Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, are marking their son's second birthday with a call for equitable distribution of the COVID-19 vaccines in countries across the world.
The royal couple invited people to donate what they can to help cover the cost for people in need of the vaccine in honor of son Archie's birthday on Thursday.
"This year, our world continues to be on the path to recovery from COVID-19. Yet too many families are still struggling with the impact of this pandemic," they wrote in a message on their Archewell website. "While some places are on the verge of healing, in so many parts of the world, communities continue to suffer. As of today, around 80 percent of the nearly one billion COVID-19 vaccine shots that have been given were administered in wealthier countries. While we may feel that normalcy is around the corner, we remind ourselves that in much of the world, and especially in developing countries, vaccine distribution has effectively yet to start."
The Biden administration said Wednesday that it would support waiving patent protections for the vaccines as cases surge in India and other countries. Health experts have warned that the pandemic could be prolonged worldwide and more mutated strains could emerge if vaccination inequality persists in less wealthy nations.
"We will not be able to truly recover until everyone, everywhere, has equal access to the vaccine," Harry and Meghan wrote. "And with that intention, we are inviting you to contribute whatever you can — if you have the means to do so — to bring vaccines to families in the world’s most vulnerable places."
They noted that many of their supporters donated to charities on Archie's behalf for his birthday last year, so they hope to continue that spirit of giving for his second birthday.
"We have been deeply touched over the past two years to feel the warmth and support for our family in honor of Archie’s birthday," they wrote. "Many of you donate to charities on his behalf, and mark the occasion by giving back or doing an act of service — all through the goodness of your hearts. You raise funds for those who need it most, and continue to do so organically and selflessly. We remain incredibly grateful."
The couple wrote that $5 can cover the cost of four doses thanks to matching donations from several organizations. Archewell has partnered with Global Citizen and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, to help get the vaccine to people in all parts of the world.
"We cannot think of a more resonant way to honor our son’s birthday," they wrote. "If we all show up, with compassion for those we both know and don’t know, we can have a profound impact. Even a small contribution can have a ripple effect.
"Together, we can uplift, protect, and care for one another."
Archie's big day also included well wishes from the royal family, with Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Charles, and Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, wishing him a happy birthday.
Archie has also helped inspire Meghan's first children's book, "The Bench," which she said came from a poem she wrote for Harry on Father's Day after being inspired by his sweet relationship with their son.