Here is Meghan Markel’s speech at One Young World Summit 2022

This year’s One Young World Summit opened on Monday in Manchester to meet with delegates and leaders from all over the world until Thursday.

Hundreds of participants listened to Meghan Markle, now The Duchess of Sussex, deliver the keynote address before starting a long schedule of workshops and activities.

“We’re proud to be able to host so many inspiring and creative minds from all over the world, providing them with a platform and ensuring their voices are heard. Our Summit provides the knowledge, skills, network and platform for young leaders to affect meaningful and impactful change,” Ella Robertson McKay, One Young World’s managing director, said in a statement.

Read the transcript of The Duchess of Sussex’s speech:

Britain’s Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex attend the One Young World 2022 Manchester Summit at Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, England, Monday Sept. 5, 2022. (AP Photo/Jon Super) (Jon Super/)

Well good evening everyone. It is very nice to be back in the U.K., and it is very nice to be back with all of you at One Young World.

As you’ll likely hear many times this week, as we just heard you’ll hear all sorts of things, some very heavy, some very uplifting, but the resounding spirit I believe you will hear is that you are the future. But I would like to add to that, that you are also the present.

You are the ones driving the positive and necessary change needed across the globe now, at this very moment, and for that, I am so grateful to be in your company today.

It was several years ago in 2014 that I was first invited to be a counselor at One Young World and in many ways at the time I was probably a lot like each of you; young, ambitious, advocating for the things that I deeply and profoundly believed in. And also, looking around and wondering, “How on earth did I get here?”

Have any of you today so far had that feeling, that pinch me moment where you just go, “How am I here?” It’s a lot and at that dinner, there were about 20 to 30 of us for the counselors and there I was, the girl from “Suits,” and I was surrounded by world leaders, humanitarians, prime ministers, and activists that I have such a deep and long-standing respect and admiration for — and I was invited to pull up a seat at the table.

I was so overwhelmed by this experience, I think I even saved my little paper place card that said my name on it. Just proof that I was there, proof that I belonged. Because the truth was I wasn’t sure that I belonged. I was so nervous. I doubted myself and I wondered if I was good enough to even be there and what I was doing in the world, albeit important and meaningful as far as I saw it, was it deserving to have a seat at this table?

But One Young World saw in me what I wanted to see fully in myself. They saw in me, just as I see in you, the present and the future and I reiterate that point because oftentimes we speak to young adults about the years ahead, about what you’ll do, what you’ll have to adopt, to fix from previous generations, and also what legacy you will leave. But too often in that, we neglect the point that you’re doing it now. You here, in this present moment, this is where it’s all beginning.

The first year I joined the delegation in Dublin I worked with a young woman from Eritrea, and she described how she had escaped her home country, fleeing with bullets fired above her head. I still remember it so well. I remember my shock but I also remember her courage. My recognition of how much continues to go on each day with so many turning a blind eye and yet despite all odds she, like so many, still persevered.

I followed up on that trip as David mentioned joining the delegation again in 2016 in Ottawa. I was very lucky to receive a day off filming specifically to take a quick flight from Toronto up to Ottawa and be able to join this work again for One Young World, being with some people I admire most including the former president of Ireland Mary Robinson who you heard from earlier.

I joined you in London in 2019 and by that point, it’s fair to say, my life had changed rather significantly. I was now married and I was now a mom.

My worldview had expanded exponentially seeing the global community through the eyes of my child and I would ask, “What is this world he would come to adopt?” and “What can we do, what can I do to make it better?”

I am thrilled that my husband is able to join me here this time. To be able to see and witness firsthand my respect for this organization, this incredible organization, and all that it provides as well as accomplishes.

Britain’s Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex attend the One Young World 2022 Manchester Summit at Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, England, Monday Sept. 5, 2022. (AP Photo/Jon Super) (Jon Super/)

One Young World has been an integral part of my life for so many years before I met him. So, to meet again here on U.K. soil with him by my side makes it all feel full circle. And, just as a sidebar, earlier this afternoon we sat down with a few of you delegates and it was incredibly inspiring; the resounding themes that came up about representation, about inclusion, about access and about trying to shift the global perspective for all of us as a global community to one of curiosity over criticism.

My husband has long advocated for an important and necessary impact in the world focusing a huge part of his life’s work on the youth. So for both of us, bearing witness to the power that you hold in your hands and the unbridled enthusiasm and energy that you have to see things come to fruition, is just an absolute privilege.

I am incredibly humbled to not just stand before each of you but to stand beside you. We often hear people say, “The time is now!” But I’m going to double down on that by saying, “Your time is now!”

The important work can’t wait for tomorrow and this week the world is watching as you cement your place in history by showcasing the good that you are doing today, in the present moment, as we embrace the moment of now to create a better tomorrow.

And with that, it is my absolute honor and pleasure to declare this year’s One Young World summit officially open.

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