Prince Harry joined pop royalty Rihanna on World AIDS Day Thursday—and made a powerful statement on HIV.
The pair were in Rihanna’s native Barbados together, where they are celebrating the country’s 50th anniversary of independence. On Thursday, they turned the spotlight on the fight against AIDS by undergoing an HIV finger-prick test “to show how easy it is to be tested for HIV,” Kensington Palace announced.
Today’s event follows Harry’s ongoing efforts to tackle the stigma of HIV—and it’s the second time this year he has publicly tested himself to de-stigmatize the issue.
The royal, 32, and Rihanna, 28, took their tests in the center of Bridgetown, where they met volunteers manning the stands and the stalls, including a barber’s shop and a condom corner.
The country’s National HIV/AIDS program says men are at significantly higher risk: They are more likely to be diagnosed late with HIV compared to women and are also more likely to die from AIDS-related illnesses. Local campaigners are working to encourage men to get tested and talk more openly about the disease.
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It was Harry and Rihanna’s third meeting in 24 hours. On Wednesday, after their first encounter, the two shared a stage—and plenty of smiles—again as they celebrated her homeland’s independence last night.
At the evening of entertainment, which was topped off by a spectacular fireworks display, Rihanna led the singing of the national anthem, while Harry helped unveil the official monument to independence and gave a speech saying he was “honored” to represent his grandmother Queen Elizabeth “as we celebrate the historic milestone of 50 years of independence of this beautiful nation.”
The Queen visited the country on the eve of independence in 1966. “The people of Barbados have held a special place in her heart ever since. Your independence of was a declaration of confidence in the future,” he said. “And 50 years on Barbados is a country rightfully proud of its vibrant culture, its sporting prowess and its natural beauty.”
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Harry had not expected to meet Rihanna until the concert, but it then emerged that the singer was going to be at an earlier afternoon event called Toast to the Nation, too. There, they broke the ice, and Harry—who was wearing his medals and his insignia as a Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order around his neck—said a simple, “Hello, it’s very nice to meet you.” She was seated at a neighboring table.
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Earlier in the day, Harry had made a previously-unscheduled stop at the Queen Elizabeth hospital which he had last visited in 2010. There, he went to the pediatric ward and served up his signature hugs.