The Duke of Sussex has used a speech to the United Nations to launch what he called a “global assault on democracy and freedom”.
During a keynote address to mark Nelson Mandela’s International Day, Prince Harry listed the dangers of climate change, the coronavirus pandemic, “gun lies and disinformation”, the war in Ukraine and even alluded to abortion laws in the US, an issue that has been doing so were taboo when he was still a working member of the royal family.
Harrywho has long-standing personal ties to the Mandela family, both personally and through his own family, was asked by the Nelson Mandela Foundation to speak at the event at the United Nations General Assembly.
Observed by his wife Meghan, he said: “This has been a painful year in a painful decade.
“We are living through a pandemic that continues to devastate communities in all parts of the world; climate change is wreaking havoc on our planet, with the most vulnerable suffering the most; the few who arm lies and disinformation at the expense of the many, and from the appalling war in Ukraine to the rolling back of constitutional rights here in the United States.
“We are witnessing a global attack on democracy and freedom – the cause of Mandela’s life.”
In the impassioned speech, the Duke went further than he would have done on previous occasions when representing the Queen and the royal family.
Speaking on the climate crisis and the impact it is having specifically on parts of Africa, he urged world leaders to act with more conviction, saying: “As I speak, our world is on fire again.
“These historical weather events are no longer historical. They are more and more a part of our daily lives, and this crisis will only get worse…unless our leaders lead the way.”
His father repeated his comments across the Atlantic Prince Charles, who said tackling climate change was “absolutely essential” as Britain sweltered with “alarming” temperatures.
Charles also made remarks – at an open-air event to mark his 70th year as Duke of Cornwall – saying national commitments to reach net zero “have never been more important”.
“As I have been trying to show for quite some time, the climate crisis really is a real emergency and it is absolutely necessary to address it.”
The Duke of Sussex in New York addressed his great admiration for Mandela, describing what a photo of his mother’s moment meant to him Princess Diana met the coach South African leader.
He said he still has the picture today.
“On my wall and in my heart every day is a picture of my mother and Mandela who met in Cape Town in 1997.
“The photo was gifted to me by the late Archbishop Desmond Tutu, whose friendship and inspiration was her own precious gift – my wife and I had the honor of introducing him to our four-month-old son in 2019.
“When I first looked at the photo, joy jumped out on my mother’s face; the playfulness, cheekiness, even… sheer joy of being in the company of another soul so dedicated to the service of humanity.
Harry “seeked consolation” after his mother’s death
The Duke continued: “Then I looked at Mandela. Here was a man with the weight of the world on his shoulders, asking to heal his country of the debris of its past and transform it for the future.
“A man who has endured the worst of humanity – vicious racism and state-sponsored brutality. A man who lost 27 years with his children and family he would never get back.”
Harry also reiterated how important Africa has been to him throughout his life and how he “seeked solace” there after the death of his mother.
He said: “It was here that I felt closest to my mother and sought comfort after she passed and where I knew I had found a soul mate in my wife.”
Some of the Sussexes’ critics were surprised that Harry had been asked to address the United Nations General Assembly following the controversy over his decision to leave royal life.
The couple had arrived at the UN event smiling and holding hands, ignoring a question from a US reporter about biographer Tom Bower’s latest book, Revenge: Meghan, Harry and the War Between the Windsors.
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