The WellChild Awards are a highlight on Prince Harry's calendar each year. A patron since 2007, the royal relishes the time he gets to spend with the severely ill children honoured for their courage and determination, and this year he had his wife Meghan Markle by his side. The couple attended the star-studded event on Tuesday (Sept. 4), where the prince handed out the Most Inspirational Child award and made a speech, but first they spent some quality time with seven-year-old Matilda Booth - who says the duke had her make a very special "pinky promise," as reported by HELLO!.
Matilda, who has Spina Bifida and has undergone more than 40 operations, told the Duke and Duchess of Sussex that she'd like to be a nurse when she grows up. She also gave Meghan a bouquet of white roses, who pulled out one of the blooms and handed it back to the little girl, telling her to put it in her memory box. Prince Harry then locked pinkies with the award winner, asking her to "pinky promise" that she'll never stop smiling.
The royal pair shared special moments with a number of other children on hand at the awards. Four-year-old McKenzie Brackley, who suffered from Acute Flaccid Paralysis which left him having to relearn how to eat, swallow and speak, bonded with the pair over their shared dislike of all the flashing cameras. Harry and Meghan also spent some time with Jacob Granger, 17, who cares for his little sister Melissa. Despite having Angelman Syndrome, her brother helped her learn to crawl and then walk. They also chatted Disney movies with 10-year-old Chloe Henderson, who has managed to become a dancer despite having cerebral palsy, among many other inspirational youngsters.
Prince Harry gave a heartfelt speech, thanking the parents and siblings of the children nominated for awards as well as the devoted nurses and volunteers who help to make it possible for them to live at home, before moving onto the kids themselves. "And I want to acknowledge the young people who have been dealt the toughest cards imaginable - but who persevere, rise above, and set the example of living life to the fullest. In fact, you are often the ones who lift us up - your 'can-do' attitude and unwavering spirit serves as a constant reminder that we must always look to the positive and never give up."
This was the second time in the past week that Prince Harry and Meghan have stepped out for a cause close to their hearts. Last Thursday, they attended a gala performance of Hamilton in London's West End alongside creator Lin-Manuel Miranda. The event also benefitted children, in particular those helped by Prince Harry's Sentebale charity, which works to support children and their families in Lesotho and Botswana who are affected by AIDS and HIV.