Prince Harry to make keynote speech for UN’s Mandela Day celebrations

The Duke of Sussex will address the UN General Assembly at its annual celebration of Nelson Madela International Day.

arry is expected to speak about the legacy of the South African anti-apartheid leader who spent 27 years in prison and became his country’s first black leader.

The 37-year-old will be the keynote speaker at the UN event, on Monday, and South Africa’s UN Mission said his remarks “will be around the memories and legacy of Mandela and what has been learned from his struggle and his life that can help up face the new challenges in the world today”.


Former South African president Nelson Mandela (Toby Melville/PA)

The world still faces challenges that were there during Mandela’s life including racial intolerance, the divide between rich and poor, hunger and food insecurity, a mission diplomat said.

General Assembly spokesperson Paulina Kubiak officially announced the programme for Nelson Mandela International Day, with Harry giving the keynote and participants including assembly president Abdulla Shahid, UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed, New York Mayor Eric Adams and Guinea’s Foreign Minister Morissanda Kouate.

The General Assembly established July 18 – Mandela’s birthday – as an international day to honour him not only by celebrating his life and contributions but by carrying out the tradition of participating in a community service activity.

Harry will be accompanied at the UN by his wife Megan, the duchess of Sussex. A former actress, she spoke at a conference at UN headquarters organised by UN Women on International Women’s Day in 2015, before her marriage to the prince.

In January 2020, the couple stepped down as senior members of the royal family and moved to the duchess’ native Southern California, where they continue to live with their two children.

Harry and Megan visited South Africa in 2019 with their son, Archie, on their first official tour as a family before they gave up royal duties.

Harry’s mother – Diana, Princess of Wales – met Mr Mandela in March 1997, just five months before her death in a car crash in Paris.

The couple’s last trip to New York was in September 2021 to appear at the Global Citizen Live concert in Central Park to help raise awareness of the need for vaccine equity to end the Covid-19 pandemic.

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