion and duty in all they did. Our grandparents, The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh, had made support for charity central to their decades of service to the nation and the Commonwealth.

The task for us would not be to reinvent the wheel. Instead, our job was to follow the example of those who had come before us, hold on to the values that have always guided our family, but seek to engage in public life in a way that was updated and relevant for our generation.

We were aware that the modern charity sector was very different to the one that previous generations had worked alongside. The generosity of the British people, and the entrepreneurial and creative passion that is at the heart of our communities had seen the number of charities grow from a few thousand in the 1950s to around 180,000 today. 

Social media was changing the way people engaged in issues, making it easier to campaign than ever before, and engaging young people in new and exciting ways. The diversity of our society was creating huge opportunities to get people from all walks of life involved in tackling important challenges. To provide the meaningful leadership and support to the sector that our parents and grandparents had, we would need to think about our roles in a different way.

We approached the answer to this question by establishing The Royal Foundation, our own foundation which would help us explore big issues that are close to our hearts.

When Catherine joined us after our wedding in 2011, we discussed that what made The Royal Family different to other institutions was its ability to focus on the long-term.  In an age when our pressures seem so urgent, our attention spans so short, our Foundation could look beyond the horizon.

We knew we had the chance to work with experts to not just raise awareness about issues, but do the much harder work of truly changing mind sets. We would not seek quick wins, but would strive to make a real and lasting difference. And we would seek to make that difference in areas that are traditionally considered difficult to make an impact in.

What we have learned is that, to make this difference, we have to be clear and disciplined about how we seek to provide leadership. What would make our Foundation unique would be its ability to make a difference by bringing people together. There are Foundations out there doing amazing work powered by endowments worth billions. But we believed we could help achieve big, positive, long-term changes by being the leading convening force in the charitable sector.

We would not try to do things on our own. We would build our Foundation with an open door. We would not rely just on our own ideas. We would invite the best and brightest to sit with us around the table. We would not celebrate individual successes, but would build teams and partnerships for collective victories.

And we would lead by example, by working across our generation as a family. We have been quiet in terms of talking about The Royal Foundation in the early years. We wanted to make sure we learned from our partners and supporters before we shouted too loudly about what we were doing.

Today though, I hope everyone in this room has reasons for pride and confidence about what we have achieved by working together. Coach Core has brought together sports clubs, councils, trainers, and apprentices to create a programme that spans 10 cities so far, and has led to 25,000 coaching sessions and hundreds of thousands of coaching interactions in the past year alone.

United for Wildlife has allowed our leading conservation charities to step up their work to save iconic species from extinction. We have taken their messages into the offices of Presidents and CEOs the world over and delivered on the ground support to those on the front lines of the fight against the Illegal Wildlife Trade.

The Invictus Games have been a remarkable convening success for The Foundation. The most recent games brought together the armed forces of 17 nations, dozens of military charities, hundreds of competitors, and thousands of supporters to forever change the way we viewed wounded, injured and sick servicemen and women.

With the help of eight leading charities, Heads Together has reached millions of people as we work to forever change the conversation on mental health. And with our partners and leading experts, we are now working to provide practical tools to support these conversations wherever they happen – online, at home, in the workplace, in the services, or in schools.

More recently, the Cyberbullying Taskforce brought together young people, academics, social media firms, and telecommunications companies to come up with an action plan for tackling a growing problem.      

These are just some of the examples of The Royal Foundation's work. They show that in just a few years, The Foundation has made a difference on a wide range of issues.

And while the issues may all be different, The Foundation's projects have shared important similarities. All of the projects have seen us working to change mind sets to make a real and lasting difference. They have all seen us trying to tackle the biggest challenges of the day. They have all seen The Foundation listening and taking advice from charities and experts, rather than showing up and pretending we have all the answers. And they have all seen us uniting people, forming teams and coalitions, to work to make a difference together.

When we work together, we are greater than the sum of our parts. When we work together, we bring unlimited creativity, passion, and expertise to the table. When we work together, we can achieve incredible things. We hugely value working together with all of you.

Today we want to celebrate this spirit of togetherness. We want to reflect on what we've achieved. And we want you to work with us as we consider what we might do next.

Thank you for your support.