Prince Harry’s ‘clunky’ Nelson Mandela UN speech full of ‘self-righteous anger’

Prince Harry: UN speech 'lacked substance' says Andrews

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On Monday, Prince Harry and his wife Meghan Markle arrived in New York City for an important joint public outing. The Duke of Sussex was thrust into the spotlight with a high-profile address to the United Nations (UN) on International Nelson Mandela Day, which was established by the organisation in 2009. Harry referenced issues the world is currently facing, paid tribute to his late mother Diana, Princess of Wales, and spoke of the place Africa holds in his heart. 

However, the address has been met with widespread backlash, with one royal author describing it as “clunky” with “a sense of self-righteous anger.”

Alexander Larman, author of ‘The Crown in Crisis: Countdown to the Abdication’, claimed: “Harry’s speech was much the same as his other recent offerings, combining a sense of self-righteous anger with a clunking reminder of his (and his family’s) right-on credentials.”

He expressed his views in an opinion piece for The Spectator on Monday, saying: “Although his speech was supposedly about climate change – appropriately enough, given that his former home country has been sweltering in the hottest day on record – he managed to cover a range of topics, most of which seemed to have little to do with Mandela himself.”

During the 20-minute long address, Harry spoke about climate change, the Ukraine war, the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the Roe vs Wade ruling and Africa being mired in poverty. 

To conclude, Harry declared: “These historic weather events are no longer historic. 

“More and more, they are part of our daily lives – and this crisis will only grow worse unless our leaders lead. 

“Unless the countries represented by the seats in this hallowed hall make the decisions – the daring, transformative decisions – that our world needs to save humanity.”

While Mr Larman noted the Duke’s “commendable sentiment”, he argued that “ it is hard not to feel a sense of the old tunes being played once again”.

He added: “Making the speech while clothed in the enduring righteousness of Mandela has given it an importance that, based on its contents, it once again doesn’t deserve.”

Critics in the US have blasted Harry as a “figurehead for colonialism” who has “no record of commitment to the kinds of ideas that Mandela stood for”. 

Stefanie Cargill, senior producer at American TV channel MSNBC, posted: “Prince Harry’s speech on Nelson Mandela was a disservice to Mandela’s legacy.”

While Zeeshan Aleem, MSNBC opinion columnist, said Harry failed to be “insightful or memorable”.

He said: “The British royal offered an insipid, cliché-laden take that only further watered down the anti-apartheid icon’s story.”

Mr Aleem also questioned why the royal, who stepped down from his senior position within the Royal Family in 2020, was invited to speak in the first place.

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The US journalist said: “As a member of the British Royal Family, he’s a figurehead of colonialism and has no record of commitment to the kinds of ideas that Mandela stood for.”

Harry did pay tribute to his late mother’s relationship with the former South African President, referencing a photo of Princess Diana and Mandela, he 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.” 

He continued: “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.” 

Diana and Mandela reportedly had great respect for each other, with the pair being two of the most influential global figures in the Nineties.

Five months before her death, in August 1997, the Princess of Wales went to Cape Town for a private visit to her brother, Earl Spencer, who lived in the town’s suburbs at the time. 

While she was there, she had the opportunity to meet the South African President. 

Through their mutual dedication to helping Africa’s most needy, they developed an incredible bond and helped to bring together two very different countries.

Following their meeting, Mandela praised Diana’s commitment to helping those infected with AIDS. He said: “We saw her sitting on the beds of AIDS patients and shaking hands with them, and that changed perceptions dramatically with regards to AIDS.”

Meanwhile, Diana insisted she was happy to help, saying: “I came here to discuss the situation of AIDS in the country with the president and that’s what we’ve been discussing

“I said if I can help in any way, I’m available to do it.”

Perhaps one of Diana’s most notable moments was when the princess stepped out onto an active minefield in Angola to aid in the call for an international ban on landmines.

Mandela expressed his appreciation for Diana’s visit with the children in Angola, who had been crippled by landmines, acknowledging that the destruction of South Africa’s landmines was largely because of her attention to the subject. 

Harry has followed in his mother’s footsteps, returning to Africa – the country he found “solace” in after his mother’s death – and working for the causes close to Diana’s heart.

His reference to his mother during his keynote speech was quickly picked up on social media, with one account praising the Duke of Sussex for a “sincere and heartfelt” address.

Twitter user @naseemak27 said: “He encapsulated Mandela’s legacy so aptly.”

They added: “Diana must be so proud.”

Another Twitter user, @PritiMcbeth, chimed in: “Great speech.

“Diana’s youngest son is shining.”

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