• Prince Harry and Meghan Markle appeared on stage at the NAACP Image Awards Saturday to accept the President's Award
  • The couple was recognized for their support for efforts to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic and for the Black Lives Matter movement
  • Prince Harry said he and Markle share "a commitment to a life of service and "a responsibility to combat injustice"

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle accepted the President's Award at the 53rd annual National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Image Awards Saturday.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex were recognized with the honor for their efforts to help young people living with HIV/AIDS, their paid leave advocacy and their efforts to create relief centers for communities in need.

Prince Harry and Markle, through their charity Archewell Foundation, also supported COVID-19 vaccine accessibility during the pandemic as well as the Black Lives Matter movement and the fight for racial justice.

The royal couple accepted the award together on stage during the Saturday ceremony. They wore ensembles by Black designers, with Markle sporting a sapphire-blue, goddess-style dress by Christopher John Rogers that featured a knee-high slit and a baby-blue sash that extended to a train and Prince Harry looking dapper in a black tuxedo by Ozwald Boateng, People reported.

Markle began their joint speech by saying, "It's inspiring to think about the legacy of the Image Awards, which began shortly after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 were passed into law," according to the outlet.

"Today, we can continue that legacy by re-establishing federal voting protections in our country and fulfilling the work of civil rights giants, like the late John Lewis," she continued. "We are so deeply humbled to be here in the company of so many illustrious awardees."

Prince Harry then acknowledged the people of Ukraine who need support during this time and expressed his gratitude for the recognition.

"I think it's safe to say that I come from a very different background from my incredible wife, yet our lives were brought together for a reason. We share a commitment to a life of service, a responsibility to combat injustice and a belief that the most often overlooked are the most important to listen to," he added.

Markle went on to say that she "couldn't be prouder" of the work they are doing together.

Addressing the murder of George Floyd, the duchess remarked how "for Black America, those nine minutes and twenty-nine seconds transcended time, invoking centuries of unhealed wounds. In the months that followed, as my husband and I spoke with the civil rights community, we committed ourselves and our organization, Archewell, to illuminating those who are advancing racial justice and progress."

Markle and Prince Harry also highlighted in their speech Dr. Safiya Noble, the first recipient of the NAACP Archwell Digital Civil Rights Award. The couple had teamed up with the NAACP on the new annual award, which recognizes leaders creating transformational change — at the intersection of social justice and technology — to advance civil and human rights.

After once more expressing gratitude for the honor, Markle, who brought her mom Doria Ragland to the awards show, ended the couple's speech on a personal note, adding, "My mom's here with us tonight, and we all feel very proud. Thank you."

Past recipients of the NAACP President's Award include Muhammad Ali, Jesse Jackson, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, LeBron James and Rihanna.

The awards show appearance marks Prince Harry and Markle's first major Hollywood moment since quitting royal duties and moving to California in 2020.

Other attendees at this year's NAACP Image Awards included Zendaya, Mary J. Blige, Michael Strahan, Tiffany Haddish, Questlove, Morgan Freeman, Kerry Washington and more.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 10: Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex attend the 2021 Salute To Freedom Gala at Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum on November 10, 2021 in New York City. Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images