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Prince Harry took the stage during the U.N. General Assembly on Monday, to give an inspiring speech on Nelson Mandela Day. The Duke of Sussex took the podium to speak “with humility” about the importance of the late leader’s legacy.
During his speech, which was also attended by his wife, Meghan Markle, the duke spoke about the Duchess of Sussex, and the other woman closest to his heart, his late mother, Princess Diana. Harry became reflective as he mentioned a photograph of his mother and Nelson Mandela that was given to him by the late Archbishop Desmond Tutu, during his and Meghan’s royal tour of Africa in 2019.
“When I first looked at the photo, straight away what jumped out was the joy on my mother’s face. The playfulness, cheekiness even,” he said about the picture of Diana and Mandela taken in 1997. “The pure delight to be in communion with another soul so committed to serving humanity.”
The duke spoke about Mandela’s home continent of Africa, and the important place it holds in his personal and professional life.
“Since I first visited Africa at 13 years old I always found hope on the continent,” the 37-year-old said. “In fact, for most of my life, it has been my lifeline. A place where I found peace and healing time and time again. It’s where I felt closest to my mother and sought solace after she died. And where I knew I had found the soulmate in my wife. So much of my work is based there.”
During their engagement interview, the duke opened up about the special moment. "I managed to persuade her to come and join me in Botswana,” he told the BBC interviewer. “We camped out with each other under the stars. She came and joined me for five days out there, which was absolutely fantastic. So then we were really by ourselves, which was crucial to me to make sure that we had a chance to know each other."
Harry commemorated his “second home” with a diamond stone he added to Meghan’s engagement ring, sourced from Botswana.
The couple returned to Africa in 2017, for Meghan’s 37th birthday, where they did conservation work. And again in 2019, for their royal tour -- which would be one of their last as working members of the royal family before moving to the United States in 2020.
Harry's speech on Monday also honored Mandela's legacy and commitment to serving -- even in the face of adversity. The royal celebrated the community and work that is being done by the younger generation, during the present times of crisis.
"What a beautiful gift, especially as a dad of two young children myself," Harry said. "The message that this world is meant to be shared. The work of each generation is tied to those who came before and those who will come after us. That we have an obligation to give as much, if not more, than we take and never shutter in the face of darkness. For hope is the fuel that courage requires."