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Duke of Sussex praises young anti-racism activists

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Prince Harry has paid tribute to young people tackling racial inequality in a surprise message.

Also speaking on behalf of his brother, Prince William, he praised recipients of the Diana Award on what would have been their late mother Diana, Princess of Wales’s 59th birthday.

The prince said those working on race issues gave him the “greatest hope” amid divisions in the world.

His wife, Meghan, recently spoke to her old school about George Floyd’s death.

In a video message, the Duke of Sussex said he was “incredibly proud” to be part of the awards, which “honour” his mother’s legacy, telling recipients that she would have been “fighting your corner”.

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He praised the “incredible work” young people were doing in making a “positive mark” on the world during a time of “great uncertainty”.

He said situations were arising around the world where “division, isolation and anger” were dominating as “pain and trauma come to the surface”.

But he said he saw “the greatest hope” in people like them, adding he was “confident about the world’s future and its ability to heal” because it was in their hands.

Image Copyright @KensingtonRoyal

Twitter post by @KensingtonRoyal: The Duke of Cambridge and The Duke of Sussex are proud to congratulate the incredible changemakers that are the recipients of the #2020DianaAwards 👏 Watch this year's ceremony in full   Image Copyright @KensingtonRoyal

The charity was set up in memory of the princess who was killed in a car crash in 1997 when Harry was just 12 and William 15.

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Image caption

Diana, Princess Of Wales, visited Thorpe Park with sons Prince William And Prince Harry in 1993

The duke singled out the work of some of the 184 children and young adults presented with the accolade this year for their social action or humanitarian efforts.

One of them was James Frater, a young black boy of Caribbean descent from London who had had 300 detentions and exclusions from school before being mentored by four teachers.

Now 24, he is training to become a doctor and has focused on creating initiatives to increase the representation of black students at university, particularly those in the prestigious Russell Group.

Another award winner praised by Prince Harry included 23-year-old Nasra Ayub, from Bristol, an activist at Integrate UK, a youth-led charity that works towards gender and racial equality.

Shanea Kerry Oldham, 19, from London, was also praised. She developed the Operation Inspire mentoring programme for young boys that were excluded internally and founded Your Life More Life, which creates safe spaces for young people impacted by violence.

The Vamps star James McVey hosted this year’s award event, which included virtual messages from celebrities including singers Liam Payne and Bastille’s Dan Smith, actor Will Poulter, and actress Dame Emma Thompson.

Media captionMeghan called on young people and students at the school to come together to rebuild society

Last month, the Duchess of Sussex gave a personal speech to students at her old high school in Los Angeles following the death of Mr Floyd, a 46-year-old African-American man, in the USA, telling students his life “mattered”.

Mr Floyd died after a white police officer in Minneapolis knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes on 25 May. His death sparked a wave of global Black Lives Matter protests, including in the UK.

Hundreds of anti-racism activists gathered for demonstrations in cities including London, Coventry and Newcastle, despite the coronavirus lockdown.

There were also calls for public tributes to proponents of slavery or racist views to be removed, with a statue of slave trader Edward Colston ripped down and thrown into Bristol harbour by protesters.

Meanwhile, Oxford University’s Oriel College announced it wanted to take down its statue of colonialist Cecil Rhodes; and a statue of slaveholder Robert Milligan was removed in London’s east end.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are now living in Los Angeles with their son Archie after stepping back as senior working royals earlier this year.

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