The Sussexes made their first red carpet appearance of the year for the Salute To Freedom Gala held at Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum
A video from the arrival:
As they walked down the red carpet, a reporter took the opportunity to ask Meghan if she’s proud of her husband for presenting at the ceremony. “I’m always proud of him,” she replied.
The Sussexes laughed and joked as they were greeted on the red carpet by a welcoming party.
‘You’re from Northwestern, right?’ the duchess asked one man, referencing the university she attended, graduating in 2003 with a double major in theater and international relations.
‘How did you know that?’ he replied, laughing, and looking surprised. ‘Oh, we know something about all of you,’ she said.
The senior advisor of space programs at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, Mike Massimo paid tribute to Harry before they arrived:
Tonight’s dinner and award show is held annually to “recognize extraordinary leadership and honor the brave men and women who serve in defense of our nation,” according to the Intrepid Museum’s website.
The gala is hosted each year during New York City’s Fleet Week and is the Intrepid’s singular and most important fundraiser of the year. People come together to celebrate service – to the nation, to the communities, and to further human potential.
A peek inside
Harry last visited the museum in June 2010
Susan Marenoff-Zausner, president of the Intrepid Museum, said in a press release ahead of the gala: “We are so grateful to Prince Harry, The Duke of Sussex for honoring and amplifying the stories of these heroes and helping to raise awareness for mental health support for our men and women in uniform,”
Upon arrival The Duke and Duchess met with servicemen and veterans
Harry was introduced by Ken Fisher, CEO of Fisher House Foundation to present the inaugural Intrepid Valor Awards to five service members, veterans, and military families living with “the invisible wounds of war”.
While presenting the award he said told the audience:
‘It’s wonderful to be back on USS Intrepid a decade after my last visit – and a lot has changed since then. Just last week, I went for a ride on the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile – how’s that for living the American dream?
Thank you, Ken, for the kind introduction – My wife and I are so grateful for your ongoing partnership and we all deeply appreciate Fisher House’s longstanding commitment to military families. On any given night, 1000 families are sleeping at a Fisher House. It’s no exaggeration to say that your services are quite literally keeping families together when they need it most—so thank you!”
Reflecting on his incredible respect for those receiving awards at the gala, Harry said, “I’ve lived in the US for close to two years now. I have to say, witnessing your support for all those that put themselves in harm’s way in defense of our freedoms and liberties – it’s remarkable and hugely respected.”
He went on recalling his life in the UK, drawing comparisons between his home country and his new home in the USA. He said: “It reminds me of the deep reverence us Brits have for our military as well. The armed forces communities in both our countries share a special bond, and I’m grateful to have served in support of our joint allyship for many years.”
He also touched on his own military experience 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.”
Harry’s full speech for the Salute To Freedom Gala :
Good evening everybody, it’s wonderful to be back on USS Intrepid a decade after my last visit—and a lot has changed since then. Just last week, I went for a ride on the Oscar Mayer Weinermobile—how’s that for living the American dream! Thank you, Ken, for the kind introduction—My wife and I are so grateful for your ongoing partnership and we all deeply appreciate Fisher House’s longstanding commitment to military families. On any given night, 1000 families are sleeping at a Fisher House. It’s no exaggeration to say that your services are quite literally keeping families together when they need it most—so thank you!
Thank you, as well, to the Intrepid Museum for providing a community hub for those who have served, and to all the individuals and organisations here tonight who are dedicated to wrapping a sense of support around service members after they leave their posts. Those who serve and who have served offer so much to their communities, the wider public, and to the private sector. As far as I’m concerned, they never abandon their commitments and ethics, because the values and principles of service are ingrained in every single one of them, and any business would be lucky to have them.
Tonight, we are here to honour a group of men and women whose lives are defined by service, purpose and resilience. This night is about [the honourees].
As many of us see it, service isn’t loud. Service is what happens in the quiet and when people aren’t looking. It’s about how we take care of each other every day. It’s about the camaraderie we share…the laughs, the comfort, the pain, the challenge, and yes, the banter.
Throughout my time in the military and after, I recognised and understood that for many who have served or are still serving—it might not feel right to stand out amongst the team and be recognised. But you deserve to be—and tonight, whether you like it or not, that is what’s happening. So, soak it up!
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. 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.
