The Duke of Sussex has said Queen Elizabeth II “is looking down on all of us” as he spoke fondly of his late grandmother on the eve of the anniversary of her death.
Harry attended the WellChild Awards ceremony in London on Thursday night, his first appearance in the UK since June.
In a speech at the ceremony, the duke reflected on the events of 12 months ago when he was forced to miss the awards as he rushed to Balmoral in Aberdeenshire after his grandmother was taken ill.
He said: “As you know, I was unable to attend the awards last year as my grandmother passed away.
“As you also probably know, she would have been the first person to insist that I still come to be with you all instead of going to her, and that’s precisely why I know exactly one year on that she is looking down on all of us tonight, happy we’re together, continuing to spotlight such an incredible community.”
The duke, who attended without his wife Meghan, said the level of support and responsibility shown by parent carers was “unrivalled” and “proof that not all superheroes wear capes”.
But he said more work needed to be done for children with complex medical needs to ensure they spend less time in hospital.
Speaking to the award winners, he added: “Your stories energise and encourage us to want to do more everywhere we go. So just keep being you, and thanks for having me.”
Earlier, Harry cut a relaxed figure as he sat with seriously-ill children and their families during a pre-ceremony reception at The Hurlingham Club in south-west London.
The duke, a WellChild patron for 15 years, sat down with each young award winner in turn and spoke with them about their interests and hobbies.
He fist-bumped two of the boys receiving Inspirational Young Person awards – George Hall, 11, from Skipton, North Yorkshire, and Blake McCaughey, 15, from Tandragee, Co Armagh.
Blake and his family gifted Harry a green Belfast Giants ice hockey shirt, personalised with the duke’s name on the back.
Another award winner, seven-year-old Poppy Higham, from Runcorn, danced to music by Ed Sheeran in front of Harry, to which he gave warm applause.
The duke then played around with a giraffe balloon and showed Poppy its rotating head, prompting the youngster to pick it up and play with it.
Poppy, who cares for her 17-year-old sister Paige, told the PA news agency she enjoyed speaking to Harry about “my dancing, Disney and the awards”.
Her father, Daniel Higham, said: “We’re so proud of it (the award) – it’s amazing.
“She just makes our life a lot easier sometimes when it’s not going right, she just gets on with it.
“I think she just takes it in her stride.”
Harry’s appearance at the event was the first time the royal had been seen in the UK since his high-profile legal case at the High Court against Mirror Group Newspapers earlier in the year.