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Royal Wedding: What do Prince Harry and Meghan Markle really think about LGBT rights?

Josh Jackman May 17, 2018
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - MARCH 23: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle depart from Catalyst Inc, Northern Ireland?s next generation science park on March 23, 2018 in Belfast, Nothern Ireland. (Photo by Chris Jackson - Pool/Getty Images)

(Chris Jackson/Pool/Getty)

Prince Harry will marry Meghan Markle on May 19, in a royal wedding which hundreds of millions – if not billions – expected to watch.

And though this is a prime example of a privileged straight wedding, the influence which the British royal and American actress and humanitarian activist have is prodigious.

Related: Royal Wedding guest list: LGBT+ guests and queer icons who might attend Harry and Meghan’s big day

BATH, ENGLAND - APRIL 06: Meghan Markle and Prince Harry, Patron of the Invictus Games Foundation attend the UK Team Trials for the Invictus Games Sydney 2018 at the University of Bath Sports Training Village on April 6, 2018 in Bath, England. The Invictus Games Sydney 2018 will take place from 20-27th October and will see over 500 competitors from 18 nations compete in 11 adaptive sports. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
(Chris Jackson/Getty)

It is therefore worth considering what positions the soon-to-be-newlyweds have on LGBT issues, and whether they might even help create positive changes.

Prince Harry, the youngest of Prince Charles’ children and sixth in line for the throne, has come a long way since his days of being branded a party boy.

The prince is said to have joked that he was “a gay icon” in 2008 while taking part in military training in 2008 – but with every action he takes to promote LGBT issues, he makes this moniker sound less fanciful.

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 25: Meghan Markle and Prince Harry attend an Anzac Day service at Westminster Abbey on April 25, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Eddie Mulholland - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
(Eddie Mulholland/Getty)

In April, he attended the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, telling young LGBT activists that change was in the air.

The new Commonwealth youth ambassador reportedly told the advocates that it was “amazing, because five to 10 years ago, we wouldn’t be having these conversations, and you guys would’ve been going against the tide.

“And now, here you are – the tide is changing, and this is a sign of it.”

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - APRIL 18: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle speak with delegates from the Commonwealth Youth Forum at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting on April 18, 2018 in London, United Kingdom (Photo by Yui Mok - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
(Yui Mok/Getty)

The prince also told them that it was “time for us all to acknowledge that your inclusion and protecting everyone’s rights – including LGBTI rights – benefits everyone.”

In a world in which a billion people still live under anti-gay laws in the Commonwealth, this was important.

If he continues to fight for progress, he could be a priceless asset in the continuous push for equality in the 36 Commonwealth countries which continue to criminalise same-sex acts, primarily under laws imposed during the British Colonial era.

Britain's Prince Harry (R) and his fiancee, US actress Meghan Markle, attend a reception with delegates from the Commonwealth Youth Forum in central London on April 18, 2017, on the sidelines of the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting (CHOGM). / AFP PHOTO / POOL / Yui Mok (Photo credit should read YUI MOK/AFP/Getty Images)
(YUI MOK/AFP/Getty)

And particularly over the past year, the 33-year-old royal has taken steps to cement the impression that he will value LGBT issues.

His first official engagement alongside Markle was a visit to HIV charity Terrence Higgins Trust, where he met with people living with HIV.

And in February, the prince met with players from one of the UK’s biggest gay rugby clubs.

Prince Harry whispers to Meghan Markle as they watch a dance performance by Jukebox Collective in the banqueting hall during a visit to Cardiff Castle on January 18, 2018 in Cardiff, Wales. (Photo by Ben Birchall - WPA Pool / Getty Images)
(Ben Birchall/Getty)

As part of his role as Patron of England Rugby, the royal met Manchester Village Spartans players at Twickenham Stadium, as part of the Try For Change campaign.

In October, he appeared at the Attitude Awards to collect a posthumous honour on behalf of his mother, Princess Diana.

The prince has followed in his mother’s footsteps by campaigning on HIV/AIDS issues, and has also praised the “amazing” work of a transgender children’s charity.

BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - MARCH 23: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle during a visit to Catalyst Inc science park in Belfast where they met some of Northern Ireland's brightest young entrepreneurs on March 23, 2018 in Belfast, Nothern Ireland. (Photo by Niall Carson - Pool/Getty Images)
(Niall Carson/Getty)

He has adopted HIV as one of his key campaigning issues, visiting a number of HIV clinics, attending the International AIDS Conference in South Africa and speaking about his late mother’s work on the issue.

In 2016, the Prince made headlines by taking an HIV test on Facebook Live, as part of an appeal for more people to get tested.

And his passion on the subject was evident when he and Markle’s encouragement for wedding well-wishers to donate to an HIV charity in their name rather than send presents.

<> at on July 14, 2016 in London, England.

The charity selected was CHIVA, the Children’s HIV Association, which “supports children growing up with HIV and their families across the UK and Ireland.”

Markle, 36, has long been a voice for humanitarian issues, especially when it comes to gender equality.

NOTTINGHAM, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 01: Prince Harry and his fiancee US actress Meghan Markle visit the Terrence Higgins Trust World AIDS Day charity fair at Nottingham Contemporary on December 1, 2017 in Nottingham, England. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle announced their engagement on Monday 27th November 2017 and will marry at St George's Chapel, Windsor in May 2018. (Photo by Adrian Dennis - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
(Adrian Dennis/Getty)

She spoke on the issue at UN Women in 2015, and has been campaigning on the issue ever since she was 11 and appeared on Nickelodeon to protest a sexist advert.

Speaking alongside the prince at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, she told the young activists: “This is a basic human rights issue, not one about sexuality.”

From the looks of it, the royal couple will continue to proudly promote LGBT issues and speak out whenever possible.

More: commonwealth, Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, HIV, HIV/AIDS, meghan markle, prince harry, Royal wedding, Royal Wedding

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