It’s an image of two global icons clearly enjoying each other’s company and one that takes pride of place in the Californian home of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. Prince Harry last week revealed how a photograph of his mother Diana, Princess of Wales meeting South Af r ican Pres ident Nelson Mandela in Cape Town in 1997 is “on my wall and in my heart every day”.
Addressing the United Nations General Assembly in New York City to mark Nelson Mandela International Day, he said: “The photo was presented to me by the late Archbishop Desmond Tutu, whose friendship and inspiration were their own treasured gift. My wife and I had the honour of introducing our four-month-old son to him back in 2019.
“When I first looked at the photo, what jumped out was the joy on my mother’s face; the playfulness, cheekiness, even… pure delight to be in communion with another soul so committed to serving humanity.”
Watched by his wife Meghan, elegant in a black pencil skirt and top by Givenchy, the Duke continued: “Then I looked at Mandela. Here was a man with the weight of the world on his shoulders, asked to heal his country from the wreckage of its past and transform it for the future.
“A man who had endured the very worst of humanity – vicious racism and state-sponsored brutality. A man who had lost 27 years with his children and family that he would never get back. Yet, in that photo and so many others, he is still beaming. Still able to see the goodness in humanity. Still buoyant with a beautiful spirit that lifted everyone around him.
“Not because he was blind to the ugliness, the injustices of the world – no, he saw them clearly; he had lived them – but because he knew we could overcome them.” Harry added that he has “always found hope” in Africa, a continent where he “found peace and healing”. He added: “It’s where I’ve felt closest to my mother and sought solace after she died, and where I knew I had found a soulmate in my wife.” Speaking about Mandela’s legacy, he urged politicians across the world to “lead” despite “resistance from power ful interests” on issues such as climate change, disinformation, Covid-19, the war in Ukraine and abortion laws. He said: “It’s more important than ever that we seek a purpose greater than ourselves.” He and Meghan had arrived at the UN event smiling and holding hands and did not respond to a question from a US reporter about biographer Tom Bower’s book Revenge: Meghan, Harry and the War Between the Windsors.
Later Meghan, who had changed into navy pleated shorts, a white shirt and Manolo Blahnik heels, was seen holding hands with feminist activist Gloria Steinem as they stepped out for lunch in Manhattan.
The two women, who first met in 2020, have recently joined forces on a plan to get Congress to ratify an amendment to the US Constitution guaranteeing equal rights for women, in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn abortion laws in the US. Later, making the most of their time away from their children Archie, three, and 13-month-old Lilibet, Harry and Meghan headed for dinner with friends at Locanda Verde in the city’s Tribeca district, the Duchess wearing a strapless monochrome jumpsuit by Gabriela Hearst.