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Harry tells young people ‘our mum would be proud of you’ ahead of Diana statue unveiling with William

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Prince Harry has made his first public appearance since returning to the UK for the unveiling of a statue of his mother, Princess Diana.

The Duke of Sussex paid tribute to a group of young people honoured during a virtual ceremony for The Diana Award, saying his mother would have been “proud” of them.

Speaking about the awards, which recognise those who create and sustain positive change, Harry said: “I’m truly honoured to be celebrating your work, your commitment to change making and the vital role that you’ve taken on representing a new generation of humanitarianism.

The 36-year-old added: “Never be afraid to do what’s right. Stand up for what you believe in and trust that when you live by truth and in service to others, people will see that just as they did with my mum.”

Princess Diana with Prince William and Prince Harry in 1995
Image: Princess Diana with Prince William and Prince Harry in 1995

The Diana Award was set up in memory of Diana, Princess of Wales, and her faith in the next generation to change the world for the better.

The charity recognises the achievements of the 300 nine to 25-year-olds from across the world, with the ceremony taking place in what would have been the princess’s 60th year.

Harry is quarantining at his Frogmore Cottage ahead of the the unveiling of the statue commissioned by himself and Prince William, 39, to honour their mother’s legacy.

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A handful of people including Diana’s close family are due to attend the ceremony which takes place at Kensington Palace on Thursday, on what would have been Diana’s birthday.

Britain's Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex walk behind the hearse on the grounds of Windsor Castle during the funeral of Britain's Prince Philip, husband of Queen Elizabeth, who died at the age of 99, in Windsor, Britain, April 17, 2021. Alastair Grant/Pool via REUTERS
Image: The brothers were last together publicly at Prince Philip’s funeral in April

The Duke of Sussex is in London alone and will not be joined by his wife Meghan, who remains at their Santa Barbara home with their youngest child, daughter Lilibet Diana, who was born earlier this month, and son Archie, two.

In his awards speech the duke said: “Later this week, my brother and I are recognising what would have been our mum’s 60th birthday, and she would be so proud of you all for living authentic life with purpose and with compassion for others.

“Our mum believed that young people have the power to change the world.”

The brothers are expected to put their well-documented differences aside for the occasion which marks their first joint engagement since the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral in April.

Their relationship has been strained since Harry’s 2018 wedding to his American actress wife Meghan, but relations between them soured further after an explosive interview that the couple gave to chat show host Oprah Winfrey in March.

Harry and Meghan's interview with Oprah Winfrey will air on Sunday Pic: CBS
Image: Harry and Meghan’s interview with Oprah Winfrey contained allegations against the royal family. Pic: CBS

In it, Harry criticised his father Charles and said William and the family were trapped, while the couple accused one unnamed royal of making a racist remark.

Last year Harry and Meghan launched their charitable foundation Archewell with the goal to “build a better world”, and the non-profit body is championing racial justice, gender equity, climate change, mental health, online hate speech and empowering diverse voices.

The duke told the awards audience: “Meg and I fundamentally believe that our world is at the cusp of change, real change for the good of all.

“But the question before us is what that change will look like.

“The COVID-19 crisis exposed severe inequities and imbalances around the world. We saw the disproportionate effect of this pandemic on communities of colour, on women, on underserved communities and on less wealthy countries.

“We’ve seen and unless we take swift action, we will continue to see a disparity in our humanitarian and moral obligation to vaccinate the world.”