Last July, Prince Harry and Prince William honored what would have been Princess Diana’s 60th birthday together in a Kensington Palace ceremony unveiling a statue of the last princess. On Friday, they each paid homage to their mother and her charitable legacy separately. In a letter to the winners of the Diana Award, William said they were the “personification” of her legacy, while Harry recorded an emotional video message that was shared as a part of the award’s virtual ceremony.
“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,” 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.”
In the letter, which was printed on Kensington Palace letterhead, William praised the winners for overcoming barriers on their road to charitable success. “Thank you for your compassion, bravery and absolute determination,” it read. “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.”
Awards in Diana’s memory were first handed out in 1999, but in 2007, they were relaunched as a charity and rebranded as the Diana Award. The awards aim to honor people around the world between the ages of nine and 25 who have worked to create change in their communities. Both Harry and William have been present at ceremonies and other events since they were launched.
This year, awards were given to 180 recipients, including 20 in the United States, and the virtual ceremony spotlighted young activists who campaigned for animal rights, founded tutoring programs to address learning loss during the pandemic, and worked to address food insecurity.
In a statement, the charity’s chief executive Tessy Ojo explained the award’s importance. “These young people demonstrate that young people have the power to change the world; a belief also held by Princess Diana,” she said. “It is especially poignant as we remember Princess Diana twenty-five years on. We know by receiving this honor they will inspire more young people to get involved in their communities and begin their own changemaking journey.”
This August will mark 25 years since Diana’s death at the age of 36 in a Paris car accident. Though the brothers collaborated on the statue in their honor last year, their relationship is still reportedly strained and Harry did not return for a second ceremony for the palace staff held last October. The brothers were both in attendance at the Platinum Jubilee service of thanksgiving for Queen Elizabeth at St. Paul’s Cathedral last month, but they did not interact during the event.
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