What do you get the couple who has everything?
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have taken guess work out of gift giving for their wedding next month. The palace announced Monday that the couple have requested wedding gifts be made in the form of a donation to a selection of personally selected charities.
“Prince Harry & Ms. Meghan Markle are incredibly grateful for the goodwill they have received since their engagement, & have asked that anyone who might wish to mark the occasion of their wedding considers giving to charity, instead of sending a gift,” the palace said in a statement on Twitter.
“The couple have personally chosen 7 charities which represent a range of issues that they are passionate about, including sport for social change, women’s empowerment, conservation, the environment, homelessness, HIV and the Armed Forces.”
The charities include: CHIVA (Children’s HIV Association), which supports children growing up with HIV and their families, across the U.K. and Ireland.
Prince Harry has made it his mission to continue his late mother, Princess Diana’s efforts to raise awareness about HIV and AIDS through his royal work. Harry has campaigned for people to take HIV tests and even publicly took one himself.
Dr. Amanda Williams, Chair of CHIVA, said: “We are delighted and honored that Prince Harry and Ms. Meghan Markle have chosen to recognize our work supporting the health and wellbeing of children and young people living with HIV in the UK and Ireland. We are grateful for the opportunity to raise awareness of the complex issues for young people growing up with HIV. We are a very small charity and through our work we support over 1,000 young people living with HIV. All donations will make a significant difference to our programs of work and lead to direct improvements in the lives of these young people.”
Next is Crisis, the national charity for homeless people. Prince Harry and Prince William both champion causes that support the homeless, which was another issue close to their mother’s heart.
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Jon Sparkes, Chief Executive of Crisis, said: “We are hugely grateful that Prince Harry and Ms. Markle are asking the public to support Crisis as they celebrate their wedding. Homelessness is one of the most urgent issues of our time, but at Crisis we know what it takes to end it. Donations will help us to support more people to leave homelessness behind through our housing, employment, education and advice services across the country, and to campaign for the changes needed to solve the homelessness crisis once and for all.”
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They’ve also selected the Myna Mahila Foundation — a charity which empowers women in Mumbai’s urban slums, by providing them with a trusted network, where they are supported professionally and personally to help them grow as individuals and businesswomen. Meghan visited the foundation last year and opened up about the powerful week she spent in India to learn about the issues and challenges the women and girls who live there face.
“I traveled to Delhi and Mumbai this January with World Vision to meet girls and women directly impacted by the stigmatization of menstrual health and to learn how it hinders girls’ education,” she wrote in a moving essay for Time.com.
“During my time in the field, many girls shared that they feel embarrassed to go to school during their periods, ill equipped with rags instead of pads, unable to participate in sports, and without bathrooms available to care for themselves, they often opt to drop out of school entirely,” she continued.
Suhani Jalota, who founded Myna Mahila in 2015, said: “Myna Mahila Foundation is delighted to be a part of this special occasion for Ms. Meghan Markle and Prince Harry. This support will enable us to expand our reach into more urban slums in Mumbai, empowering local women through access to menstrual hygiene products and employment opportunities.”
Also selected is Scotty’s Little Soldiers, the charity for bereaved Armed Forces children. Inspired by the experience of war widow Nikki Scott, the charity offers vital support to children who have lost a parent while serving in the British Armed Forces. As a veteran of the British Army, Harry regularly supports causes that help veterans and their families.
Scotty’s Little Soldiers Founder, Nikki Scott, said: “To have been personally chosen by Prince Harry and Meghan Markle is an incredible honour for Scotty’s Little Soldiers and we are extremely grateful for the opportunity. Having met Prince Harry at Buckingham Palace last year, I know that the Armed Forces and looking after the children our heroes have left behind is close to his heart.”
StreetGames, where Harry and Meghan had a memorable visit (including a giant group hug!) in January, was also chosen. StreetGames uses sport to change lives across the UK, helping people and communities to become healthier, safer and more successful.
Jane Ashworth OBE, CEO of StreetGames, said: “All of us at StreetGames are absolutely thrilled to have been personally chosen by Prince Harry and Ms. Markle. It’s a great honour to have our work using sport to change lives and communities recognised in this way.”
Also included is Surfers Against Sewage, a national marine conservation and campaigning charity, which inspires, unites and empowers communities to take action to protect oceans, beaches, waves and wildlife.
Hugo Tagholm, Chief Executive of Surfers Against Sewage, said: “Surfers Against Sewage is thrilled to be one of the charities chosen to benefit from donations marking the wedding of Prince Harry and Ms. Meghan Markle. Our work as a national marine conservation charity empowers tens of thousands of volunteers annually to protect beaches for everyone. We are currently focused on tackling plastic pollution and this support will help us move towards our vision of Plastic Free Coastlines.”
Finally, there is The Wilderness Foundation UK, which promotes the benefits and enjoyment of wild nature. Through the great outdoors, the charity helps build resilience in vulnerable teenagers, introduces rural employment to urban youth, and brings science to life.
Jo Roberts, CEO of The Wilderness Foundation UK, said: “We are deeply touched and honoured that Prince Harry and Ms Markle have chosen to support The Wilderness Foundation and its beneficiaries. As the world’s population grows exponentially the planet’s remaining wild places and resources are coming under increasing threat. It has never been more important for us as humans to protect the planet that gives us life. Whilst teaching conservation values, we in turn use the positive power of nature to support and recharge the lives of challenged and vulnerable young people and adults.”