Harry highlights Diana’s faith in young people ahead of statue unveiling

The Duke of Sussex has spoken movingly about his mother’s belief in the power of young people to “change the world” ahead of the unveiling of Diana’s statue.

Harry said the Princess of Wales would have been “proud” of more than 300 recipients of the Diana Award during a virtual ceremony recognising the achievements of the nine to 25-year-olds from across the world.

The duke paid tribute to the young leaders for “inspiring us with your brilliance, your determination and your compassion” and said he was preparing to mark what would have been his mother’s 60th birthday on Thursday.

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In a pre-recorded message, the duke told the online audience: “Never be afraid to do what’s right. Stand up for what you believe in and trust that when you live by truth and in service to others, people will see that just as they did with my mum.”

Harry is quarantining at his Frogmore Cottage home ahead of the unveiling of the statue commissioned by Diana’s sons to honour their mother’s legacy, a ceremony being staged on Thursday and attended by a handful of people including Diana’s close family.

The duke said: “Later this week, my brother and I are recognising what would have been our mum’s 60th birthday, and she 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.

Diana inquest
The Diana Award was established to honour the princess’ legacy (John Stillwell/PA)

“And 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 centre of our future – and this has never been more important.”

The Diana Award was set up in memory of Diana, Princess of Wales, and her faith in the next generation to change the world for the better.

The charity, which runs antibullying and mentoring programmes, is unique as it also rewards young people who carry out inspiring work without expectation of reward.

Each year thousands of young people are nominated by individuals and their communities to highlight these selfless acts.

Harry highlighted the need for “young leadership” and urged the award winners to continue with their “life-changing impact”.

Royalty – Princess of Wales Funeral – Westminster Abbey, London
William and Harry with their father Charles on the day of Diana’s funeral (Adam Butler/PA)

He said: “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.

“To all the 2021 Diana Award recipients thank you for inspiring us with your brilliance, your determination and your compassion, your actions hold the potential to leave a life changing impact.

“You are putting the ‘do’s’ behind the ‘say’s’, and this is the personification of our mother’s legacy.”

Harry and Meghan last year launched their charitable foundation Archewell with the goal to “build a better world” and the non-profit body is championing racial justice, gender equity, climate change, mental health, online hate speech and empowering diverse voices.

The duke told his online audience: “And Meg and I fundamentally believe that our world is at the cusp of change, real change for the good of all.

“But the question before us is what that change will look like.

“The Covid-19 crisis exposed severe inequities and imbalances around the world. We saw the disproportionate effect of this pandemic on communities of colour, on women, on underserved communities and on less wealthy countries.

“We’ve seen and unless we take swift action, we will continue to see a disparity in our humanitarian and moral obligation to vaccinate the world.”