A speech delivered by The Duke of Sussex at The Diana Award National Youth Mentoring Summit
Thank you. It really is a pleasure to be here this afternoon and feel the inspiration percolating in this room – it’s the quintessential combination of enthusiasm and optimism, something that we can all feel when surrounded by empowered youth.
I’m struck by a few things today, most of which is the power of the invisible role model. The person who may be sitting here today that doesn’t realise that someone looks up to them, that – for that person – you inspire them to be kinder, better, greater, more successful, more impactful.
Perhaps it’s the newfound clarity I have as a father knowing that my son will always be watching what I do, mimicking my behaviour, one day maybe even following in my footsteps.
But it’s not just my role as a father that shows me that; it’s in the people I see every day that don’t realise how inspirational they are to those watching.
From small acts of kindness, to large measures of character – each move that we make matters, especially when we don’t think anyone is watching. That is when our true character comes to light.
To that I say be visible. Own it. Take seriously the responsibility we have to lead by example, and do that, by the values you reflect and the way you move in the world. It doesn’t require much – it’s about who you are as opposed to what you do.
As a human being rather than a human doing. Because when we are being we are able to acknowledge and feel our own internal state, who we are, and rediscover the things that matter most.
My mother, Princess Diana, was a role model to so many, without realising the impact she would have on so many lives. You don’t have to be a princess or a public figure to be a role model, in fact it’s equally valuable if you’re not because it’s more relatable.
Being a role model and mentor can help heal the wounds of your own past and create a better future for someone else.
As proven by today’s inspirational youth, and many of the stories we’ve heard this afternoon, the impact of a mentor has the power to make society richer, happier, kinder and more aligned.
On a more personal level, it’s the power to change the course of a life, to be the North Star for a young person having trouble navigating their own path.
Sometimes it’s a school teacher, but we know how overworked they are. They don’t always have the capacity and they are figures of authority. What we need is relatable people to collaborate and guide us — mentors.
I have visited thousands of community centres, sports clubs, and youth zones over the years – and I have witnessed first-hand the alchemy that occurs when two people are in sync and mutually benefitting each other.
That is why I am urging businesses and organisations to pledge their commitment to mentoring, to shift the scale of social mobility for generations to come and unlock a resource which can transform society.
I encourage each of you to see the value you bring to those around you, and to make a conscious effort to not inspire quietly and invisibly, but rather to step up to the task and help someone shine their light even brighter.
To the mentees here today, I am incredibly proud of what you’ve achieved, and I can safely say that my mother, who would have turned 58 yesterday, would feel the same.
Video credit: The Royal Family Channel