Prince Harry joined friends Barack and Michelle Obama in Chicago earlier this week, at the inaugural summit of the Obama Foundation as a headline speaker.
The Prince has gotten to know the Obamas these last few years, recently sitting with the former President at the Invictus Games and who can forget the epic video he created with his grandmother The Queen, in response to the couple’s own video.
On Tuesday, Harry surprised pupils at Hyde Park Academy in Chicago’s South Side, which is a stone’s throw from the soon-to-be Obama Presidential Centre, with Mrs Obama prior to the summit.
The group didn’t know why they’d gathered in the school library: watch their reaction below.
Watch the moment when Prince Harry and @michelleobama made a surprise visit to Hyde Park Academy in Chicago. The high school is just across the future site of the Obama Presidential Center. As well as chatting to students with Mrs Obama at the high school, HRH later spoke at The Obama Foundation Summit.
The Royal and former First Lady spent time with around 20 students at the school, which serves a large African-American population.
“The warm and wide-ranging conversation, lasting over an hour, covered how the Centre will showcase the South Side of Chicago to the world,” said Kensington Palace in a statement.
It also included talk of the ‘importance of young people staying inspired and hopeful, and the transformative power of students using their voices to change the world’.
Of course, it being Chicago, the youngsters were keen for Harry to try their speciality deep-dish pizza, which he said he had done the night before – although he doesn’t usually eat the food!
“I had pizza last night,” Harry replied. “I don’t even eat pizza anymore, but I had pizza last night.”
“We had deep-dish, and we had thin crust. I promise you, I will make sure I eat Chicago,” he told them.
Michelle Obama told the students: “Been in Washington for a little while, but we’ve come back home. We still have our house here, my mum still lives here.
“All of you kids, you are me.” came her advice.
“I was you. I grew up in the same neighbourhood, so I know what you’re capable of. When you look at me, you should see yourselves.”
Prince Harry added: “I can safely say from my experience, and all the travelling I’ve done, all over the world, speaking to people your age – the younger generation is the cure to all of the problems.
“And what we’ve got to do, is making sure that somehow – of course it’s possible, we’ve got to get it right – is creating a platform for young people to be able to have your voices heard.”
At the summit, Prince Harry spoke about the Full Effect project and his work to provide platforms for young leaders, sharing the stage with a young representative from the Chicago-based mentoring programme, After School Matters, and the Nottingham-based Full Effect. The former army captain has been working with the organisation to provide opportunities and prevent young people from engaging in crime. You can watch the hour-long panel here.
He addressed a crowd of hundreds on Tuesday afternoon, as part of the two-day event. He says his years of military service helped him understand his life of privilege as well as duty.
“We have to listen to the younger generation because they are the cure of some of the world’s biggest problems,” he explained.
Diana, Princess of Wales, was brought up, too; Harry called his mother his “ideal role model” for how she used her platform for charitable and humanitarian causes.
“I think she had a lot in common with everybody but also she certainly listened,” he said. “In a very, very short space of time she was like a vacuum going around, sucking up all the information, all the criticism, all the issues, all the positives and negatives from everybody, then putting her name and her platform toward the bigger issues that had never been talked about.
“In society we suffer from this illusion, or reality, that some problems become so big that nobody wants to get involved. She was the one that changed that. I will always look up to her … everything she did and the way she did it was having an impact, making a difference,” he said.