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 in the same, and just as much as we aspire to be physically fit, so too we need to be mentally fit. That’s a belief I held when we pioneered HeadFit, a first-of-its-kind resource for service members and those working across UK Defence, to train their minds just like they do their bodies. That’s how we get to ultimate human performance and unlock unknown potential in every single one of us. It is a belief I still hold as I work to increase access to mental fitness tools for all people across the world with the online coaching platform BetterUp.
Many of us in this room understand why service members often feel isolated after they come home or once they leave the forces. Wouldn’t you? For years, we (and our families) orient our entire lives around the mission, the duty, the commitment, and yes—the hurry up and wait. And when we return, we long for the same feelings and contributions: self-purpose, focus, service to others, and being part of a team.
I’ve lived in the US for close to two years now. I have to say, witnessing your support for all those that put themselves in harm’s way in defence of our freedoms and liberties—it’s remarkable and hugely respected. It reminds me of the deep reverence us Brits have for our military as well. The armed forces communities in both our countries share a special bond, and I’m grateful to have served in support of our joint allyship for many years.
As we honour and reflect on Remembrance Day in the UK, which shares a date tomorrow with Veterans Day here in the US, my hope is for all of us to continue to support the wellbeing (and recognise the value of) our troops, veterans, and the entire military and service family. We and they are better for it.
I served 10-years in the military, including two tours of duty in Afghanistan—one as an FAC on the ground and in the dust with some of you, another as an Apache helicopter pilot in the air supporting and talking with you. Nothing was more valuable than the time I got to spend with my soldiers in a shell scrape, eating an MRE in the back of a tank (thanks for the swaps), flying a mission overhead knowing those below were safer, or making each other laugh when it was needed the most. 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.
But in war, you also see and experience things you hope no one else has to. These stay with us, sometimes like a slideshow of images.
That’s why I created the Invictus Games. Not only to honour the legacy of those who have given so much, but to show everyone else what we know: that the men and women who have experienced service injuries, as well as their families, are the strongest people in the world…and they deserve a platform to be seen, a platform to be recognised, and a platform to be truly celebrated.
By doing this, we can continue to be inspired by their resilience and humility.
In that same vein, tonight I am proud to be presenting the 2021 Intrepid Valour Award to the strongest people aboard this ship.
You have experienced, seen, and dealt with things that few have had to—though the crises we are increasingly experiencing as communities are not only felt by those in the military world, but by everyone.
Nevertheless, you are part of an everlasting bond. You are part of the team of teams. And we will always have your backs. You are not alone.
Now let’s hear their stories. Please welcome our honourees, one by one, to the stage.
There was also an award at the event for Jon Bon Jovi. He received the 2021 Intrepid Lifetime Achievement Award for his work as chairman of the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation.
You’ll recall that Harry and Bon Jovi worked together in 2020 at the Abbey Road Studios in London on a song called Unbroken. They helped raise funds for the Invictus Games Foundation.
The Gala took place at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum.
Showcasing the aircraft carrier USS Intrepid, the cruise missile submarine USS Growler, a Concorde SST, the museum is an American military and maritime history museum in New York City with a collection of museum ships. It is located, along the Hudson River, in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood on the West Side of Manhattan.
Founded in 1982 the museum closed in 2006 for a 1.5-year renovation of Intrepid and facilities. Those included new exhibits.
On the lower deck, there is also a reproduction of a World War I biplane.
The duchess’s outfit
It’s been a while since we’ve seen Meghan so glammed up, and she certainly did not disappoint us tonight! Her gown was designed by Carolina Herrera Creative Director Wes Gordon, and is from the forthcoming Pre-Fall 2022 Collection
I loved the plunging halter neckline, structured bodice, and dramatic layered skirt on this gown.
The house shared a sketch of Meghan’s dress on Instagram. In the caption, they explained how it was ‘designed as part of the Pre-Fall 2022 Collection by Creative Director Wes Gordon’.
She styled it with the burgundy satin pumps by Giuseppe Zanotti
She accessorized with her Birks Snowflake Snowstorm Diamond Earrings
The late Princess Diana’s Cartier diamond tennis bracelet.
And her Cartier Love bracelet
Both Meghan and Harry wore red poppy flower pins as a nod to the U.K.’s own Remembrance Day on November 11.
For those who missed it, Meghan appeared for a 30-minute panel yesterday to discuss her efforts to enforce paid family leave in America at New York Times Dealbook Online Summit. Read the blog post here
What are your thoughts about her outfit tonight?
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