Meghan and Harry sign letter criticising Britain over covid jabs

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry slam British Government for ‘self-defeating nationalism, pharmaceutical monopolies and inequality’ they say is behind failure to vaccinate poor countries against Covid

  • Duke and Duchess of Sussex want big pharma and ‘rich’ nations to waive rights on jabs to help Asia and Africa 
  • Archewell Foundation joined The People’s Vaccine and signed letter with Charlize Theron and Ban Ki-Moon
  • Blame ‘self-defeating nationalism, pharmaceutical monopolies and inequality’ for world not being vaccinated
  • Attack on UK came after Harry started legal action over decision to strip back his UK-paid police protection
  • Sussexes have also spoken out about Ukraine, Afghanistan and US politics since they quit as senior royals

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle today signed an open letter accusing the UK and ‘rich’ neighbours of pursuing ‘self-defeating nationalism’ to deny African and Asian countries the right to make their own Covid-19 vaccines.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are campaigning for Britain to work with pharmaceutical companies to waive intellectual property rights on the life-saving jabs in the latest flashpoint between Harry and his home country.  

In an open letter published this afternoon, Meghan, Harry and other signatories warned ‘the pandemic is not over’, and blamed ‘self-defeating nationalism, pharmaceutical monopolies and inequality’ for the entire world not being vaccinated by now.

The UK has vowed to donate 100million coronavirus vaccine doses within the next year to low-income countries as part of at least 1billion doses due from the G7.  There have been a number of African countries, including Nigeria, where more than one million doses were destroyed last year because they expired after low uptake saw just two per cent of the population fully vaccinated in 2021. 

In December experts said up to one third of Africa’s Covid vaccine deliveries remain in storage as rollouts are hindered by jab hesitancy and infrastructure problems.

The Sussexes have repeatedly called for global vaccine equity, comparing it to the HIV crisis in 1980s and 1990s, and today their Archewell Foundation joined The People’s Vaccine coalition, a group of 90 famous names and organisations demanding vaccines are ‘freely available to everyone, everywhere’.

The couple have today said that ‘world leaders’ and ‘rich nations’ now ‘have the responsibility to change the situation’ in a letter also signed by Charlize Theron and Ban Ki-Moon.

Their letter says: ‘The European Union, the United Kingdom and Switzerland continue to block the lifting of intellectual property rules which would enable the distribution and scale-up of Covid-19 vaccines, test and treatment facilities in the global south.

‘The transfer of largely publicly funded vaccine technology and know-how from pharmaceutical corporations would fast track production to a matter of months. Yet still today, a handful of these corporations retain the power to dictate vaccine supply, distribution and price – and the power to decide who lives and who dies’.  

Despite their stance, critics pointed out that recently the ‘ethical’ Wall Street investment company backed by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex ploughed millions into pharmaceutical companies that develop Covid-19 jabs – despite their calls for vaccine makers to share their research and recipes. And last year they announced a partnership with Procter & Gamble, the US pharma and consumer goods corporation.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle accept the President’s Award at the 53rd NAACP awards in LA last month and today have signed a letter calling for vaccine equity and slamming the UK and EU

Today their Archewell Foundation joined The People’s Vaccine coalition, a group of 90 famous names and organisations demanding vaccines are ‘freely available to everyone, everywhere’

The group said they are ‘proud’ to have Harry and Meghan among their famous supporters

People’s Vaccine launched a campaign on World Aids Day and the group can now count on the support of the Sussexes

The couple’s attack on the British government, the EU and Switzerland came a fortnight after Harry took the Home Office to the High Court over taxpayer funded police protection when he and his family is in the UK. Lawyers for the duke said he now did not feel safe to visit Britain, or to bring his family from their home in the US. 

The duke has also taken aim at his own British family since he and Meghan emigrated after quitting as senior working royals in early 2020. They live in a £11million Montecito mansion in California.   

The People’s Vaccine coalition said today: ‘We are proud to welcome Archewell Foundation to the Alliance and appreciate their support, alongside Prince Harry and Meghan, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex. 

rince Harry and Meghan Markle speak during the 2021 Global Citizen Live festival at the Great Lawn, Central Park, about vaccine equity

‘We will work together to end vaccine inequity and ensure COVID-19 vaccines, treatments and tests are available to everyone’.

It came days after Harry spoke of his ‘commitment to a life of service’ as he accepted an award alongside Hollywood A-listers.

The Duke of Sussex and wife Meghan accepted the award from a US civil rights group for their work helping a Texas women’s shelter, promoting Covid vaccines and creating community relief centres in areas affected by the pandemic and natural disasters.

