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Here’s why Prince Harry gave Mandela Day speech at the UN

Foundation weighs in after duke created a stir for his selection as speaker

21 July 2022 - 12:56
Prince Harry addressed the UN general assembly to celebrate Nelson Mandela International Day on Monday.
Prince Harry addressed the UN general assembly to celebrate Nelson Mandela International Day on Monday.
Image: Eduardo Munoz/Reuters

The Nelson Mandela Foundation has cleared the air on why the Duke of Sussex, Prince Harry, addressed the UN on Nelson Mandela International Day on Monday.

Harry created a buzz, and raised some eyebrows, last week when it was announced he would address an informal sitting of the UN general assembly on the late statesman's birthday.

The duke and his wife, Meghan, descended on New York on Monday for the address, creating a buzz and receiving warm praise on social media. Harry spoke out on climate change, Russia's invasion of Ukraine and the reversal of constitutional rights in the US, among other issues.

While the duke's speech was met with praise from fans across the globe some questioned his selection.

Now the foundation's Verne Harris has offered an explanation for selecting the prince to speak on the special occasion.

“As we do every year, the UN has this event on Madiba's birthday and the SA ambassador to the UN will consult with us and ask for suggestions on speakers.

“And so, this year because we are working on a Madiba-related project with the prince and the duchess, it was sent through as a proposal [to] consider inviting them ... it was [then] decided that the prince would give that speech,” he told Lifestyle.

Harris also touched on the project between the foundation and the royal couple, reportedly through their Archewell foundation, saying that he couldn't share details on it as it was due to be unveiled publicly later on in the year. He did, however, confirm that it has been under way “for some time”.

“Well, it's more than a year ... it falls within the leadership development space at the foundation,” he said.


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