Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were at the WellChild Awards last night. WellChild helps children and youth who are living with serious illnesses and the caregivers who support them. The event honours the kids who, despite living with chronic disease, are giving back their communities – like Emilie:
Inspirational Young Person Emilie, 16, had a brain stem tumour last year which led to an acquired brain injury. She lost the function of almost everything (now using an iPad to communicate) but is determined to make a full recovery and go to university. She’s even fundraising! pic.twitter.com/9Y0h9D5iXd— Omid Scobie (@scobie) October 15, 2019
Oakley, 13, has Stevens-Johnson Syndrome. In 2013 he was hospitalised and suffered multiple organ failure and had to re-learn how to walk, talk and eat. Despite the trauma, he later returned to the same hospital to support another young child going through the same symptoms. pic.twitter.com/S0sqqoRGVC— Omid Scobie (@scobie) October 15, 2019
Activist (and @WellChild Inspirational Young Person) Mia, 12, has a form of Cerebral Palsy that affects her mobility but has turned her disability into a positive. She’s a member of the Youth Parliament of Wales, campaigning on issues such as disabled access to parks. pic.twitter.com/vWPODkxxQ9— Omid Scobie (@scobie) October 15, 2019
The WellChild Awards acknowledges both the spirit of these children and the efforts of their parents and guardians whose lives are also affected by their health needs. Harry has been the patron of WellChild for many years and this event is a priority on his calendar. As is customary, upon arriving, he and Meghan spent time with the kids and their caregivers, learning each person’s story and understanding their specific situation. During the event, these stories are also shared from the stage. I have friends and colleagues who’ve been to WellChild and all of them have said that it’s an emotional night – these kids are so brave and so inspiring. I relate to by my own experience attending the Special Olympics gala, meeting Special Olympians and their families, seeing their determination and their will to participate and compete and do the most with the opportunities they have. By the end of the evening, I’m always wide open, raw and exposed. Which must have been how Harry was feeling when it was his turn to speak.
It is unusual, as we know, for members of the British royal family to show that they have feelings, and especially to get choked up, to be overcome by their feelings. This is why people connected so much to Princess Diana – because she, as they say, wore her feelings on her sleeve. Her sons, William and Harry, have tried to carry on her work with their own focus on mental health, encouraging people to get in touch with their fears, their anxieties, their sadness, their pain, and their anger. Back in January, in Davos, William spoke candidly about the British tradition of suppressing emotions, saying it was the way of a previous generation that’s no longer viable in modern times. Here’s his brother living up to that idea, modelling a more sensitive version of masculinity.