Harry, 37, praised his ‘incredible wife’ as the couple urged the global community to support the people of Ukraine.

He said: ‘It’s safe to say that I come from a very different background than my incredible wife, yet our lives were brought together for a reason.

‘We share a commitment to a life of service, a responsibility to confront injustice and a belief that the most often overlooked are the most important to listen to.’ Meghan, 40, said the couple were committed to ‘illuminating those who are advancing racial justice and progress’.

She added: ‘I couldn’t be prouder that we’re doing this work together.’ The former actress said she and Harry had moved to the US shortly before the murder of George Floyd, which prompted the Black Lives Matter protests.

She said: ‘For black America, those nine minutes and 29 seconds transcended time, invoking centuries of our unhealed wounds.

‘In the months that followed, as my husband and I spoke with the civil rights community, we committed ourselves and our organisation, Archewell, to illuminating those who are advancing racial justice and progress.’

The Sussexes have regularly spoken out over major issues and global conflict since stepping down as senior members of the Royal Family in early 2020 and leaving Britain to start a new life in California, where former actress Meghan is originally from.

After moving to the US, they were accused of wading into the American presidential election when they urged voters to ‘reject hate speech’ in a message widely interpreted as an attack on Donald Trump and tacit support for Joe Biden’s campaign.

And last August the ‘heartbroken’ Sussexes said the Taliban’s advance in Afghanistan left them ‘speechless’ in a long statement – but they were slammed for ‘another attempt to form an alternate woke royal family’.

Also, social media users at the time branded their statement ‘vague publicity seeking word salad’ and said it was ‘irrelevant’ because it did not mention how they personally would be helping in the Afghan crisis.

Pictured: Our World in Data stats shows the percentage of nations’ population that has been fully vaccinated in 2021

And last December, Harry warned of ‘corporate greed and political failure’ prolonging the pandemic. He said: ‘In the early 2000s, a wave of activism helped break drug company monopolies, giving millions of people access to generic medicines at a fraction of the price.’

And he continued: ‘By ending vaccine monopolies and sharing technology, companies in the developing world can start producing Covid vaccines too.’

The video concluded with Harry and Ms Byanyima saying: ‘Break the monopolies, share the know-how, deliver a people’s vaccine.’

Meanwhile Harry also wrote a letter to Mr Ghebreyesus and Ms Byanyima, saying how ‘deeply grateful’ Diana would have been for their achievements.

The letter was read out by the WHO’s director of global HIV, hepatitis and STIs programmes Dr Meg Doherty at the WHO and UNAids event.

Harry wrote: ‘On this World Aids Day we recognise the 40 years that have shaped life for many.

‘We honour those whose lives have been cut short and reaffirm our commitment to a scientific community that has worked tirelessly against this disease.

‘My mother would be deeply grateful for everything you stand for and have accomplished. We all share that gratitude, so thank you.’

He said there had been a ‘spectacular failure’ over coronavirus vaccine equity.

‘Vaccinating the world is a test of our moral character and we are experiencing a spectacular failure when it comes to global vaccine equity,’ Harry wrote.

‘Similar to the Aids crisis, we’ve yet again revealed over the past year that the value of life depends on whether you were born and/or live in a rich nation, or a developing country.’

Harry described the emergence of the Omicron variant as of ‘deep concern’.

‘Now more than ever, the voiceless majority of the world needs to be heard and the onus is on our leaders to end this pandemic,’ he wrote.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex condemned the Russian invasion, in a statement published on their Archewell website a fortnight ago

The Duke warned that repeating the failures surrounding the Aids epidemic would be a ‘betrayal of the next generation’.

He said: ‘It’s time to draw from the lessons we learned throughout the HIV/Aids pandemic, where millions died unnecessarily due to deep inequities in access to treatment.

‘Are we really comfortable repeating the failures of the past? Everything I’ve learnt, from the youth of Sentebale, tells me not.

‘They see how repeating these mistakes is destructive and self-defeating, it is a betrayal of the next generation.

‘Let’s spend today celebrating and building on the work of champions who turned what was once a death sentence into a manageable condition.

‘Let’s spend tomorrow continuing our efforts to save lives and make a difference.’  

Harry was filmed speaking in New York in September, saying: ‘Many of these vaccines were publicly funded, they are your vaccines – you paid for them.’

The Duke had been at Global Citizen Live, an event which urged leaders to adopt a vaccine equity policy, at which he labelled pandemic a ‘human rights crisis’

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