Prince Harry Gives Moving Speech About Mental Health and "Scars on the Inside"

Prince Harry, who attended the Salute to Freedom Gala with Meghan Markle, delivered a heartfelt speech ahead of Veterans Day about the importance of addressing "invisible wounds."

By Lindsay Weinberg, Ryan Gajewski Nov 11, 2021 5:43 AMTags
Watch: Meghan Markle & Prince Harry Make Surprise Appearance in NYC

Prince Harry continued his long-standing focus on mental health during a speech to honor Veterans Day. 

The 37-year-old Duke of Sussex and wife Meghan Markle attended the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum's Salute to Freedom Gala in New York City on Wednesday, Nov. 10. The couple made a rare red carpet appearance for the event, where the Duchess of Sussex turned heads in a red Carolina Herrera gown.

During his speech, Harry, who was on hand to present the 2021 Intrepid Valor Awards, told the audience about the importance of service members paying attention to the type pain that isn't necessarily physical.

"I'd also like to speak briefly about something else that, until recently, has existed in the darkness: the invisible wounds that we are all susceptible to," he shared. "The scars on the inside that no one sees. For too long, invisible injuries were treated as just that—invisible—and were destined to be swept under the rug at the risk of shame, guilt or just a lack of understanding."

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Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's History-Making Moments

He continued, "Yet we now know that the mind is just like a muscle. It experiences trauma and pain, whether in conflict or at home, whether in uniform or not. It needs training…as well as recovery and care, no matter who you are and no matter what you do. Our physical health and mental health are one and the same, and just as much as we aspire to be physically fit, so too we need to be mentally fit."

Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP/Shutterstock

Harry explained that this concern is why he launched HeadFIT, a program centered on the mental well-being of military members. Harry himself rose to the rank of Captain within the British Army and served on two tours of duty in Afghanistan before retiring in 2015. 

As he told the crowd, it's understandable that "service members often feel isolated" after leaving the forces. He said that years of a mission-driven lifestyle can leave individuals longing for "self-purpose, focus, service to others and being part of a team" when they return home.

"My experience in the military made me who I am today, and I will always be grateful for the people I got to serve with—wherever in the world we were," Harry added.

Read on to see sweet photos of Harry and Meghan from the event, including shots of the couple holding hands while making their way through the museum. 

Making an Entrance

Meghan and Harry arrived to the Salute to Freedom Gala in New York, marking one of their biggest red carpet events since they were married in 2018.

Hand-in-Hand

The royal couple held hands through the museum, where Harry was on hand to present the Intrepid Valor Award to servicemen and veterans.

Second Look

The pair turned to give the camera one more look during the gala. In his speech, Harry reflected on the cause close to his heart and recounted his time in the service, saying, "My experience in the military made me who I am today, and I will always be grateful for the people I got to serve with—wherever in the world we were."

Paying Their Respects

The Duke and Duchess met with servicemen and veterans at The Intrepid Museum ahead of Veterans Day on Nov. 11.

Taking in the View

The former Suits star, wearing a red Carolina Herrera dress, stopped to admire the scenery at the A-list event.

Tied in a Bow

The back of Meghan's gown featured a flowing train and bow, seen here as she held her husband's hand on the red carpet before the gala began.

Whisked Away

Meghan and Harry went into the ceremony, where he spoke about mental health. "[The mind] experiences trauma and pain, whether in conflict or at home, whether in uniform or not," he shared. "It needs training, as well as recovery and care, no matter who you are and no matter what you do. Our physical health and mental health are one [and] the same, and just as much as we aspire to be physically fit, so too we need to be mentally fit."

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