The Duke of Sussex said his late grandmother Queen Elizabeth II “is looking down on all of us, happy we’re together” during a charity awards ceremony on the eve of the anniversary of his grandmother’s death.
Prince Harry, who landed in the UK without Meghan on Thursday for his first appearance since June, attended the WellChild Awards at the Hurlingham Club, where he sat with seriously ill children and their families ahead of the ceremony.
The duke, who has been patron of the children’s charity for 15 years, took to the stage on the eve of the first anniversary of the late Queen’s death and said: “As you know, I was unable to attend the awards last year as my grandmother passed away.
“As you also probably know, she would have been the first person to insist that I still come to be with you all instead of going to her, and that’s precisely why I know exactly one year on that she is looking down on all of us tonight, happy we’re together, continuing to spotlight such an incredible community.”
It was the first time the royal had been seen in the UK since his high-profile legal case at the High Court against Mirror Group Newspapers earlier in the year.
However, he is unlikely to meet up with his father, King Charles III, or brother, Prince William, during the fleeting visit, with relations between the trio still believed to be frosty after the publication of Harry’s bombshell memoir Spare in January this year.
After arriving at the event, Harry was seen chatting to each young award winner at the reception. In one set of photos, he can be seen laughing with seven-year-old Poppy Higham, from Runcorn, as she danced to music by Ed Sheeran and spoke to him about her love of Disney.
The duke then played around with a giraffe balloon and showed Poppy its rotating head, prompting her to play with it.
Noticing that each winner’s balloon represented a different animal, Harry asked: “Is the theme Madagascar?”
He was also seen fist bumping two of the boys receiving Inspirational Young Person awards – George Hall, 11, from Skipton, and Blake McCaughey, 15, from Country Armagh. Harry was then gifted a green Belfast Giants ice hockey shirt from Blake and his family, with his name personalised on the back.
The Duke of Sussex added in his speech: “As a father of two – and three dogs, so basically five – I’m acutely aware of the many joys and challenges that come with parenting.
“And that’s with kids who aren’t facing health challenges. So, to the parent carers in the room, you have my sincerest admiration and respect. The level of support and responsibility you share daily is unrivalled and without fail.
“You deserve all the assistance you need – whether it’s training enough skilled carers to help shoulder the increasing demands of 24/7 care routines or simply providing time and space for you to take a break once in a while.
“It is our collective responsibility to continue to provide new and existing resources for you, to advocate on your behalf, and to help in any way we can. You are proof that not all superheroes wear capes!”
Harry will still be in the capital on Friday for the first anniversary of the death of the Queen, who died on 8 September last year after reigning for 70 years.
However, a royal source told MailOnline that Charles “had no time in his diary” to meet his son. The monarch is currently in Balmoral with Queen Camilla, while William is 100 miles away on a visit to Dorset, where he was given a surprise kiss by Paul Gascoigne in Pret.
After the event, Harry will jet off again on Saturday for Dusseldorf, Germany, for the opening ceremony of his Invictus Games.
However, Meghan is set to stay in California with their two children. She will reportedly fly out later in the week for the closing ceremony, where both she and Harry will give speeches.
The Invictus Games was set up by Harry in 2014 for injured and sick military personnel and veterans. A documentary, Heart of Invictus, was launched last week as part of the Sussexes’ multimillion-pound deal with Netflix.
It follows a group of service members on their road to the Paralympic-style sporting competition.
The couple’s other main output for the channel prior to that was last year’s Harry & Meghan documentary.
The six-part series followed the early courtship of the couple and Meghan’s struggle to adapt to the media glare that comes from being in the royal family.
There were also a number of controversial moments, including Harry’s claim that William “screamed” at him over plans to leave the royal family, and claims that the Palace leaked the couple’s exit strategy.
The trip to Europe comes a day after embattled former US president Donald Trump said he felt Meghan and Harry were “disrespectful” to the Queen when the couple stepped down as working royals in 2020.
Speaking to radio host Hugh Hewitt on The Hugh Hewitt Show on Wednesday, Mr Trump said: “I didn’t like the way she dealt with the Queen. They treated her with great disrespect and I didn’t like it.”
Mr Trump, who met the Queen on a three-day UK state visit in June 2019, described the late monarch as an “incredible woman” and said he wanted to go head-to-head with Meghan in a debate.
POST AUTHOR: Joe Middleton and Holly Evans