Prince Harry breaks silence on Black Lives Matter movement during speech at Diana Awards

At a virtual ceremony for the memorial award for late Princess Diana, Prince Harry apologized for the society's endemic racism. Adding that "I, too, am sorry that we haven't got the world to the place that you deserve it to be."

Prince Harry addressed the Black Lives Matter movement and institutional racism during a virtual speech at the Diana Awards on Wednesday.

Harry typically speaks to Diana Award winners at the event every year, but given the coronavirus pandemic, he was forced to do so virtually this year. The awards honour young people who give back to their communities and follow in his late mother Princess Diana‘s charitable footsteps.

On July 1, which would have been Princess Diana’s 59th birthday, Harry released a video on the organization’s Twitter account to commemorate the day and use his platform for good.

“I am so incredibly proud to be part of these awards, as they honour the legacy of my mother and bring out the very best in people like you,” the duke says in the video. “You are all doing such incredible work and, at a time of great uncertainty, you have found the power and inspiration inside of you to make a positive mark on the world. And I love that the Diana Award is able to help you do it.

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“I know that my mother has been an inspiration to many of you, and I can assure you she would have been fighting in your corner. Like many of you, she never took the easy route or the popular one or the comfortable one,” he continued. “But she stood for something, and she stood up for people who needed it.”

He then spoke to the Black Lives Matter movement, describing “situations around the world where division, isolation and anger are dominating as pain and trauma come to the surface.”

“My wife said recently that our generation and the ones before us haven’t done enough to right the wrongs of the past,” he said. “I, too, am sorry. Sorry that we haven’t got the world to a place you deserve it to be,” he said. “Institutional racism has no place in our societies, yet it is still endemic. Unconscious bias must be acknowledged without blame to create a better world for all of you.

“Now is the time, and we know that you can do it,” Harry concluded.

The duke and his wife, Meghan Markle, have always made an effort to be vocal about causes important to them, both as senior members of the Royal Family and not.

In June, Markle delivered an emotional speech to her former Los Angeles high school about the death of George Floyd.

Markle surprised Immaculate Heart High School’s graduating class with a moving message about race relations in the U.S., specifically regarding the May 25 death of Floyd, 46, who died after he was pinned down by a white police officer who held a knee on his neck for several minutes.

The 38-year-old Markle, who is currently living in L.A. with Prince Harry and their son Archie, expressed her nervousness that her words would be “picked apart” but said silence is worse.

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“I realized the only wrong thing to say is to say nothing because George Floyd’s life mattered,” she said last month.

The duchess, who is biracial, opened up about her memory of the riots in her hometown after police officers were acquitted in 1992 following the videotaped beating of Rodney King.

“I remember the curfew and I remember rushing back home and, on that drive home, seeing ash fall from the sky and smelling the smoke and seeing the smoke billow out of buildings and seeing people run out of buildings, carrying bags and looting,” she said.

“And I remember seeing men in the back of a van holding guns and rifles, and I remember pulling up to the house and seeing the tree that had always been there, completely charred. And those memories don’t go away.″

During the six-minute address, Markle also touched on a time when she was volunteering and her teacher told her: “Always remember to put other’s needs above your own fears.

“I know sometimes people say, ‘How many times do we need to rebuild?’″ she continued. “Well, you know what? We are going to rebuild and rebuild and rebuild until it is rebuilt. Because when the foundation is broken, so are we.”

meaghan.wray@globalnews.ca

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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