Prince Harry and Prince William have joined forces to pay tribute to their late mother, Princess Diana, on Friday, July 1 – what would have been the Princess of Wales’ 61st birthday.
This year also marks the 25th anniversary of Diana’s death, which occurred on August 31, 1997.
The Duke of Sussex remembered his late mother in a videotaped during the Diana Awards ceremony. The charity, founded in 1999 and the only one to bear Diana’s name, highlights the work of young changemakers.
“Today we reflect on what would have been my mother’s 61st birthday,” Harry said in the opening speech of the awards ceremony.
And this year it will also be 25 years since she passed away. There hasn’t been a day in the past two and a half decades that I haven’t thought about the mark she left — not just on me and my brother — but on our whole lives,” he said.
“I see her legacy in all of you,” added the Duke. “I see her legacy in a Diana Award community that spans several generations. I see her legacy every time I meet families, youth and children from all over the world. And I see my mother’s legacy when I look at my own children every day.”
“My mother instilled in me ― and all of us a drive to speak and fight for a better world,” Harry explained. “And now, as a husband and parent, my mother’s voice is even stronger in my life.”
William also spoke about his mother’s legacy in a letter addressed to this year’s 180 winners from 29 countries.
“Congratulations on receiving the Diana Award today!” wrote the Duke of Cambridge. “You are part of an inspiring generation of young people who are changing the world through your actions, and I deeply admire your efforts.”
The royal praised the recipients for their “remarkable” stories and barrier-breaking skills.
“Thank you for your compassion, courage and absolute determination,” he added.
“You really are the personification of my mother’s legacy and I know she would be so proud of you,” he wrote. “I believe there is no better way to celebrate her life and work than by recognizing incredible people who devote so much time and effort to helping those around them.”
Last year, the brothers got together in person on their mother’s 60th birthday to unveil a statue they ordered to honor her legacy. Located in the Sunken Gardens of Kensington Palace, the statue was created by sculptor Ian Rank-Broadley.
The statue has three children – although Diana had two herself – to “represent the universality and generational impact of The Princess’s work,” according to Kensington Palace.
The brothers released a joint statement during the unveiling to remember their mother’s “love, strength and character”.
“Every day we wish she was still with us, and we hope that this statue will forever be seen as a symbol of her life and her legacy,” they said.