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Harry makes surprise charity visit ahead of Diana statue unveiling

Harry makes surprise charity visit ahead of Diana statue unveiling
The Duke of Sussex was in Kew Gardens on Wednesday, ahead of the statue unveiling set to take place at Kensington Palace tomorrow

le Duke of Sussex made a surprise appearance at Kew Gardens to congratulate WellChild award winners at a private event on Wednesday afternoon, before he joins his brother for the unveiling of a statue honouring their mother tomorrow.

The award ceremony celebrated the inspirational qualities of the UK’s seriously ill children and young people, along with those who “go that extra mile to make a difference in their lives”.

Alongside award winners, Harry joined celebrities Ed Sheeran, Ronnie Wood, Amanda Holden, AJ Pritchard and Abbie Quinnen at the event, as well as singer Anne-Marie who performed an acoustic set.

Seven-year-old Carmela Chillery-Watson was among the winners, receiving the Inspirational Child 7-11 award.

She has congenital muscular dystrophy, which weakens skeletal and respiratory muscles and causes heart defects. Despite her condition, in lockdown Carmela completed a 2.6-mile marathon challenge in her garden, a London virtual WalkWithCarmela event, and a 30-day WonderWomanWalk in which she completed 300km with her mother, raising more than £50,000 for Muscular Dystrophy UK.

Carmela’s mother said: “Carmela never complained once about her pains and discomforts. Just seeing the fundraising money was enough for her”.

The duke has been a patron of the organisation that supports seriously ill children and young people in the UK and ensures they have opportunities to thrive since 2007, retaining a private patronage when he moved to the US, despite being stripped of his royal patronages last year.

In a statement released by WellChild, Harry said: “Since becoming patron of WellChild in 2007, this organisation and the people within it have held an extraordinarily special place in my heart.

I wasn’t a father at the time, and yet the stories of these children and parents transcended that. I didn’t need to be a dad to feel the impact of this invaluable work.

Now as a father of two, I feel all the more connected, inspired and in awe of the resilience of these families, who power through indescribable challenges with the support of WellChild.

The health of our children, of all of us, could not have been more on the forefront of our minds during the past year.

“Et, throughout this time, the WellChild community has set an example for how to show up and act with compassion for each other.

I could not be prouder to be here, to meet this year’s WellChild Award winners, to thank the nurses and doctors for all they do, and to celebrate these amazing families.

The duke met individually with each award winner, presenting them with their awards, and speaking with them about how the coronavirus pandemic had impacted their lives.

He was also spotted chatting with Mr Sheeran about fatherhood and the birth of his second daughter, Lili, who was born at the beginning of June, Bonjour! magazine reported.

"Toutes nos félicitations, a girl, droite? We just had a little girl 10 months ago now. You’re still in the trenches now. How do you manage with two?” Mr Sheeran asked.

“Two is definitely a juggle,” the duke replied.

Bonjour! also reported that while speaking to another guest, Harry revealed that Lili was “very chilled” and was content to sit around whilst her brother Archie was “running around like crazy”.

This is the first time in two years the event has been held in person, as last year’s ceremony was cancelled because of the pandemic.

Harry is set to join his brother the Duke of Cambridge at the unveiling of a statue of their mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, at Kensington Palace tomorrow.

The statue was jointly commissioned by the brothers in 2017, on the 20e anniversary of her death in a car crash. It will be revealed on what would have been her 60e birthday.

When asked about the statue’s unveiling at the WellChild event, Harry said that he was “just so glad” that it could take place on his mother’s birthday, saying that he was unsure that it would have been possible.

The two dukes as well as Diana’s close family will attend the statue’s unveiling, along with others involved in its creation.

The statue was designed by Ian Rank-Broadley, an artist with a long history of creating images of the royal family. Mr Rank-Broadley will be in attendance at the unveiling, as will Pip Morrison, who redesigned the Sunken Garden where the statue is located.