The Duke of Sussex and his royal family gathered together at Buckingham Palace on Tuesday, in an early celebration for the Prince of Wales, who turns 70 on Nov. 14. At the event, which marked Harry and Meghan's first engagement as a married couple, the 33-year-old royal took the stage to deliver a heartfelt speech in honor of his father and all his contributions.
"Good afternoon and welcome to Buckingham Palace. We are here today to reflect on, and to celebrate, my father’s dedicated support to all of you and the work that you do," Prince Harry began his speech, before recognizing the one-year anniversary of the tragic bombing that took place in Manchester. "But first, I would like us to take a moment to remember all those affected by the tragic events at the Manchester Arena a year ago. We are fortunate to have over 250 representatives from the Emergency Services here today. It is right that we take a moment to recognize the amazing work they do every day and how each member of our Blue Light Services rise to meet the challenge of tragic events such as the attack a year ago. We are also joined by Youth United Cadets. Their organization also provided triage support to the medical crews on the attack."
"So, on behalf of my family and everyone here, I would like to say thank you to the Emergency Services and all those who supported the injured and affected," he said. "My brother, William, would be here today, were he not attending the service in Manchester to honor the victims, their families, the Emergency Services and the survivors, this afternoon. Our thoughts are with those who lost loved ones and those still dealing with the experiences of that night."
He continued on, thanking the crowd for attending the event, noting that it "really is amazing to see so many of you here today for this family celebration."
"I say 'family' because this is a chance for us to honor the Prince of Wales' work over the last forty plus years, with all of his charities, patronages and military associations," Harry added. "And, as you all know, my father views all of your organizations like an extended family."
ET spoke with royal expert Katie Nicholl, who explained to us how members of the public get invited to Queen Elizabeth II's garden parties. Her Royal Highness typically throws three of them a year, in the summer.
"You have to be carefully selected, and if you're lucky enough to get an invitation to a garden party, you really do get to mingle with royalty, to drink tea, and eat cucumber sandwiches and scones and jam and cream with the great and the good," she shared. "This particular garden party is in honor of the Prince of Wales. It's tying in with his 70th birthday, which doesn't actually happen until November, but this is his 70th year. It's being celebrated in many ways, and this garden party is really in recognition of everything that Charles has achieved in terms of his charities and the great work that he does right here in the U.K. and overseas."
"I think it is rather special that Meghan's first garden party at Buckingham Palace is to honor the Prince of Wales," she continued. "I think we have seen from the start Meghan warmly welcomed into the royal fold. Prince Charles was one of the first members of the family that she met when Harry knew that things were really going to go places, and, of course, walking her down the aisle on Saturday I think has cemented a friendship that has really intensified since then. I think Prince Charles is likely seeing Meghan as the other daughter that he never had. Of course, he has [another] daughter-in-law, the Duchess of Cambridge, and they have a lovely relationship, but I think he has a very fond place for Meghan. ... She was honored that he walked her down the aisle, and incredibly grateful to him. I think there is a firm friendship there."
Read the rest of Harry's speech below:
As I was preparing for this afternoon, I looked through the long list of those who had been invited. Pa, I was again struck by the range and diversity of the work which you are involved with. Currently there are your two major charities, The Prince's Trust and the newly formed – Prince's Foundation – which has brought together your work supporting vulnerable young people in society, the built environment, culture, heritage and education. These sit alongside your 18 military associations and more than 420 patronages, ranging from music and the arts to rare breeds and plant life. Although the subjects vary enormously, I know that the way in which you work with each of them does not.
Who amongst you has not known the joy, and perhaps trepidation at receiving a handwritten note in response to some news shared from your organisation, urging you on and asking for more to be done to address this issue or that? Who has not come away from a meeting with my father, their head spinning with a dozen new ideas which he wants to get underway urgently, having met a group of people or read something that has fired his imagination and started the flow of ideas.
His enthusiasm and energy are truly infectious; it has certainly inspired William and I to get involved in issues we care passionately about and to do whatever we can to make a difference. In fact, many of the issues William and I now work on are subjects we were introduced to by our father growing up. His passion and dedication are remarkable and seeing so many of you here today, I cannot fail but to be in awe of the drive he has had for so many years, to contribute to the enrichment of society both in this country and around the world.
But Pa, in my mind, this event sums up your approach to work – I know you really didn’t want today to be about you and would far rather the focus be on the people and organisations represented here. I know that in your mind, you see the opportunity of bringing everyone together as a chance to thank them for all of their amazing work! It is your selfless drive to affect change, whether that is to improve the lives of those who are on the wrong path, to save an important piece of our national heritage or to protect a particular species under threat, which William and I draw inspiration from every day.
So, Pa, while I know that you've asked that today not be about you, you must forgive me if I don’t listen to you – much like when I was younger – and instead, I ask everyone here to say a huge thank you to you, for your incredible work over nearly 50 years. Work that has given self-confidence and opportunity to thousands of young people who might not have had the best start in life; Or to champion causes like climate change long before almost anyone else was talking about it; and above all, for your vision and ability to bring people together to make change happen.
You have inspired William and I, and looking out here today, it is clear to see that we are not alone. You have created an incredible body of work that has, and will continue to make such a huge difference to so many people's lives both here and around the world.
With that, Ladies and Gentlemen, please can I ask you to join me in wishing The Prince of Wales a very Happy Birthday – six months ahead of his 70th! How very Royal!