The 100 Most Influential People of 2021
By José Andrés
September 15, 2021 7:15 AM EDT

There’s a famous TV interview of Harry, the Duke of Sussex, when he was an Apache helicopter gunner a few years ago. He’s sitting close to an airfield in Afghanistan, commenting on some royal news, when there’s a bang and a group of soldiers scramble behind him.

In one swift motion, he stands up, rips off his microphone and runs toward the action.

That same sense of urgency drives Meghan, now the Duchess of Sussex, who has long been an active humanitarian and a powerful advocate for women and girls around the world. “This type of work is what feeds my soul,” she wrote in a 2016 essay. Springing into action is not the easy choice for a young duke and duchess who have been blessed through birth and talent, and burned by fame. It would be much safer to enjoy their good fortune and stay silent.

That’s not what Harry and Meghan do, or who they are. They turn compassion into boots on the ground through their Archewell Foundation. They give voice to the voiceless through media production. Hand in hand with nonprofit partners, they take risks to help communities in need—offering mental-health support to Black women and girls in the U.S., and feeding those affected by natural disasters in India and the Caribbean.

In a world where everyone has an opinion about people they don’t know, the duke and duchess have compassion for the people they don’t know. They don’t just opine. They run toward the struggle.

Andrés is a chef and the founder of World Central Kitchen

Pari Dukovic for TIME

Get a print of the 2021 TIME100 cover featuring Prince Harry and Meghan here

Wardrobe for the Duke of Sussex by Clare Hallworth, Wardrobe for the Duchess of Sussex by Nina Hallworth, assisted by Jane Hallworth; Hair by Serge Normant; Make-up by Linda Hay; Production by Circadian Pictures

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