Honoring her memory. On what would have been the late Princess Diana‘s 61st birthday, Prince William and Prince Harry individually paid tribute to their mother and celebrated the impact she had on the world.
William, 40, offered insight on the late royal’s legacy to the recipients of the Diana Award on Friday, July 1. “Congratulations on receiving The Diana Award today! You are part of an inspirational generation of young people who are changing the world through your actions, and I hugely admire your efforts,” he wrote in a letter for the award, which honors people aged 9 to 25.
The Duke of Cambridge also referred to the honorees as an “inspiration” to himself. “I hugely admire your efforts. Your stories are remarkable. Many of you face huge challenges in the face of difficult times, yet you are tirelessly breaking down barriers to create a better future for us all,” he continued, referring to their social action and humanitarian work.
For the U.K. native, who lost his mother in 1997 due to a car crash, seeing the hard work that his mother’s action inspired has been thrilling. “You truly are the personification of my mother’s legacy and I know she would be so proud of you all,” he added. “I believe there’s no better way to celebrate her life and work than through recognizing incredible people who dedicate so much time and effort to helping those around them.”
Harry, 37, for his part, surprised the recipients with a virtual appearance at the ceremony. “Today, we’re reflecting on what would have been my mother’s 61st birthday. And this year is also 25 years since her passing,” the Duke of Sussex explained. “There isn’t a day during the past two and half decades where I haven’t thought about the mark she left not only on me and my brother, but on all of our lives.”
During his lengthy video, Harry thanked everyone for helping “keep her voice alive” following his mother’s tragic death. “I see her legacy in all of you,” he continued. “I see her legacy in a Diana Award community that spans multiple generations. I see her legacy every time I meet with families, young people, and children from all corners of the world. And, I see my mum’s legacy when I look at my own children every day.”
Harry also used his platform to speak out about the ongoing issues in the world. “My mother instilled in me, and in all of us, a drive to speak up and fight for a better world. And now, as a husband and a parent, my mother’s voice is even stronger in my life,” he added. “All of you have helped keep her voice alive by showing the world how each small action counts, how kindness is still valued, and how our world can be better if we choose to make it so.”
The royal added: “To everybody who is part of this afternoon know that you are already making a difference, and we need you to keep making a difference. Don’t ever give up on the idea that each of you can create lasting and much-needed change.”
The late Princess of Wales died at age 36 after sustaining injuries in a car crash in Paris. At the time of her passing, William was 15 and his younger brother, Prince Harry, was 12. The brothers, who have been going through a rift following Harry’s departure from his royal duties, previously reunited to commemorate their mother with a statue that they commissioned 20 years after her death.
“Today, on what would have been our mother’s 60th birthday, we remember her love, strength and character – qualities that made her a force for good around the world, changing countless lives for the better,” they said in a joint statement during their reunion at Kensington Palace in London for the unveiling in July 2021. “Every day, we wish she were still with us, and our hope is that this statue will be seen forever as a symbol of her life and her legacy.”