Prince Harry jokes about ‘living the American dream’ after noting ‘a lot has changed’

Prince Harry and Meghan at military awards veterans gala

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Prince Harry and his surprise guest Meghan attended the Salute to Freedom gala organised at the Intrepid Museum in New York. The Duke of Sussex was one of the guests of honour at the gala and awarded the inaugural Valor Awards to recipients who demonstrated “courage and perseverance in the face of great danger or personal struggle”.

Harry began his speech by introducing honourees by recalling his last visit to the museum and cracking a joke.

He said: “Good evening everybody, it’s wonderful to be back on USS Intrepid a decade after my last visit – and a lot has changed since then.

“Just last week, I went for a ride on the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile – how’s that for living the American dream!”

Wienermobiles are iconic cars shaped like a hot dog on a bun used in the US to promote Oscar Mayer products.

In his speech, Harry celebrated the strength of military personnel who experienced service injuries and the importance of providing a community hub for those who served their country.

He said: “Many of us in this room understand why servicemembers often feel isolated after they come home or once they leave the forces.

“Wouldn’t you? For years, we (and our families) orient our entire lives around the mission, the duty, the commitment, and yes – the hurry up and wait.

“And when we return, we long for the same feelings and contributions: self-purpose, focus, service to others, and being part of a team. 

“I’ve lived in the US for close to two years now.

“I have to say, witnessing your support for all those that put themselves in harm’s way in defence of our freedoms and liberties – it’s remarkable and hugely respected.

“It reminds me of the deep reverence us Brits have for our military as well.

“The armed forces communities in both our countries share a special bond, and I’m grateful to have served in support of our joint allyship for many years.” 

Prince Harry, who last visited the USS Intrepid in June 2010, served in the Army for a decade and completed two tours in Afghanistan.

After he ended his career in the military, he dedicated much of his work to support service personnel and veterans.

In particular, he supports ill, wounded and sick current and former servicemen and women through the Invictus Games, a multi-sports tournament he launched in 2014.

He also worked on shining a light on the importance for Army members to take care of their mental wellbeing as they do with their physical form.

As a consequence, following years of collaboration with the Ministry of Defence, he spearheaded the launch of the platform HeadFIT in mid-2020.

This initiative provides Army personnel with tools to enhance and safeguard their mental health.

This gala took place on the eve of Armistice Day, known as Veterans Day in the US.

Both Meghan and Harry paid tribute to the fallen by donning red Remembrance poppy on their outfits.

Meghan had done so also on Tuesday, as she took part in The New York Times’ DealBook virtual summit.

There, the Duchess discussed how women can reach economic and professional parity.

But she also touched on other issues, including her fight for paid family leave in the US, saying she does not believe it is political.

She said: “I don’t see this as a political issue, frankly. Look, there is certainly a precedent amongst my husband’s family and the Royal Family of not having any involvement in politics but I think this is, I mean, paid leave, from my standpoint, is a humanitarian issue.”

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