Prince Harry held back tears as he spoke at an awards ceremony about what fatherhood has come to mean to him since the arrival of his first son, Archie.

Speaking at the WellChild Awards in London, which celebrates health professionals who go above and beyond to help seriously ill children, Harry had to step back from the microphone.

Leaning on the lectern, head bowed, he shared that at last year's ceremony Meghan was pregnant with baby Archie.

"… Last year when my wife and I attended we knew that we were going to have a child, no one else knew but we did."

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Awards host Gaby Roslin stepped up to comfort Harry as an audible "Aw" came from the crowd followed by a round of applause.

The Prince, 35, regained composure and told the audience: "I remember squeezing Meghan's hand so tight ... when both of us were thinking what it would be like to be parents one day. And more so to do everything we could to protect and help our child, should they be born with immediate challenges or become unwell."

Archie Mountbatten Windsor is the first son of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Photo / Getty Images
Archie Mountbatten Windsor is the first son of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Photo / Getty Images

Harry became Patron of WellChild in 2007 and has attended the awards, which also celebrate the tenacity and endurance of children living with illnesses, for over a decade.

"They never fail to inspire me – but this year it resonates in a different way as now I'm a father," he said.

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The couple were presented with gifts for Archie at a pre-ceremony reception, where they met the winners of each award and their families, as well as the medical professionals and carers who had been nominated.

The Duke of Sussex also presented the Award for the Most Inspirational Child.

Harry and Meghan had chosen to pass on donations they received after Archie's birth in May this year to WellChild, as well as three other charities.

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WellChild supports sick children and their families through in-home care and family support programmes, including home makeover initiatives. They do this through WellChild Children's Nurses who work across the UK.

Thousands of young children in the UK are living with severe health conditions and need support day and night, which parents can find exhausting.

The Duke and Duchess attended the event soon after their 10-day royal tour of Africa came to a close. The visit included stops in Angola, Cape Town, Botswana and Malawi.
The ceremony was livestreamed on the Facebook page for the awards.