Prince Harry apologises for 'endemic racism' while presenting Diana Awards

1 July 2020, 20:02

Prince Harry was paying tribute to the recipients of the Diana Awards
Prince Harry was paying tribute to the recipients of the Diana Awards. Picture: Diana Awards

By Ewan Somerville

Prince Harry has apologised for not doing enough to "right the wrongs of the past" as he paid tribute to anti-racism campaigners while presenting the Princess Diana Award.

The Duke of Sussex praised recipients of the accolade in a surprise video message on Wednesday, on what would have been his late mother’s 59th birthday.

He told young people fighting racial prejudice that they give him the “greatest hope” and that Diana would have been “fighting your corner.”

“My wife said recently that our generation and the ones before us haven't done enough to wipe the wrongs of the past. I too am sorry,” he said in the video message.

“Sorry that we haven't got the world to the place where you deserve it to be. 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.

“I want you to know that we are committed to being part of the solution and to being part of the change that you are all leading. Now is the time and we know that you can do it.”

Praising the “incredible work” of those who won the award, the Duke said he is "confident about the world's future and its ability to heal"

The charity was set up to honour young change-makers in memory of the princess, who was killed in a car crash in 1997, when Harry was just 12 and William 15.

Prince Harry, also speaking on behalf of the Duke of Cambridge, highlighted the work of some of the 184 children and young adults presented with the accolade this year.

Among them was James Frater, a young black boy of Caribbean descent from London. He had 300 detentions and exclusions in school but, now 24, is training to become a doctor and has fought to increase black admissions at university, especially in the Russell Group of 24 leading institutions.

He also praised 23-year-old Nasra Ayub, from Bristol, an activist at Integrate UK, a youth-led charity that stands for gender and racial equality.

The Vamps star James McVey hosted the 2020 Diana Awards, with a host of celebrities giving video messages including singer Liam Payne and actress Dame Emma Thompson DBE.

Meghan Markle, who was not present, recently gave a personal speech to students at her old high school in Los Angeles paying tribute to George Floyd, a 46-year-old African-American man who died in US police custody, sparking global Black Lives Matter protests.

Tessy Ojo, Chief Executive, The Diana Award, said: “I am truly blown away by all the young change-makers being celebrated today.

“They are tackling some of the world's biggest issues, from mental health and climate change, access to education and sanitation, gender equality and racial injustice, a systemic issue that has recently come to the surface and I am truly proud of how these young people from across the globe are fighting hard to create a better world for us all.”

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