The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, paid tribute to the late Desmond Tutu, who passed away on Sunday, December 26, at the age of 90. Although his cause of death has yet to be disclosed, Tutu was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1997 and had been hospitalized several times over the past few years to treat infections caused by his cancer treatments.
Archbishop Demond Tutu had received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 for his non-violent opposition to apartheid in South Africa. Over a decade later, Tutu chaired the Truth and Reconciliation Commission with the purpose of making the public aware of the atrocious committed during the apartheid regime. In 2009, Tutu visited the White House, where he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from then-President Barack Obama.
On Sunday, Obama tweeted, “Archbishop Desmond Tutu was a mentor, a friend, and a moral compass for me and so many others. A universal spirit, Archbishop Tutu was grounded in the struggle for liberation and justice in his own country, but also concerned with injustice everywhere.”
Duke And Duchess Of Sussex Pay Tribute To Late Desmond Tutu
The couple had previously introduced their young 5-month-old son Archie to the Nobel Prize Laureate during the couple’s royal tour of South Africa in September 2019. There, they met with Tutu and his daughter, Thandeka Tutu-Gxashe. The couple shared some sweet snaps of Archie’s first official public engagement on their Instagram page.
After the meeting, the couple posted one shot of their son with the caption, “Thank you Archbishop Tutu for your incredibly warm hospitality, Archie loved meeting you!”
Shortly after his passing, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex released a joint statement, saying, “Archbishop Tutu will be remembered for his optimism, his moral clarity, and his joyful spirit.”
“He was an icon for racial justice and beloved across the world,” they continued. “It was only two years ago that he held our son, Archie, while we were in South Africa – ‘Arch and The Arch’ he had joked, his infectious laughter ringing through the room, relaxing anyone in his presence.”
“He remained a friend and will be sorely missed by all,” they added.
Prince Harry had met Archbishop Tutu once before. In November 2015, Prince Harry traveled to South Africa to present Tutu with an honor in recognition of his services to communities in the United Kingdom and International Peace.
South Africa’s President Pays Respects To The Late Tutu
President Cyril Ramaphosa gave a lengthy speech addressing Tutu’s passing, saying, “The passing of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu is another chapter of bereavement in our nation’s farewell to a generation of outstanding South Africans who have bequeathed us a liberated South Africa.”
“Desmond Tutu was a patriot without equal,” he added. “A leader of principle and pragmatism who gave meaning to the biblical insight that faith without works is dead.”
“A man of extraordinary intellect, integrity, and invincibility against the forces of apartheid, he was also tender and vulnerable in his compassion for those who had suffered oppression, injustice, and violence under apartheid, and oppressed and downtrodden people around the world,” he continued.
“From the pavements of resistance in South Africa to the pulpits of the world’s great cathedrals and places of worship, and the prestigious setting of the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony, the Arch distinguished himself as a non-sectarian, inclusive champion of universal human rights,” he added, concluding, “We pray that Archbishop Tutu’s soul will rest in peace but that his spirit will stand sentry over the future of our nation.”