Prince Harry in thoughts to be patron of Cadet Forces

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Prince Harry could get the nod to represent New Zealand’s youngest military cadets.

The Duke of Sussex, who recently visited with wife Meghan Markle, is mentioned as being patron of the Cadet Forces.

RNZ has obtained a briefing note to Defence Minister Ron Mark in June, that updates the group’s funding challenges and future.

The Cadet Forces gave teenagers an opportunity to build self confidence and leadership skills in the air, sea, or on the ground.

The note mentioned there were 2616 cadets – many of them male – and that number has been relatively stable in recent years.

It showed the Defence Force funded $3.4million for the cadet group each year, along with about $100,000 from each of the three services.

But there were resource pressures and the cadets had been “doing more, with less” in terms of funding and resources.

Commandant of Cadet Forces, Lieutenant Colonel Grant Morris, said some travel had been cut and courses had been consolidated.

He said it was looking at options for sponsorship – especially ahead of a big national field exercise in January 2020.

“Any large corporates, certainly regional or local businesses that might want to contribute to youth development through our programme,” he said.

Lieutenant Colonel Morris said the new Chief of Defence had indicated he would look at how the Cadet Forces was funded, while Ron Mark was supportive of youth development.

The Cadet Forces don’t have any royal or vice-regal patronage and the briefing note said “an opportunity may exist to formalise a unique relationship with NZCF” and Prince Harry.

However, Lieutenant Colonel Morris said he hadn’t phoned the Duke just yet.

“That’s an opportunity I’m keen to explore – he’s been appointed as the Commonwealth Youth Ambassador – and so that’s a discussion I’ve had with a number of people – I’d be keen to pursue that given his recent visit to New Zealand,” he said.

Prince Harry spent a decade in the military and was the first royal in more than 25 years to serve in a war zone, with two stints in Afghanistan.

Lieutenant Colonel Morris said the Cadet Forces don’t have a plan to target more female members, but said it was on the lookout for more adult volunteers.

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