Even amid many life changes, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are doing what they can to get the world back to normal. Prince Harry gave a speech about COVID-19 vaccines on Sunday, May 2, at Global Citizen’s VAX Live: The Concert to Reunite the World inside Los Angeles’ SoFi Stadium to encourage people to get COVID-19 vaccines and raise awareness for the need of worldwide distribution. The event marked his first public appearance since the memorial of his grandfather Prince Philip on April 17.
During his speech, Harry addressed the thousands of vaccinated frontline workers who were present for the taping of the show — and they gave him a standing ovation as he entered. “You spent the last year battling courageously and selflessly to protect us all,” he said. “You served and sacrificed, put yourselves in harm's way and with bravery knowing the costs. We owe you an incredible depth of gratitude, thank you.”
The Duke of Sussex went on to emphasize the importance of distributing vaccines around the world, with countries across Africa and Central America still waiting for their first doses. “We cannot rest or truly recover until there is fair distribution to every corner of the world,” he explained. “The mission in front of us is one we cannot afford to fail out and that's what tonight is about. The virus does not respect borders and access to the vaccine cannot be determined by geography. It must be accepted as a basic right for all and that is our starting point.”
Harry and Meghan, who is currently pregnant with their second child, served as campaign chairs for the benefit concert, which was hosted by Selena Gomez and featured performances from Jennifer Lopez, J Balvin, Foo Fighters, and H.E.R. President Joe Biden, First Lady Dr. Jill Biden, and Vice President Kamala Harris also made appearances, along with stars like Ben Affleck, Chrissy Teigen, and Gayle King. The show will be broadcast on May 8.
Of course, this is not the first effort made by Harry and Meghan when it comes to coronavirus. In April 2020, when lockdown measures were at their worst, the couple donated proceeds from their 2018 royal wedding broadcast to Feeding Britain, which provided food to families and children in Harry’s home country. A spokesperson for the couple told PEOPLE at the time that they were "delighted to be able to ensure this money is donated to such a great cause.”
Harry ended his speech by standing in solidarity with India’s hard-hitting second wave of COVID-19 cases, saying that “none of us should be comfortable” when other parts of the world are struggling. “In reality, and especially with this pandemic, when any suffer, we all suffer,” he said. “We must look beyond ourselves with empathy and compassion for those we know, and those we don't. We need to lift up all of humanity and make sure that no person or community is left behind.”