Harry and Meghan win racial justice and mental health award

A US human rights charity has awarded Harry and Meghan its Ripple of Hope award for their activism on racial justice and mental health.

In a statement celebrating their award, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex said “a ripple of hope can turn into a wave of change”. The couple received the award on Tuesday night in New York, two days before the release of a tell-all Netflix show expected to include damning revelations about the royal family.

In a trailer for the show, Harry speaks of a “hierarchy in the family”, a “dirty game”, and says: “We know the full truth”.

The Robert F Kennedy Human Rights organisation (RFKHR) hands out the annual accolade to leaders in government, business, activism and entertainment, this year also honouring Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, and the Bank of America president, Brian Moynihan, among others.

During the ceremony, the couple announced they would be collaborating with the RFKHR on a new award recognising gender equity in student film, which they said they hoped would “inspire a new generation of leadership in the arts, where diverse up and coming talent have a platform to have their voices heard and their stories told”.

According to the RFKHR, honourees are those who have demonstrated “an unwavering commitment to social change and worked to protect and advance equity, justice, and human rights”.

The award is named after the “ripple of hope” speech on apartheid given in 1966 given by Robert Kennedy, the former US president John F Kennedy’s brother, to students at Cape Town University in South Africa. The charity was set up shortly after Robert Kennedy was murdered in 1968.

His daughter, Kerry Kennedy, a human rights lawyer and the charity’s president, said the Sussexes had been “incredibly brave” in addressing the issues of racial justice and mental illness.

“They’ve stood up, they’ve talked about racial justice and they’ve talked about mental illness in a way that was incredibly brave,” she told the US news outlet Extra.

“In this world in the wake of Covid there has been a massive spike … people around the globe have said they have anxiety and massive depression. For Meghan to get out there on national television and normalise discussion of mental health, at this point, is incredibly important and very brave.”

The 2022 Ripple of Hope ceremony was hosted by the Hollywood actor Alec Baldwin.

The ceremony also recognised the former NBA basketball star and civil rights campaigner Bill Russell with a posthumous award.

Previous Ripple of Hope winners have included the US vice-president, Kamala Harris, the poet Amanda Gorman, the US’s chief medical adviser, Anthony Fauci, musicians Bono and Taylor Swift, the South African politician Desmond Tutu, actor George Clooney, former presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, and the Apple CEO Tim Cook.


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