The Duke and Duchess of Sussex paid tribute to the “amazing” winners at the WellChild awards in London on Tuesday night.
In a heartfelt speech at the Royal Lancaster Hotel, Prince Harry said he wanted to “acknowledge the young people who have been dealt the toughest cards imaginable,” and praised their “‘can-do’ attitude and unwavering spirit.”
The Duke has been a patron of WellChild – the national charity for seriously ill children and their families – since 2007.
It was his wife Meghan’s first time at the annual awards and she chose a chic black trouser suit by Altuzarra and Deitas blouse for the evening.
Before the ceremony, Harry and Meghan met with some of the inspirational winners, including seven-year-old Matilda Booth, who has spina bifida and is paralysed from the chest down.
Matilda won the Inspirational Child award in the 4-6 category and presented Meghan with a posy of white roses. The little girl was delighted when the Duchess gave her one of her flowers and told her to keep it in her ‘memory box.’
Harry also made a “pinky pledge” with the youngster and told her “never stop smiling as you’ve got a beautiful smile”.
The royal couple also met with Mckenzie Brackley, who has learned to speak, swallow, eat, drink and move again following a virus, which left him paralysed. During his time in hospital, Mckenzie supported other young patients and has helped the Edinburgh Children’s Hospital Charity with fundraising.
The four-year-old was a joint winner of the Inspirational Child award, alongside Matilda.
Other winners included Jacob Granger, 18, who cares for his younger sister Mellisa, 15, who has Angelman syndrome and 13-year-old Poppy, an awardee who has Panenteric Crohns Disease.
In another adorable moment, seven-year-old Ruby Joslin-Smith pulled Harry’s tie when he and Meghan met pupils from Riverside School – WellChild’s choir of the year.
In his speech, Harry talked about the tremendous work the charity has done to help sick children and their family, from developing new national standards, and establishing new training centres, to developing new digital tools.
After a short break from public duties, the Duke and Duchess are filling up their diaries for the remainder of the year. The couple, who wed in May earlier this year, attended a performance of Hamilton in support of Harry’s charity Sentebale, and we will also see them at the 100 Days to Peace Gala on Thursday 6 September.
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