The Duke of Sussex travelled to London in support of those associated with and aided by the national charity, which cares for sick children and their families. Though Harry chose to forego his royal duties in 2020 alongside the Duchess of Sussex when the pair stepped down from their roles as senior royals, he’s remained an active contributor to WellChild for the past 15 years.
Harry appeared at the awards ceremony on Thursday 7 September solo, while Meghan stayed back in the US. But, according to duke, his wife wished she could have been with him to support the cause. When speaking at the reception honouring the children and their resilient parents, Harry reportedly confessed Meghan’s desire to be there.
In conversation with one family, he expressed how his wife was “very upset that she couldn’t be here” before their “busy week,” according to a Hello! Magazine report. The royal pair will be attending the Invictus Games in Dusseldorf, Germany in the coming days, with Prince Harry set to be there for the entirety of the games, while Meghan will join him later.
Despite Meghan’s absence, the chief executive of WellChild, Matt James, expressed gratitude for having Harry attend the celebration. Before the awards, James told People: “This was the first time in four years that he has been able to take part in this way. We wouldn’t be where we are today if it wasn’t for his support.”
Last year, Harry and Meghan attended the award ceremony but received the tragic news that Queen Elizabeth was in critical condition before her death on 8 September. In the previous years, WellChild had to tweak and cancel its in-person event due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We talk a lot about how we punch above our weight as we are a small team doing a lot of good work at a high level, and we wouldn’t be where we are without the work the duke has done to help us fundraise, attract supporters and providing a platform to shine a light on the issues being faced by families up and down the country,” James continued.
He added: “But also for the hundreds of smiles he has put on faces of WellChild Award winners over the years. It’s such a boost for us.”
This year, Harry took the opportunity to greet multiple caretakers and sick children. Blake McCaughey, recipient of the Inspiration Young Person award in the age range of 15 to 18, presented Harry with a Belfast hockey jersey during their one-on-one. Meanwhile, 14-year-old Ruky Anighoro sang a song he and his sister had written this year, called, “Watch Me Now.”
James said he thought having Harry speak to the affected individuals excited their families and added an extra layer of excitement around the reception. “That is the moment they never forget. They will treasure and take it away with them and tell their friends and families. They leave that room with huge smiles on their faces and absolutely buzzing,” he said.
“Tonight is about providing them with a moment they will never ever forget and about providing them with recognition that they don’t often get,” James continued. “What these children and their carers do is often unseen and the Duke’s presence there provides a huge lift.”
Although the duke is in the UK, he is not expected to see members of his family, such as his father King Charles or his brother Prince William, during his trip.