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Opening remarks by Principal Private Secretary Clive Alderton at the Annual Review 2017 press briefing

Published on 26th June 2017

A warm welcome to Clarence House. It's good to see so many familiar faces in the room. I hope I'll have a moment at the end of this briefing to say hello to the one or two people who, looking around, I think I haven't yet met. I hope you had a chance to have some lunch while reading through this year’s Annual Review of the work of The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall. Before we start let me just recall, as I did last year, that this report is different from the Sovereign Grant Review you attended earlier. Our Review is mainly reporting The Prince of Wales's private income which, as you know, comes from The Duchy of Cornwall, but on which The Prince has long chosen to be as open and transparent as possible. This said, like all families, there are some areas which are entirely private so, as usual, I won't be commenting on them. 

You'll all be glad to know that, this year, you won't have to listen to me giving a long presentation. We thought it might be helpful – and perhaps slightly more engaging (but please do give us your honest feedback) – to offer the information as a few words of introduction from me, followed by a short film which shows some of the year's highlights. In case you're wondering, "short" really does mean short: it lasts around 4 minutes. Of course, with 629 engagements in 43 counties of the UK, plus Official Royal Visits to eight overseas countries at the request of Her Majesty's Government, we've had to be highly selective.

It might just be worth offering a word or two of context for the year on which we are reflecting today, running from Spring 2016 to Spring 2017. As the UK defines new types of partnership with our friends inside and outside the European Union, TRH are continuing to work hard – at home and abroad – to protect and enhance our country's interests. As a long-serving Member of HM Diplomatic Service, I sense that personal connections – or what the jargon calls "people-to-people links" - will have an important role to play in defining this new chapter in relations with our friends and neighbours around the world.  Highlighting connections between people, in fields as diverse as business, culture or education, will be vital. For example, you'll know from the Review – and see in a moment in the film – that The Prince of Wales arrived in Romania on the day Article 50 of the EU Lisbon Treaty was triggered, beginning the process for leaving the EU.  The Visit was a valuable opportunity to celebrate with the people of Romania, and subsequently in Italy and Austria, some of the many aspects of the friendship between our peoples; a friendship that will endure.

This year, as always, TRH's work has offered the strongest and most heartfelt support to The Queen in service to the UK and the 15 other countries of which Her Majesty is Sovereign; in acting as a focus for national unity.  It is outside the scope of this Review, and thus something we can talk about more next year if you wish, but the retirement of The Duke of Edinburgh is already seeing all Members of the Royal Family helping to fill the considerable gap that the well-earned easing of Prince Philip's incredible workload will bring. At this week's State Opening of Parliament, we saw The Prince of Wales offering exactly this support to The Queen. 

Before we press "Play" on the film, let me just highlight a few points that  particularly strike me about TRH's work in the year we're reviewing. There is the sheer scope and diversity, ranging from the sort of State occasions that people often say "make us proud to be British", through to work to support our Military, not to mention communities of every Faith and none and of every ethnic origin, helping to bind us all together as a single, united Kingdom. You'll see some specific examples, such as the 40th Anniversary of The Prince’s Trust which has given a hand up to 870,000 of some of our hardest-to-reach young people and, according to a recent independent study, has contributed £1.4billion of value to society in the last 10 years alone.  You'll also see the Duchy organic food range, going from strength to strength in creating jobs and opportunity and now with a record annual turnover of over £200m. I might just pause on that figure: it's another tangible outcome of The Prince's work. We have quoted the amount of money that The Prince's charities have raised to help people needing society's support –£170 million – which is clearly a very significant figure but, as I have been saying, I hope you will not measure TRH's worth by this figure alone. As you would expect, The Prince of Wales remains clearly focused on the Environment  and one detail you'll see in the online report – though not, I think, in the film given the need to keep it short - is that within the Household we are proud that 85% of our energy now comes from renewable sources, including 100% of our electricity.

The Duchess of Cornwall has continued to provide outstanding support to The Prince of Wales, at home and overseas, while also making a hugely valuable contribution on important national issues. You'll see one part of the film highlighting a Care Bag initiative in association with Sexual Assault Referral Centres across the United Kingdom, and hear about the difference The Duchess's work has made. Another major and consistent theme has been literacy. When asked, as part of the Roald Dahl centenary celebrations, what dream she would like captured in a sculpture for public display, HRH replied immediately that her dream was for every child to have the opportunity to discover the wonder of reading. You'll see in the film how that dream materialised in a large Dream Jar in St James's Park last Summer.

Now, having promised to speak only briefly, I have probably already gone on for too long. So let me just end with sincere thanks to you all for coming today and for your continued support in helping us to tell TRHs story: week in, week out; up and down the country and around the world; in fair weather and, well, not so fair weather! In acting as a force for unity, the words and deeds of the whole Royal Family benefit greatly from our partnership with the Media in raising awareness. Thank you, once again, ladies and gentlemen. Now it really is time to press "Play", after which I'll be happy to try to answer any questions you may have.