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Prince of Wales HANGOUT

HRH The Prince of Wales appeared in an extraordinary Google+ Hangout today to celebrate the first anniversary of Step Up To Serve and the #iwill campaign.

#iwill aims to make social action (such as volunteering, fundraising & campaigning) the norm for all 10-20 year olds in the UK by 2020.

Hosted by the beautiful, poised and articulate Alex Jones from the BBC’s One Show, the 30-minute Google+ Hangout gave The Prince of Wales an opportunity to talk publicly with a group of remarkable young people about their experiences of social action, with a focus on how they use technology to help others.

Joining Prince Charles and Ms. Jones at his home, Clarence House, were young #iwill ambassador George Fielding, BEM, Helen Davies, Live Chat Moderator for YouthNet, Jacob Boyzile from the Army Cadets and Ronan Dunne, Chief Executive of O2. The four young people who joined via the web from around the UK were Jordan Caldwell from Northern Ireland, Hannah Palmer-Davis from the Isle of Wight, Devan Witter from Yorkshire and Sarah Shaikh from Surrey.

HRH Embraces Technology, Marvels at Hangouts

Each of the Hangout guests – the youngest of whom is 14 – have significant achievements helping other young people, despite hurdles they’ve faced themselves.

I was struck by HRH’s warmth and engagement with each young guest. He asked each one what inspired them and each told an eloquent story.

Since launching, Step Up To Serve and #iwill has helped secure significant new funding for youth social action, as well as support from over 100 business, education, faith and voluntary sector organizations. You can find the campaign partners and their pledges here.

Some technical difficulties

The Hangout, the first ever for The Prince of Wales – who said he’d be doing many more – had some technical difficulties at the start, and didn’t get going until six minutes, 30 seconds. There clearly had been much preparation, but inexperience with the Hangouts platform was apparent.

They tried, and failed, for example, to use the Showcase app, which would have allowed them to include links to the websites being discussed, and to let people sign up for the Step Up to Serve program or offer sponsorship.

Hangouts are a new technology. They do have a learning curve. I am 100% certain that the next Hangout of HRH will smooth out the rough spots.

In some ways, the early Hangouts that have begun to be produced by major players (like Tiffany, Warner Brothers, United Airlines and others) are reminiscent of the early days of live television, where mistakes could, and did happen. Nonetheless, the issues are surmountable and this event is a great example of the Hangout platform’s potential.

The HRH Hangout was a sharp contrast to a perfectly horrible Google Apps for Work Hangout that ran yesterday. It appeared that Google doesn’t know how to use its own software, but that’s a story for another post.