UK's Meghan, Harry ask for COVID vaccine donations to mark son Archie's birthday

Britain's Prince Harry and his wife, Duchess Meghan with their son Archie
Britain's Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex holding their son Archie, meet Archbishop Desmond Tutu (not pictured) at the Desmond & Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation in Cape Town, South Africa, September 25, 2019. REUTERS/Toby Melville

LONDON, May 6 (Reuters) - Britain's Prince Harry and his wife Meghan marked the second birthday of their son Archie on Thursday by calling for donations to help provide COVID-19 vaccines to the world's most vulnerable.

The couple, who now live in California after they left Britain and stepped away from their royal duties last year, said they could not think "of a more resonant way to honor our son’s birthday" than with a $5 donation.

"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," Harry and Meghan wrote on their website, saying currently 80% of the 1 billion COVID shots so far administered had been in wealthier countries.

"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."

The British royals often mark their birthdays by releasing new pictures, and last year the couple released a video in which Meghan was reading Archie, the seventh-in-line to the British throne, a story.

However, this year they eschewed that tradition as they have many royal customs since seeking new financially-independent lives in the United States, although the other senior members of the family sent customary birthday messages by Twitter.

"Wishing Archie Mountbatten-Windsor a very happy 2nd birthday today," said a message posted on Queen Elizabeth's account, with similar good wishes following from Archie's grandfather, heir-to-the-throne Prince Charles, and his uncle and aunt, Prince William and wife Kate.

Archie unwittingly became a focal point of the deterioration in the relationship between Harry, the 95-year-old monarch's grandson, and the rest of the family after they quit their royal roles.

During an interview with Oprah Winfrey in March, Meghan, 39, whose mother is Black and father is white, said one unnamed royal had asked how dark Archie’s skin might be before he was born.

The allegation prompted William to deny that the Windsors were racist, while the queen put out a statement saying the issues raised on race were concerning but that "some recollections may vary".

Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex who is pregnant with the couple's second child, said on Tuesday that Archie and Harry were the inspiration for a new children's book she wrote that will be published next month.

"The Bench started as a poem I wrote for my husband on Father's Day, the month after Archie was born. That poem became this story," she said in a statement.

Reporting by Michael Holden; Editing by Alistair Smout

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