On behalf of Her Majesty The Queen, Their Royal Highnesses The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall will attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Rwanda. It will be the first Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting that His Royal Highness has attended since being chosen by Commonwealth Heads of Government as the future Head in 2018.
His Royal Highness will use the opportunity to listen and continue to learn about some of the key issues that the countries of the Commonwealth face. During lockdown, The Prince, along with Rwandan President, Paul Kagame, convened meetings of member states in each region of the globe. This was followed up by a face-to-face meeting for Commonwealth leaders at COP26.
The visit to Rwanda will include engagements which demonstrate some of the big challenges and opportunities facing Commonwealth countries and their people: climate change; supporting biodiversity and the regeneration of land; economic development; opportunities for the young; and gender equality.
On Thursday 23rd June, His Royal Highness will focus on Climate, Health and the Private Sector and will meet business owners from across the Commonwealth, host a roundtable with the Sustainable Markets Initiative, Commonwealth leaders and global CEOs, as well as attend the Kigali Summit on Malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases.
The Prince will highlight the critical importance of rejuvenating land with a visit to a local wildlife sanctuary which has reclaimed surrounding wetlands and protected endangered cranes. His Royal Highness will also announce a new partnership to create a “Living Lab”, promoting sustainable agriculture and land management with local communities, linked to similar initiatives across the world.
Sixty percent of Commonwealth citizens are under the age of thirty and in Rwanda the age profile is even lower (the average age is twenty). The Prince will visit one of Rwanda’s Regional Colleges to find out how students are supported in technical and vocational training to boost their potential to gain employment and increase the country’s economic growth. His Royal Highness will also meet some of the beneficiaries from across the Commonwealth of his charity, Prince’s Trust International, which aims to support people into education, training, or employment.
The Duchess of Cornwall’s engagements will reflect her passions, all of which are recognised within the Commonwealth Charter. With the First Lady of Rwanda, Mrs Jeanette Kagame, she will visit a public library. The library is supported by Book Aid International, a charity of which The Duchess recently became Patron, taking it on from The Duke of Edinburgh. The importance of education available to all is recognised under Article 11 of the Commonwealth Charter. The engagement will also highlight The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition (run by the Royal Commonwealth Society, of which Her Royal Highness is Vice Patron) and the growing number of successful Rwandan entries.
Article 12 of the Commonwealth Charter recognises gender equality, which includes basic human rights for women and a recognition of female empowerment. The Duchess has long campaigned for women’s safety, and on the second day Her Royal Highness will attend a Violence Against Women and Girls event where she will give a keynote speech. The event will also be attended by The First Lady and The Secretary General, Baroness Scotland.
This will be the first visit to Rwanda by a Member of The Royal Family, and both Their Royal Highnesses will have an opportunity to reflect on the strength and resilience of the Rwandan people, as well as their commitment to reconciliation and optimism, following the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
On the first day they will visit the Genocide Memorial where they will tour the museum and lay a wreath. The Prince and The Duchess will meet with women from the Village of Hope, an organisation set up after the Genocide to offer shelter to women who had suffered gender-based violence.
In the afternoon, The Prince of Wales will visit a Reconciliation Village where he will meet with both survivors and perpetrators of the Genocide. The Prince will then visit a local church to view a Genocide Memorial.
On the final day of engagements, Their Royal Highness will attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Opening Ceremony at the Kigali Convention Centre with The Prince joining the official photograph with Commonwealth leaders.
Finally, Their Royal Highnesses The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall will host the Commonwealth Heads of Government Dinner.
Recognising the importance of the role of the Commonwealth, The Prince of Wales has said:
“My wife and I much look forward to meeting Commonwealth leaders and, for the first time, being able to visit Rwanda. Over the years, I have learned a great deal from the ideas, concerns and aspirations which people across the Commonwealth have so generously shared. I have been struck, time and again, by how many common threads there are between us. Too many members of the Commonwealth are amongst the world’s most climate-vulnerable countries. As two out of three Commonwealth citizens are under the age of thirty there is a pressing need to find opportunities for our young people. Taking shared responsibility to solve problems like these means the Commonwealth has the potential to make a profound difference in the lives of its citizens – and, in so doing, to be an unparalleled force for good in our world.”