Prince Harry gave a barn-storming speech today in which he implored young people to ‘look up from your phones’ and stand up for what they believe in.
The royal was the surprise guest at Toronto’s WE Day event, part of a global day of celebration to bring young people together and make change through social good.
More than 5,000 schoolchildren were in the city’s Air Canada Centre and gave Harry a tumultuous – almost evangelical – welcome when he appeared on stage.
The prince said there was too much cynicism and apathy in the world and called for young people put aside their fears and make their voice heard.
He said: ‘In today’s world too many people feel cynical and apathetic.
Harry, who is staying in the Canadian city for the week-long Paralympic-style games, took to the stage on Thursday’s concert-style event at the the Air Canada Centre to give a ‘powerful’ speech to starstruck locals
‘I get that the challenges we face sometimes seem complex and even scary, especially when we don’t know who to turn to for answers.
‘I know that while this generation of young people wants to make our world a better place, you often struggle to get your voices heard.
‘I know that you, more than any previous generation, care deeply about the health and sustainability of the planet you’re going to inherit.
‘And I see that you’re frustrated – that entrenched mindsets – are not keeping pace with the urgency – of the threats to our environment.
‘But today you are all saying no to pessimism and cynicism. Here in Toronto – with both WE day and the Invictus Games – we are saying yes to optimism, yes to hope, and yes to belief.
‘And we are putting service and giving back at the heart of everything that we do.
Held at the Air Canada Centre, WE Day brings together a panel of speakers and A-list performers to celebrate the ‘power of service’ with the event being live-streamed around the world
‘The thousands of you gathered here are proof that today’s generation of young people is the most connected, most energised, and most confident the planet has ever known.’
Casually dressed in a blue shirt and grey chinos, the prince admitted that he was somewhat older than many in the audience, but insisted that he understood the pressures they faced and called on them to be cautious about their use of social media.
He urged: ‘You know that differences of opinion, of circumstance, of race and religion – are to be respected and celebrated.
‘You know that in a clickbait culture, we cannot waste time sharing and drawing attention to things that make us angry, or that we know to be false.
‘You all know that it’s great to “like” things on social media, but that it’s more important to look up from our phones, to get out into our communities, and to take real action; to stand up for what you believe in.’
Star power: The royal was the surprise guest at Toronto’s WE Day event, part of a global day of celebration to bring young people together and make change through social good
Toronto’s event was held in the Air Canada Centre and involved more than 5,000 school children, who all earned their place by taking part in one local and one global good cause
He said he wanted to ‘make a deal’ with the young people there and encouraged them to take the time to go up and speak to the wounded 550 plus service men and women that were in the city of his Invictus Games and asked about their stories.
He described the competitors as ‘proving to the world that great challenges can be confronted with resilience and determination, when you live by the values of service, duty and respect’.
He also said they were proof that people can succeed when we have ‘purpose in our lives’
‘If you see them around town, introduce yourselves, make some new friends, hear what they and their families have been through. Hear how they have overcome incredible challenges, and let yourselves be inspired,’ he urged.
In return, he vowed to do everything in his power to support them and create a platform ‘where your voices can be heard and your ideas taken seriously.’
He joked: ‘Sadly, I’m now part of a slightly older generation!
‘But in the years to come I want to work with you to help encourage, identify and support the new generation of leadership, both local and global leaders.
Harry, who is believed to be installed in the five-star Fairmont Royal York hotel with girlfriend Meghan Markle, made his first public appearance with the Suits star at a wheelchair tennis match on Monday.
Casually dressed in a blue shirt and grey jeans, the prince admitted that he was somewhat older than many in the audience, but insisted that he understood the pressures they faced
‘Today at WE day, you’re not surrounded by negativity. You’re not fighting on your own. You are working together, you are supporting each other. And together, you are going to change the world.’
The prince’s confidently-delivered speech was greeted with screams that roared around the stadium, louder even than some of the pop stars such as Kelly Clarkson, who had earlier spoken to the auditorium.
WE day is a worldwide day of celebration encouraging young people to make change through social good.
Toronto’s event was held in the Air Canada Centre and involved more than five thousand school children, who all earned their place by taking part in one local and one global good cause.