Harry praises Diana Awards winners as he reunites with William for statue unveiling

Prince made a surprise appearance at the 2021 awards ceremony

29 June 2021 - 10:59 By Khanyisile Ngcobo and Reuters
Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex, has lauded recipients of the 2021 Diana Awards for being an 'invaluable asset' to their communities. File photo.
Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex, has lauded recipients of the 2021 Diana Awards for being an 'invaluable asset' to their communities. File photo.
Image: Chris Jackson/Getty Images

Prince Harry has lauded the recipients of this year’s Diana Awards, saying his mother would be proud of them for living their authentic life “with purpose and compassion for others”.

The Duke of Sussex made a surprise appearance at the awards on Monday.

In his congratulatory speech, shared by award organisers on Instagram, Harry praised the young recipients for being an “invaluable asset” to their communities.

“I’m truly honoured to be celebrating your work, your commitment to change-making and the vital role you’ve taken in representing a new generation of humanitarianism.

“Later this week, my brother and I are recognising what would have been our mum’s 60th birthday. She would be so proud of you all .”

The duke stressed the “great need” for young leadership, especially amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I believe in you, we believe in you and that belief in your own ability to change the world  is what makes you a force to be believed with,” he said.

Harry was speaking days before he and his brother Prince William are set to reunite to attend the unveiling of a statue of their late mother on what would have been her 60th birthday.

For most of their lives, the royal brothers have been close, united by the shared trauma of losing their mother. Diana died aged 36 in a 1997 Paris car crash when William was 15 and Harry 12.

However, since Harry’s 2018 marriage to his American actress wife Meghan Markle, relations between them have soured. An explosive interview the couple gave chat show host Oprah Winfrey in March marked a new low.

In it, Harry, now 36, criticised his father Prince Charles and said William, 39, and the family were trapped. The couple also accused one unnamed royal of making a racist remark about their son Archie.

Biographer Robert Lacey said in April the brothers quarrelled after the funeral of Prince Philip, their grandmother Queen Elizabeth’s husband of more than 70 years, and there was no sign of improvement.

“The conflict between Diana’s two bitterly divided sons does not seem likely to end any time soon,” Lacey wrote in the Daily Mail, adding that friends and family were trying to forge a reconciliation.

This week’s unveiling in London of the statue, which the princes commissioned four years ago to celebrate Diana’s life, provides a rare opportunity for such a rapprochement, with Harry returning from his new home in the US.

“Unless one of them is going to say sorry, and I think that probably has to be Harry, I can’t see this relationship at the moment mending itself,” said royal commentator Penny Junor.

“My understanding is the boys are not speaking to one other, certainly not in the way brothers normally speak,” she said.

Thursday’s statue unveiling in the Sunken Garden at Kensington Palace where Diana lived, and which is now home to William and his family, will be a small event with the princes, Diana’s close family and the sculptor Ian Rank-Broadley among the few attending.

The Daily Telegraph reported that William would take his wife Kate and their three children for a private viewing of the statue before its official unveiling as they will not be present on the day.