The Diana Award/YouTube Prince Harry
Prince Harry is remembering his late mother Princess Diana on what would have been her 61st birthday.
The Duke of Sussex, 37, surprised the latest recipients of the Diana Award, a worldwide philanthropy honor named for his mom at a virtual ceremony on Friday. Echoing his brother her, Prince William, who wrote a letter to them earlier in the day, he thanked the 180 young philanthropists for helping “keep her voice her alive” 25 years after her tragic death her.
Prince Harry said in a video address, “Today, we’re reflecting on what would have been my mother’s 61st birthday. And this year is also 25 years since her passing. There isn’t a day during the past two and half decades where I haven’t thought about the mark she left not only on me and my brother, but on all of our lives.”
“I see her legacy in all of you,” he continued. “I see her legacy in a Diana Award community that spans multiple generations. I see her legacy every time I meet with families, young people, and children from all corners of the world. And, I see my mum’s legacy when I look at my own children every day.”
Prince Harry and wife Meghan Markle are parents to 3-year-old son Archie Harrison and 1-year-old daughter Lilibet Diana.
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“This is a special year, and one where I hope we take extra time to not just remember her as she lived, but to reflect on the life she continues to lead through so many, including the young change makers with us today,” Prince Harry said.
“My mother instilled in me, and in all of us, a drive to speak up and fight for a better world. And now, as a husband and a parent, my mother’s voice is even stronger in my life,” he continued. “All of you have helped keep her voice alive by showing the world how each small action counts, how kindness is still valued, and how our world can be better if we choose to make it so.”
“To everybody who is part of this afternoon know that you are already making a difference, and we need you to keep making a difference. Don’t ever give up on the idea that each of you can create lasting and much-needed change, ” Harry said. “And with that, it’s my great pleasure to welcome you all and invite you to meet this year’s amazing young leaders receiving The Diana Award.”
Julian Parker/UK Press via Getty Princess Diana and Prince Harry
A little later, Prince Harry highlighted one of more than 20 American winners: Priya Patel, 17, from New Jersey. She is the founder and director of Peer Responders, which Harry called “a groundbreaking organization with a mission to combat depression and suicide through friendship.” She has started 15 chapters of Peer Responders internationally, the prince pointed out.
She has creating learning courses that hundreds of students and young people have benefited from, helped inspire the next generation of “compassionate young leaders to step in and help those in need,” Prince Harry added.
Patel told the award ceremony of her surprise – “if only 13 year old me could see me now!” — and added the award “means the world to me” to help scale up her organization even further.
In a final appearance, Prince Harry urged young people to continue their inspiring work.
“What if we choose to believe in the idea that one person can change the world? What if we already know that to be possible?” he said. “If you take away one thing from today, please let it be that no matter who you are, or where you’re from, or what your background is, you can create positive change in our world.”
He added, “My mother knew that young people have the power to accomplish anything. And can act beyond their years as the leaders we so desperately need right now.”
“The rest of us — well, we haven’t made it easy for you. We know that our young people face unique challenges to their mental health and wellbeing, increasing social and economic barriers, and a world consumed by disagreement, conflict and anger ,” he said. “But we need to listen to you and empower you. Because you are our only way out of the mess.”
He concluded, “I know the memory I hold of my mum will never fade, because I see her spirit in each of you. So, thank you for keeping her fire alive.”
Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images Prince Harry and Princess Diana
Prince Harry’s support for the Diana Award — the only charity that carries the name of Princess Diana — was preluded with a letter that he sent each of the 180 young philanthropists.
In it, he wrote that the young peoples’ work strengthened their communities and the world. “We are in awe of everything you’ve already accomplished and know you have what it takes to continue developing into the change makers who will shape our collective future. Even as young leaders, your impact is immeasurable, and we need you more than ever !”
“The Diana Award is a special honor and one you’ve worked so hard to earn. As I said while hosting this year’s event, I see my mother’s legacy reflected in this community and its work — in your work. She would be so proud to see what you and your generation are accomplishing. She always understood what young people could do, which is so much especially when given the right support and investment.”
“Never forget you are making the world a better place.”
During the award ceremony that took place virtually on Friday, 180 change makers and young philanthropists honored. They came from 29 countries — including more than 20 winners from the US
The charity said the “exceptional young people” being recognized have demonstrated their ability to mobilize their generation “through campaigning, volunteering, fundraising, fighting injustice or overcoming extreme life challenges.” What they have in common is that “they are changing their communities and the world.”
This August marks another poignant anniversary for the royal brothers: 25 years since Princess Diana following a car crash in Paris on August 31, 1997.
Tessy Ojo CBE, CEO of the Diana Award, congratulated the latest recipients in a statement: “It is especially poignant as we remember Princess Diana 25 years on. We know by receiving this honor they will inspire more young people to get involved in their communities and begin their own journey as active citizens.”
Earlier, Harry’s brother Prince William had written to the young people to add his fulsome praise too. He wrote a special letter to them, saying that Diana would have been “proud” of the work they do for their communities across the world.
Samir Hussein/WireImage Meghan Markle and Prince Harry attending the Service of Thanksgiving for the Queen’s Jubilee on June 3.
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William called them all “an inspiration.” “Congratulations on receiving The Diana Award today! You are part of an inspirational generation of young people who are changing the world through your actions, and I hugely admire your efforts,” he wrote in the letter, which was written on official Kensington Palace stationery carrying his “W” royal cipher.
“I hugely admire your efforts. Your stories are remarkable. Many of you face huge challenges in the face of difficult times, yet you are tirelessly breaking down barriers to create a better future for us all,” he continued.
“You truly are the personification of my mother’s legacy and I know she would be so proud of you all. I believe there’s no better way to celebrate her life and work than through recognizing incredible people who dedicate so much time and effort to helping those around them.”
Dominic Lipinski – WPA Pool/Getty Prince William and Prince Harry
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Last year, the royal brothers unveiled the official statue to their mother in the shadow of Kensington Palace, where she lived until her tragic death in August 1997.