Monday, May 07, 2012

An Affair to Remember.......

Frederick Kempe and Prince Harry

by senior contributor Brendan Kownacki
Video photo credit: Neshan H. Naltchayan

It was an affair fit for a King... er.... a Prince, when the Atlantic Council held its annual awards dinner at the Ritz-Carlton on Monday evening, honoring among others, HRH Prince Henry of Wales and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

The council, which is marking its 50th year, has been a steadfast force of support for issues ranging from global financial stability to fighting violent extremism. 
The awards dinner, which invites leaders from the USA and around the world, has been a premiere event in DC each year. Past honorees have included Presidents Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush, UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, and U2 lead singer Bono.

This year's honorees are equally diverse and also featured Unilever CEO Paul Polman, the Enlisted Men and Women of the United States Armed Forces, and German violin master Anne-Sophie Mutter.

Ban Ki-moon received the Distinguished International Leadership Award for his ability to drive global leaders on critical issues. "If I were to speak like an economist, I might say we have an over-supply of problems —and a deficit of solutions. A deficit of leadership." He said, reflecting on the honor

But it was Harry causing the big stir for the evening. Flocks of girls (young and old) lined the streets leading to the Ritz, all hoping to catch a glance of the young Prince. The crowd squealed as he stepped from his car, but the Prince was unphased. This is actually Harry's first time being in Washington DC and he was all business, turning away from the press as he walked inside, stopping only briefly to greet Frederick Kempe, President and CEO of the Atlantic Council.

Harry is being honored with the Distinguished Humanitarian Leadership Award for the work of the foundation he started with his brother. The Foundation of Prince William and Prince Harry helps to rehabilitate wounded servicemen and prepare them for the challenges of rejoining civilian life. General Colin Powell introduced Harry, joking (maybe not)"We have a record number of young, single women in attendance," but he then went on to praise the Prince for his military service and for "leading by example."

"This isn't daunting at all," quirked Harry as he unfolded his speaking notes. He was soft-spoken but direct in saying that he was accepting the award on behalf of his brother, and all who work for veterans, but mostly "for the guys, this is their award."
He easily commanded the attention of the room and said that we need to keep our attention on wounded warriors, long past the time when they stop making headlines. "These people, ours and yours are extraordinary."

Washington welcomes HRH Prince Harry
Photos by Neshan H. Naltchayan