We must follow the example of the young people of Lesotho, and meet one of the great challenges of our generation with optimism, energy, and openness.Prince Harry
Good evening everyone and welcome to Kensington Palace.
Tonight you've been learning a little bit about Lesotho, a beautiful mountain kingdom I first travelled to when I was 19.
What I saw there was a country with significant challenges; some of the world's most vulnerable young people, robbed of their childhoods - forced into work due to extreme poverty and the loss of ONE OR BOTH parents to the devastating HIV/AIDS epidemic. In some cases the 'lady of the house' was a 12-year-old girl looking after her brothers and sisters.
But what I remember most from that first visit was learning that this was a country with joy in its heart – a country that faced its challenges with warmth, optimism, and courage. It didn't take me long to be hooked on the country and to the irresistible smiles of its children.
My friend Prince Seeiso and I founded Sentebale to do what we could to support the young people of Lesotho – to empower a generation with knowledge and understanding so they can give their country an alternative, brighter future.
Sentebale, meaning forget me not in Sesotho, has helped tens of thousands of children in just over a decade. We focus on, not just making sure children with HIV, get the medical treatment they need, but the emotional support and empowering knowledge that is so vital for their long-term health and prosperity. And we put that warmth, optimism, and courage that I first saw in Lesotho as a teenager, into everything we do.
Now, I know you've come here tonight to see some of the best entertainers on the planet. But I want to take this moment to give you something to think about…
If you have been moved by the stories that you've heard, please commit to taking a little bit of time to learn about the fight against HIV in places like Lesotho, throughout Africa, and here in the UK as well.
This is a topic that has drifted from the headlines, but remains an urgent challenge. In southern Africa, the epidemic remains the biggest killer of adolescents. Here in the UK, more people have the virus than ever before.
What we know is that HIV is a virus that thrives off silence and feeds on stigma. Every single one of us has a responsibility to educate ourselves. To do what we can to speak out and stamp out the silence, ignorance, and fear that the virus needs to win.
We must follow the example of the young people of Lesotho, and meet one of the great challenges of our generation with optimism, energy, and openness. That's what tonight is all about. When people come together for a purpose we can achieve extraordinary things.
Lastly, I'm so pleased to have the support of all the great acts here tonight to help us raise awareness of this work. Thank you to Joss and the choir, thank you to George, thank you to Nico and Vinz, thank you to Laura, and thank you to the band that I now have the great pleasure of introducing – ladies and gentleman, fresh from making Glastonbury glow, one of our own, Coldplay!