April 09, 2018
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have named seven charities they have chosen to benefit from financial donations in lieu of wedding gifts.
Many of them are small, little known organisations, including a Bristol-based children’s HIV charity with just four part-time employees and a charity for bereaved Armed Forces children.
The only foreign charity chosen is the Myna Mahila Foundation, which supports women in Mumbai’s urban slums and which Ms Markle visited last year before writing about the experience for Time magazine.
Harry and Meghan ask for donations instead of wedding gifts and name seven charities to benefit
Kensington Palace said the couple, who will wed on May 19, did not have any formal relationships with the seven charities but wanted to chose those which represent a range of issues they are passionate about.
In asking guests and well-wishers to donate money rather than give them presents, the Prince and Ms Markle follow in the footsteps of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, who asked for money to be donated to their own charitable fund, which supported 26 charities of their choice, when they got married, raising more than £1million.
One of the charities chosen by the couple is the Children's HIV Association (CHIVA) which supports more than 1,000 UK children growing up with HIV and their families.
Harry and Meghan ask for donations instead of wedding gifts and name seven charities to benefit
A spokeswoman told the Telegraph: “We only found out a couple of weeks ago that we have been chosen, it’s a huge honour and will make a huge difference to us.
“We are a very small charity so it’s a massive deal.”
She said Prince Harry had been aware of their work since members of their youth committee spoke to him at the International AIDS Conference in Durban in 2016 and that a group had subsequently met him at Kensington Palace.
Another one of the chosen charities is Scotty’s Little Soldiers, inspired by the experience of war widow Nikki Scott, which supports children who have lost a parent while serving in the British Armed Forces.
Mrs Scott, who met the Prince at Buckingham Palace last year, said: “I know that the Armed Forces and looking after the children our heroes have left behind is close to his heart.”
She said to have been personally chosen by the couple was an “incredible honour” and that she was extremely grateful.
The Myna Mahila Foundation is a charity which empowers women in Mumbai by providing them with a trusted network offering professional and personal support.
It focuses on taboos surrounding menstrual hygiene by providing women access to low cost sanitary pads and information.
Ms Markle wrote in Time magazine: "One hundred and thirteen million adolescent girls between the ages of 12-14 in India alone are at risk of dropping out of school because of the stigma surrounding menstrual health.
"Furthermore, with minimal dialogue about menstrual health hygiene either at school or home due to the taboo nature of the subject, many girls believe their bodies are purging evil spirits, or that they are injured once a month; this is a shame-filled reality they quietly endure."
She added: "Young girls’ potential is being squandered because we are too shy to talk about the most natural thing in the world. To that I say: we need to push the conversation, mobilise policy making surrounding menstrual health initiatives, support organizations who foster girls’ education from the ground up, and within our own homes, we need to rise above our puritanical bashfulness when it comes to talking about menstruation."
Suhani Jalota, who founded the organisation in 2015, said: "Myna Mahila Foundation is delighted to be a part of this special occasion for Ms Meghan Markle and Prince Harry.
“This support will enable us to expand our reach into more urban slums in Mumbai, empowering local women through access to menstrual hygiene products and employment opportunities."
Crisis, the national charity for homeless people, also welcomed being chosen by the couple, who will marry at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle.
There has been a furore over the treatment of homeless people in Windsor after Tory councillor Simon Dudley called on police to clear rough sleepers from the town before the event.
Harry and Meghan ask for donations instead of wedding gifts and name seven charities to benefit
Jon Sparkes, chief executive of Crisis, said: "We are hugely grateful that Prince Harry and Ms Markle are asking the public to support Crisis as they celebrate their wedding.
"Homelessness is one of the most urgent issues of our time, but at Crisis we know what it takes to end it.
"Donations will help us to support more people to leave homelessness behind through our housing, employment, education and advice services across the country, and to campaign for the changes needed to solve the homelessness crisis once and for all."
The other three charities chosen by the couple are StreetGames, which uses sport to change young people’s lives, Surfers Against Sewage, a national marine conservation and campaigning charity currently focused on tackling plastic pollution and The Wilderness Foundation UK, which promotes the benefits and enjoyment of wild nature.
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