The Meghan Markle and Prince Harry You Didn't See: Notes from Backstage at Global Citizen Live

·3 min read
Global Citizen Live, New York - Prince Harry and Meghan Markle
Global Citizen Live, New York - Prince Harry and Meghan Markle

ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty

The roster for Saturday's Global Citizen Live event in Central Park may have included superstar musicians like Jennifer Lopez and Coldplay, but the impassioned words of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle also struck a chord with attendees and viewers around the world.

When the first few rows of the Central Park crowd spotted the couple waiting in the wings, the spectators got more and more excited, an observer at the gig tells PEOPLE: "For the crowd to be that energetic and attentive that early does speak to that they were wanting to hear what they wanted to say."

Watch: The Subtle Way Meghan Markle Paid Tribute to Princess Diana During Her Trip to New York City

The couple's chief priority was calling out vaccine inequity. "They are completely invested in vaccine equity. They were laser-focused that was what they wanted to deliver on. They led the charge on vaccine equity," says the source.

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The Duke and Duchess of Sussex took the opportunity to plead with pharmaceutical companies to share what Harry called the "recipe" for the vaccines.

"Guys, we have what we need to vaccinate the world," he said. "Many countries are ready to produce vaccines back home, yet they aren't allowed to because ultra-wealthy pharmaceutical companies are not sharing the recipes to make them. ... All they are waiting for is the vaccine intellectual property to be waived and the vaccine technology to be transferred over."

As big as the Sussexes' message was, one small gesture by Harry showed just how much attention listeners in the park were paying during the six-minute address. 

"When he referred to 'my wife' in his address, the crowd went crazy with screaming," shared the source adds. "He seemed shy and then he pulled her in to him. The crowd loved that."

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Harry, 37, and Meghan, 40, lingered backstage after their address and posed for photographs with other guests, including ex-NBA star Dikembe Mutombo, while mingling Global Citizen senior staffers. 

The source tells PEOPLE, "They were really warm with everyone," before the couple hopped on a golf cart used to ferry VIPs out of the event area.

This year's Global Citizen Live raised $1.1 billion worldwide in financial commitments aimed at supporting the fight for vaccine equity, tackling climate change crisis and addressing the poverty and hunger crisis in the Horn of Africa.

Watch: The Duke and Duchess of Sussex visit the One World Trade Centre in New York

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