The Duchess of Sussex’s support for the Commonwealth, a central plank of her royal role since her wedding, has taken centre stage in the list of patronages announced as 2019 gets under way. Meghan is now the patron of the Association of Commonwealth Universities.
The ACU was set up in 1913, making it the first international university network in the world. Over a century on, it has over 500 member institutions in more than 50 countries. The Queen became its patron in 1986 and now passes that role on to the Duchess of Sussex.
The ACU’s work includes expanding opportunities in education, supporting research and managing international scholarship schemes as well as working with universities on policy changes in areas such as gender and equity.
Among its core aims, the ACU focuses on the importance of education as a positive tool in the Commonwealth and across the rest of the world and supports the value of higher education to society. As the Duchess’ new role with the organisation was confirmed, the Royal Household underlined Meghan’s commitment to accessible education for everybody.
Meghan has already shown her support for the organisation. Late last year it was revealed that the Duchess of Sussex attended an ACU meeting where she discussed issues including the role of higher education in tackling climate change. During her visit to Fiji in the autumn of 2018, Meghan also announced two new ACU grants to fund initiatives focused on empowering female university staff and promoting gender equality.
The Chief Executive and Secretary General of the ACU, Dr Joanna Newman, said ‘’the Duchess shares our passion for the transformational power of higher education and Her Royal Highness’ support will help champion higher education as a force for good in the Commonwealth and beyond’’. Dr Newman also paid tribute to the Queen and thanked her for her support for the organisation.