LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Forget speculation about the dress, date and guest list. The buzz around the engagement of Britain’s Prince Harry and U.S. actress Meghan Markle could boost the profile of their charity causes, from HIV/AIDS to gender equality, aid advocates say.
Harry, 33, Queen Elizabeth’s grandson and fifth-in-line to the British throne, and Markle, 36, who stars in the TV legal drama “Suits”, said on Monday that they will marry in May.
Both young celebrities are keen charity supporters. Harry has focused on mental health and helping those with HIV, while Markle held roles with World Vision and U.N. Women, traveling to Rwanda to promote clean water and championing women’s rights.
“They are both great role models for charity,” said a spokesman for Britain’s Comic Relief charity. “They have played ... and will continue to play a really important role helping to make these issues relevant to young people.”
The bride and groom-to-be met last year on a blind date, and made their first public appearance together in September at the Invictus Games in Toronto, a sports event for sick and wounded veterans founded in 2014 by Harry.
While Markle is best known an actress, she has described herself as an activist, humanitarian and feminist, joining the likes of stars from Angelina Jolie to Emma Watson.
Markle has given up her roles with World Vision and U.N. Women to act as patron for the Royal Foundation, set up by Harry and his brother Prince William to support charities, but aid groups urged her to use her elevated fame to engage the public.
“Meghan Markle has already spoken about gender equality and her new role gives her a global platform for her message,” said Roxane Philson, chief marketing officer of the ONE Campaign, co-founded by Irish rocker Bono to end extreme poverty and disease.
“We often see the impact that high profile figures can have in highlighting injustice, shining a spotlight on activists and championing change,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Reporting By Kieran Guilbert, Editing by Katy Migiro. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, property rights, climate change and resilience. Visit news.trust.org