Prince Harry became the first member of the royal family to publicly mark the one-year anniversary of the death of his late grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, paying tribute to her in an assured speech on Thursday evening.
Speaking as part of a high-profile appearance at a London charity gala, the WellChild Awards ceremony, Harry said: “As you know, I was unable to attend the awards last year as my grandmother passed away. As you also probably know, she would have been the first person to insist I still come to be with you all instead of going to her, and that’s precisely why I know, exactly one year on, she is looking down on all of us tonight, happy we are together, continuing to spotlight such an incredible community.”
"She would've been the first person to insist that I still come to be with you all instead of going to her." Prince Harry honours his late grandmother Queen Elizabeth one year on from her passing. Full story here: https://t.co/sYCLyZIKHb pic.twitter.com/4aKNQywjnD
— HELLO! (@hellomag) September 7, 2023
Hello! magazine, the official media partners for the event, reported that Harry told one family how his wife Meghan Markle was “very upset that she couldn’t be here” ahead of a “busy week” for the couple.
Harry’s thoughtful remarks came just hours before his father, King Charles, was expected to make an official statement honoring his late mother, who died a year ago Friday. Palace insiders are likely to be relieved that the brief remarks will be unlikely to overshadow the king’s own statement.
Harry, did, however, look emotional as he paid tribute to his grandmother during his speech, which he made after presenting the “Inspirational Child” award to one of the winners, Violet Seymour, 6, who was born with a brain condition and has spent much of her life in hospital undergoing multiple procedures.
Harry had finally broken cover in London Thursday afternoon, arriving at the WellChild ceremony at the Hurlingham Club shortly after 5 p.m. local time.
It marked his first return to British soil since a series of court appearances over the summer.
Although the offices of both Prince William and Charles had let it be known that their principals would not be meeting Harry, William’s team made sure the message was rammed home after he made a public appearance at a homeless shelter more than 100 miles from London during the day.
Harry has been a patron of WellChild for over a decade, and it was one of the few patronages he hung on to after he and his wife left the royal family in 2020.
By an accident of timing, today’s ceremony falls on the eve of the anniversary of the queen’s death. Last year, Harry had to cancel his appearance there after he raced to Scotland when his grandmother died.
Relations between Harry and other members of the royal family are at rock bottom, and sources have repeatedly told The Daily Beast that Harry is not going to meet with Charles or William during the trip, despite an expectation that he will be in the U.K. all day tomorrow, the anniversary of the queen’s death, before traveling to Dusseldorf, Germany, for the launch of the Invictus Games.
Some other members of the family are understood to be gathering at Balmoral, where Elizabeth died last year, while the only official royal engagement tomorrow is being carried out by William and Kate in Wales.
Harry also referred to his own family during his speech, raising a laugh by saying: “As a father of two, and three dogs, so basically five souls, I’m acutely aware of the many joys and challenges that come with parenting. And that’s with kids who aren’t facing health challenges. So to the parent carers in the room, you have my sincerest admiration and respect.”