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Prince Harry says late Queen ‘looking down on all of us’ as he marks first anniversary of her death

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

The Duke of Sussex said Queen Elizabeth II “is looking down on all of us” as he spoke fondly of his late grandmother on the eve of the anniversary of her death.

In a speech at the WellChild Awards ceremony in London on Thursday evening, Prince Harry reflected on the events of 12 months ago when he was forced to miss the awards as he rushed to Balmoral in Aberdeenshire after his grandmother was taken ill.

The duke, a WellChild patron for 15 years, told the audience: “As you know, I was unable to attend the awards last year as my grandmother passed away.

“As you also probably know, she would have been the first person to insist that I still come to be with you all instead of going to her, and that’s precisely why I know exactly one year on that she is looking down on all of us tonight, happy we’re together, continuing to spotlight such an incredible community.”

The UK’s longest-serving monarch died on September 8 last year, aged 96, after reigning for 70 years.

The event was Harry’s first appearance in the UK since June.

On Friday the nation will mark the first anniversary since the Queen’s death.

Rishi Sunak paid tribute to the late Queen, praising her “incredible warmth”, wisdom and grace.

The Prime Minister said gratitude for her service and “extraordinary life of duty and dedication” continues to grow, a year on from her death aged 96.

He said he treasured his memories of meeting the then-monarch, particularly his private audience before presenting his first Budget as chancellor in 2020.

He was not in office at the time of the late Queen’s death, having lost the Tory leadership contest to Liz Truss who became prime minister at Balmoral in the monarch’s final official engagement, just two days before her death.

Mr Sunak said that “on the solemn anniversary” of her death “our thoughts are with His Majesty King Charles III and the whole royal family”.

He said: “With the perspective of a year, the scale of Her Late Majesty’s service only seems greater. Her devotion to the nations of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth only seems deeper.

“And our gratitude for such an extraordinary life of duty and dedication only continues to grow.

“I treasure my memories of those occasions when I met Her Late Majesty, in particular the private audience I had with her at Buckingham Palace before presenting my first Budget as chancellor.

“I was struck by her wisdom, by her incredible warmth and grace, but also her sharp wit.

“People across the UK - whether they had the good fortune to meet Her Late Majesty or not - will be reflecting today on what she meant to them and the example she set for us all. We will cherish those memories.”

Mr Sunak said the “sacred” bond between the country and the monarch endures under the King.

“So, while we continue to mourn Her Late Majesty’s passing, we should be proud that this remarkable legacy of service - and this remarkable bond - continues to grow today under the reign of His Majesty The King.”

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said the queues to see the late Queen lying in state showed she "always enjoyed a special bond with her people".

"It was a relationship built from her understanding that service of this great nation is the thread that unites sovereign and subject," he said.

"So, as we reflect on her legacy again today, let us embrace that spirit of public service as our guide towards a better future."

Queen Elizabeth II died after reigning for more than 70 years, making her the longest-reigning monarch in British history.

The late Queen symbolised the stability of the nation, and most people had known no other monarch on the British throne.

Fears for her health dramatically escalated on September 8, 2022 when Buckingham Palace announced the monarch was under medical supervision at her Aberdeenshire residence and her doctors were concerned.

Over the next 11 days following her death, the London Bridge plans in the event of the sovereign’s death were meticulously put into place.

Queen Elizabeth II was honoured with processions, vigils, a lying in state, a grand state funeral in Westminster Abbey and a poignant committal service in Windsor.

One million people are estimated to have attended the public funeral procession in London.

The Queen’s state funeral on September 19 cost the Government £161.7 million. It was the first state funeral since Sir Winston Churchill’s in 1965.