Prince Harry gives UN speech to virtually empty room
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Prince Harry warned of a “global assault on democracy and freedom” as he spoke about the legacy of Nelson Mandela. The Duke of Sussex, speaking at the UN General Assembly in New York on Monday to mark Nelson Mandela International Day, told of the dangers of climate change, the coronavirus pandemic, “weaponising lies and disinformation”, the war in Ukraine, and abortion laws in the US. Royal correspondent Peter Ford has since pointed out a lot of people “chose not to turn up” for Harry’s speech.
Speaking to The Morning Show, Mr Ford said: “It was a very informal gathering. It was basically turn up if you like.
“Clearly a lot of people chose to not turn up.
“There were a lot of empty seats. They could have brought in the seat fillers just to fill those seats.
“Netflix was obviously filming all this because they want to include this in the upcoming Harry and Meghan show.
“They wanted this grand occasion where everybody turned out to hear Harry talk but they didn’t turn out to do that at all.
“In fact, it’s become quite a funny meme where you see what they thought it was going to be and what it actually became.
“All those empty seats.”
The duke, who was joined by his wife, the Duchess of Sussex, also spoke about his mother Diana, the Princess of Wales’ meeting with the former South African leader in March 1997, and how he “sought solace” in Africa following her death.
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He said: “This has been a painful year in a painful decade. We’re living through a pandemic that continues to ravage communities in every corner of the globe; climate change wreaking havoc on our planet, with the most vulnerable suffering most of all; the few, weaponising lies and disinformation at the expense of the many; and from the horrific war in Ukraine to the rolling back of constitutional rights here in the United States.
“We are witnessing a global assault on democracy and freedom – the cause of Mandela’s life.”
Speaking about issues in Africa, the duke urged politicians across the world to “lead” despite “resistance from powerful interests”.
Harry and Meghan arrived at the UN event smiling and holding hands, giving no response to a US reporter’s question about biographer Tom Bower’s latest book Revenge: Meghan, Harry And The War Between The Windsors.
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Speaking about Diana, Harry said: “On my wall, and in my heart every day, is an image of my mother and Mandela meeting in Cape Town in 1997.
“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, straight away 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.
“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.”
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