Prince Harry made a surprise appearance during the 2021 Diana Awards. The Duke of Sussex – who arrived in the U.K. on Friday for the July 1 unveiling of a statue dedicated to his mother – appeared via a video recording to applaud the young recipients of the awards, which are named after he and Prince William's late mother Princess Diana and honors young people for their social action and humanitarian work.
In a video message played during the virtual ceremony on Monday, Harry celebrated "the incredible young people" receiving the awards and thanked them for being "such an invaluable asset" to their communities. Harry said he was "honored to be celebrating your work, your commitment to change making and the vital role that you've taken on representing a new generation of humanitarianism." In his address, the Duke of Sussex noted that later in the week, he and his brother will recognize what would have been their mother's 60th birthday, and he said the late princes "would be so proud of you all for living authentic life with purpose and with compassion for others."
"Our mum believed that young people have the power to change the world. She believed in your strength because she saw it day in and day out and in the faces of young people exactly like you, she witnessed a boundless enthusiasm and passion," he said. "I, too, see those same values shine through. As it has done for 21 years now, The Diana Award carries her legacy forward by putting young people at the center of our future and this has never been more important."
Harry went on to state that he and wife Meghan Markle "fundamentally believe that our world is at the cusp of change, real change for the good of all. The question before us is what that change will look like." He noted that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has "exposed severe inequities and imbalances around the world," adding that "there is great need for young leadership and there is no greater time to be a young leader. I believe in you. We believe in you. And that belief in your own ability to change the world in doing the right thing is what makes you a force to be reckoned with."
As Harry said, his video appearance came as he prepares to honor his late mother in another way. On July 1, Harry is set to reunite with his older brother for the unveiling of a Princess Diana statue on the grounds of Kensington Palace. The ceremony will commemorate "the twentieth anniversary of her death and recognize her positive impact in the UK and around the world." Diana passed away in 1997.