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.
Harry attended the WellChild Awards ceremony in London on Thursday night, his first appearance in the UK since June.
In a speech at the ceremony, the duke 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.
He said: “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.”
Earlier, Harry cut a relaxed figure as he sat with seriously-ill children and their families during a pre-ceremony reception at The Hurlingham Club in south-west London.
The duke, a WellChild patron for 15 years, sat down with each young award winner in turn and spoke with them about their interests and hobbies.
He fist-bumped two of the boys receiving Inspirational Young Person awards – George Hall, 11, from Skipton, North Yorkshire, and Blake McCaughey, 15, from Tandragee, Co Armagh.
Blake and his family gifted Harry a green Belfast Giants ice hockey shirt, personalised with the duke’s name on the back.
Another award winner, seven-year-old Poppy Higham, from Runcorn, danced to music by Ed Sheeran in front of Harry, to which he gave warm applause.
Harry’s appearance at the event was the first time the royal had been seen in the UK since his high-profile legal case at the High Court against Mirror Group Newspapers earlier in the year.