The Prince of Wales has said promoting greater inclusion and diversity has always been a subject “close to my heart”, and he has tried to support it for “much of my life”.
Heir to the throne Charles was visiting Homerton College at Cambridge University.
He joined a discussion in the Griffin Bar on Get In Cambridge and other initiatives aimed at encouraging diversity in admissions and supporting ethnic minority students during their time at the university.
In March, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, in a bombshell interview with US talk show host Oprah Winfrey, accused an unnamed member of the royal family of making a racist remark about their son, Archie, before he was born.
The broadcast, in which Harry and Meghan also accused the monarchy of failing to support the duchess when she had suicidal thoughts, plunged the Windsors into crisis.
In the aftermath, the Duke of Cambridge defended the monarchy against accusations of racism, saying: “We’re very much not a racist family.”
The Queen said in a statement that the issues raised, particularly that of race, were concerning.
But she added that “some recollections may vary” and, although the matter was taken very seriously, it would be addressed by the family privately.
Charles, who was met by the college’s principal, Lord Woolley, said: “I could not be more pleased to hear about the excellent work being carried out to promote greater inclusion and diversity.
“As Lord Woolley knows, this is a subject which has always been close to my heart, and which I have sought to take forward, and to support, as much as possible much of my life.”
He added: “For our society to meet successfully the huge challenges before us, we will need all our talents and all our contributions.
“That is not simply a good intention – it is the most profound good sense.
“I have said before that our diversity is our greatest strength, and I become ever more convinced of that truth as time goes by and as I see fresh examples of that principle – as I do so clearly here today.”
The prince held a private meeting with Lord Woolley, who is also an equalities campaigner and the founder of Operation Black Vote.
He became the first black man to lead a college at Cambridge or Oxford after taking up his post last month.
He previously collaborated with the Prince’s Trust on addressing disadvantage among ethnic minority groups.
Later, Charles officially opened AstraZeneca’s new £1 billion research facility.
The Discovery Centre, which will accommodate more than 2,200 scientists, is located within the Cambridge Biomedical Campus.
Charles met Pascal Soriot, chief executive of the Anglo-Swedish drugs company, and was taken on a walking tour of the centre and spoke to scientists in a lab.
He was told how the firm has supplied more than two billion doses of its Covid-19 vaccine.
In a courtyard in the centre of the disc-shaped building, the prince said in an address that the centre would save the lives of millions of people in the future, and he praised the dedication of the AstraZeneca team.
“I must say it has been absolutely fascinating to see at least some of the work that takes place inside this centre and to think that – supported by interactions across the city and beyond – it will ultimately enhance and save the lives of untold millions of people around the world in the years and decades to come,” Charles said.
“Throughout the pandemic, I have greatly admired the dedicated commitment of Pascal and the entire AstraZeneca team.
“You have developed and delivered a vaccine for the world – in a remarkably short timescale – which will continue to have a positive impact on communities and society for years to come.
“You have demonstrated, together with your partners, the power of collaboration, of agility and, ultimately, of science itself. And, what is more, you have done it all on a not-for-profit basis.”
He earlier visited Cambridge’s outdoor market, taking time to speak to stallholders and shaking the hands of some of the hundreds of people who came to see him, from behind barriers which circled the market during his visit.
The prince also joked with the gathered crowds, telling them “are you not meant to be at lectures?”