Prince Harry and Rita Ora are teaming up for a special reason.
The new father, 34, left his wife Meghan Markle and their month-old son Archie at home on Tuesday night for a concert to help raise funds for Sentebale, a charity founded in 2006 by Prince Harry and Prince Seeiso of Lesotho to support young people affected by HIV and AIDS in Lesotho, Botswana and Malawi.
The concert was a celebration that blended African and Western culture. Ora, known for her hits like “How We Do (Party)” and “I Will Never Let You Down,” headlined the event at the Hampton Court Palace in London. Spoken word artist and Sentebale ambassador George the Poet (George Mpanga) also performed to an audience of 3,000 people.
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Other highlights of the evening’s line-up included 2018 Britain’s Got Talent finalists B Positive, Zulu ballet INALA, music from West End shows featuring the Soweto Gospel Choir and Morena Leraba, a musician and shepherd from Lesotho who fuses traditional Famo music with a playful mix of other genres.
Upon his arrival, the Duke of Sussex met some of the artists performing in the concert as well as two of Sentebale’s Let Youth Lead advocates.
Ora told reporters after meeting Harry, “I’m so excited, a little bit of rain never really hurts anybody. I’m just happy to be here and to be able support and try and raise as much awareness and money for such a great cause.”
Celebrities also came out to show their support, including Rosamund Pike, Tom Hardy and Vicky McClure.
Harry stepped onto the stage himself to make some remarks, thanking the crowd for helping to raise money for the charity and awareness of its work. He also thanked Sentebale’s chairman Johnny Hornby – who had gone on stage before him – for raising a third of tonight’s proceeds by running the Blenheim Palace Triathlon with a group of friends last week.
“I’m not going to take up too much of your time. I realize that you’re here to see Rita Ora and not me – especially you at the front,” he said.
“But I just wanted to echo what Johnny has already said and say an enormous thank you to every single one of you.
“We have managed to raise thousands – hundreds of thousands of pounds from this evening and every single one of you has played a part in that.
“So you have the ability to have an enormous amount of fun while knowing that you’ve changed a lot of lives in Lesotho, Botswana, and Malawi at the same time.
“As Johnny said, the conversation around HIV is still shrouded in stigma and stigma thrives on silence.
“We here tonight and we at Sentebale hope to empower the next generation to be able to end that stigma and to be confident enough to be able to talk about the virus that they have because it is no longer a death sentence.
“So again thank you for helping us to raise awareness of that fact.”
In 2016, Coldplay headlined the first-ever concert on the East Lawn of Kensington Palace (Harry’s home at the time) to benefit Sentebale.
The event also featured Grammy winner Joss Stone, the Basotho Youth Choir, George the Poet and African-Norwegian singing and songwriting duo Nico and Vinz. Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie were also in attendance, as were Peter and Autumn Phillips.
“What we know is that HIV is a virus that thrives off silence and feeds on stigma,” Harry told the crowd four years ago. “Every single one of us has a responsibility to educate ourselves. To do what we can to speak out and stamp out the silence..and fear. “We must follow the example of Lesotho and meet one of the great challenges of our generation with optimism, energy and openness.”
“That’s what tonight is about. When people come together for a purpose we can achieve extraordinary things,” he continued.
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Harry set up Sentebale with Prince Seeiso and has now widened its work from out of the mountain kingdom to Botswana and Malawi. The charity says that despite great progress made worldwide in combatting the AIDS epidemic, HIV remains one of the leading causes of death for adolescents in sub-Saharan Africa, where three out of four new HIV infections among 15-19-year-olds are among young women. Stigma is a major factor preventing youth from knowing their HIV status and accessing lifesaving treatment and care.
Prince Harry also competes in charity polo matches to raise money for the organization, including one last month in Rome, where he teamed up with professional polo pal Nacho Figueras.