Prince Harry Rocks Tuxedo to Honor COVID-19 Researchers at 'British GQ' Men of the Year Awards

Prince Harry appeared live from his home in California on Wednesday to present the GQ Heroes of the Year award to the Oxford scientists who developed the AstraZeneca vaccine

prince harry
Photo: Dave Benett/Getty

Prince Harry was looking sharp for his surprise appearance during the 2021 British GQ Men of Year Awards, which took place in London on Wednesday.

Dressed in a black velvet tuxedo, the Duke of Sussex, 36, appeared live from his home in California to present the final award to GQ's Heroes of the Year, Professor Dame Sarah Gilbert, Dr. Catherine Green, and the entire team at Oxford who developed the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.

"I'm deeply honored to be introducing our final awardees, who you'll immediately recognize for their landmark contribution to the fight against COVID-19," Harry said in his speech. "Their breakthrough research on the Oxford Vaccine has brought the world one of our greatest tools for achieving vaccine equity."

"Until every community can access the vaccine, and until every community is connected to trustworthy information about the vaccine, then we are all at risk," he continued. "That's a common refrain my wife and I have heard in convenings with vaccine experts, heads of industry, community advocates, and global leaders."

Preparations for the Royal Wedding, Windsor, UK - 18 May 2018

Harry further called out the widespread skepticism over the vaccine, blaming the "mass-scale misinformation across news media and social media, where those who peddle in lies and fear are creating vaccine hesitancy, which in turn is dividing communities and eroding trust."

"This is a system we need to break if we are to overcome COVID-19 and the rise of new variants," he said. "The Oxford team have done their part. They are heroes of the highest order who gave us an instrument to fight this disease. They are our nation's pride, and we are deeply indebted to their service."

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Other honorees from British GQ's Men of Year Awards included Ed Sheeran, Anthony Hopkins, Quentin Tarantino, and Bridgerton star Regé-Jean Page.

The royal's appearance during the award ceremony comes weeks after he and wife Meghan Markle shared a statement on their Archewell Foundation website to address the Taliban taking hold in Afghanistan, Tropical Depression Grace hitting earthquake-stricken Haiti, and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

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"The world is exceptionally fragile right now," the couple said. "As we all feel the many layers of pain due to the situation in Afghanistan, we are left speechless. As we all watch the growing humanitarian disaster in Haiti, and the threat of it worsening after last weekend's earthquake, we are left heartbroken. And as we all witness the continuing global health crisis, exacerbated by new variants and constant misinformation, we are left scared."

"When any person or community suffers, a piece of each of us does so with them, whether we realize it or not," they continued. "And though we are not meant to live in a state of suffering, we, as a people, are being conditioned to accept it. It's easy to find ourselves feeling powerless, but we can put our values into action — together."

Harry and Meghan also encouraged followers to support organizations in need and urged leaders "to rapidly advance the humanitarian dialogues."

"As an international community, it is the decisions we make now — to alleviate suffering among those we know and those we may never meet — that will prove our humanity," they concluded.

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from the CDC, WHO and local public health departments. PEOPLE has partnered with GoFundMe to raise money for the COVID-19 Relief Fund, a fundraiser to support everything from frontline responders to families in need, as well as organizations helping communities. For more information or to donate, click here.

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