Prince Harry hails a new generation of 'incredible' young leaders

Hannah Furness

Between them, they are fighting mental health stigma, tackling violence against women and quite literally saving lives around the Commonwealth, all in the name of the Queen.

Little wonder that the Duke of Sussex, working with his grandmother for the “incredible” youth of the Family of Nations, is feeling “hugely optimistic” about the future.

The Duke, who will be joined by his new wife the Duchess at a Buckingham Palace reception to honour them, said today's generation holds the key to tackling the world's biggest issues as his grandmother honours them for their quiet, diligent work in their communities.

He told the Sunday Telegraph: “I have really enjoyed meeting so many of them over the past four years, and their passion and understanding always leaves me hugely optimistic about the future."

The Queen’s legacy project, launched five years ago, will see community stars from around the Commonwealth meet Her Majesty at Buckingham Palace to receive words of encouragement about their future.

This year, the Duchess of Sussex will attend the Queen’s Young Leaders reception for the first time, as the newlywed couple embark on their own work to continue the Queen’s lifetime of Commonwealth service.

Leanne Armitage, 23, UK

Among the award winners are a young man who has saved 1,000 lives by setting up an app for emergency response, an Australian tackling toxic masculinity, and a Londoner who grew up in a single-parent family on a council estate and now works to encourage people from her own background into medicine.

“When the Queen tells you you’ve done a good job, that changes everything,” said Rahat Hossain, who set up an app to coordinate the emergency response to disasters in Bangladesh.

Leanne Armitage, 23, who grew up in an area blighted by knife crime and now runs Leanne’s Amazing Medics to encourage others to follow her into medicine, said of being honoured by the Royal family: “In our generation, most young people who are celebrated or have the limelight shone on them are musicians, or doing something popular.

Hauwa Ojeifo, 26, Nigeria

“For us to be doing something important in our communities to improve people’s lives, and be recognised for that and celebrated, it’s really honourable.”

Hunter Johnson, founder of The Man Cave which aims to teach young men about positive relationships and their own mental health, said: “It’s an investment in our future, and that’s very special. “It’s blown the roof off my house of what I thought was possible.

“Young people are often seen as a problem to be solved, and it’s such a flip on the message to have the profile and the platform to get the good news about the Commonwealth out there.

“It’s phenomenal for us, but it’s also giving our generation a platform to say hey, this is the future.”

Hunter Johnson, 27, Australia

Hauwa Ojeifo, who founded She Writes Women and a helpline which has already helped more than 200 women in Nigeria, said: “For me, what I’m taking away is validation and I think we all need that sometimes.

“You’re working so hard, you’re doing so many things, and it’s given me the confidence that I can keep going and do everything I want to do.”

The Duke of Sussex said: "I have seen time and time again, through my work with young people from across the Commonwealth, that today's generation understands something very important: that to tackle a big issue, you need to focus on the root causes of the challenge, not its symptoms.

"The Queen's Young Leaders are having an incredible impact in their respective countries because they have adopted this mindset.”

The Queen at Ascot on Saturday Credit: PA

He and the Duchess will later this year go on their first tour to meet the people of the Commonwealth, to Australia, Fiji, Tonga and New Zealand.

The Duchess, then Meghan Markle, has previously worked with a Queen's Young Leader winner of 2017, Suhani Jalota: founder of the Myna Mahila Foundation, one of the charity's on the couple's wedding gift list.