LE QUANG NHAT/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- One of the passengers who used a stolen passport to board the missing Malaysia Airlines passenger jet was a black man, a Malaysian official indicated on Monday.
The investigation into Friday's disappearance of the jetliner with 239 passengers and crew members has centered so far around the fact that two passengers used passports stolen from an Austrian and an Italian. The plane which left Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, was headed for Beijing.
On Monday, Malaysia's Civil Aviation Chief Azaharuddin Abdul Rahman said officials had reviewed surveillance tape of the plane's boarding "from check-in right to departure."
"I can confirm that all security protocols had been complied with," he said.
When asked about the two men who used the stolen passports, Rahman replied, "We confirmed now they are not Asian looking males."
When pressed to describe them, he said, "Do you know a footballer by the name of Bartoli? Do you know what he looks like?"
Reporters corrected him asking, "Mario Balotelli?" and asked whether the man with the stolen passport was black. Balotelli, who is black, is an Italian soccer player.
"Yes," Rahman replied.
Rahman refused to further describe the two men.
Rahman also indicated that investigators were not any closer to determining what happened to the Boeing 777 jet or where the plane was. Samples from an oil slick off the southern coast of Vietnam determined it was not from the plane.
And Vietnam’s National Committee for Search and Rescue told ABC New that an orange object spotted floating in the ocean over the weekend originally thought to be a life raft from the plane had nothing to do with the plane wreckage.
During an earlier press briefing Monday, a reporter asked Malaysia's Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein about reports that a media personality received an open letter from the leader of Chinese Martyr Brigade claiming responsibility for the incident.
When asked about the letter, a Malaysian official said, "Yes, there is sound ground to say it is true, but again, we have said from the beginning that we are not taking anything for granted."
But at the later news conference, Rahman said, "We don’t know what happened to the aircraft, so we cannot speculate... We cannot do guess work."
He said the search area was being expanded to include an additional expanse of ocean as well as land at the northern tip of Malaysia. The search grid was divided into boxes with individual ships assigned to each box. He said planes would resume crisscrossing the search grid for signs of the plane at daybreak.
Dozens of aircraft and ships have contributed to the search, including crews from Vietnam, China, Singapore, Indonesia, the United States, Thailand, Australia and the Philippines, Rahman said at a press conference Monday.
The U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet is using a P-3C Orion marine surveillance aircraft to search in the northern section of the Strait of Malacca Monday, according to the group’s Facebook page.
Theana Breugem/Foto24/Gallo Images - PoolGetty Images(PRETORIA, South Africa) -- Oscar Pistorius became so upset Monday while listening to a pathologist graphically describe the bullet wounds he inflicted on his slain girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp that the Blade Runner vomited in court.
Pistorius sat heaving, vomiting and squirming in the dock as pathologist Dr. Gert Saayman testified about the state of Steenkamp's body when he performed the autopsy.
The evidence Saayman gave was deemed to be so graphic that the court ruled that it may not be broadcast. Justice Thokozile Masipa felt so strongly about the matter that she prohibited tweets and blogging from the court room, too.
Saayman's description of the gunshot wounds visibly upset Pistorius who started vomiting into a bucket given to him earlier Monday. The court stood down for a brief adjournment to give Pistorius time to compose himself, but when it resumed, Pistorius' lawyer Barry Roux indicated that he wanted the court to proceed.
Proceedings started far less dramatic Monday morning with the cross examination of security guard Pieter Baba. Roux showed Baba phone records of the evening on Feb. 14, 2013 when Pistorius shot Steenkamp showing that Pistorius first phoned security and that the guard phoned him back moments later when they got disconnected.
Baba testified that he phoned Pistorius after receiving calls from other residents. He told the court Pistorius told him "Security, everything is fine," but he could hear everything was not fine as it sounded like the athlete was crying. According to the security guard, Pistorius phoned him moments later but was too distraught to speak and simply hung up.
Pistorius, 27, is charged with murdering Steenkamp. He claims he mistook her for an intruder when he fired four shots through a bathroom door.
Pistorius could face at least 25 years in prison if convicted of murder.
Marcio Silva/Thinkstock(BAGHDAD) -- In one of the single-deadliest attacks so far in 2014, at least 45 Iraqis were killed Sunday and more than 150 others wounded by a suicide bomber 60 miles south of Baghdad.
Police in the Shiite-dominated city of Hillah said the assailant detonated a minibus laden with explosives at a security checkpoint near the city's northern entrance.
No group claimed immediate responsibility for the suicide bomb attack although signs point to al Qaeda's main organization in the country, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
Most of the violence that began picking up again in Iraq right after last April's provincial elections has occurred in Baghdad and points north and west of the capital.
The southern part of the country, where Shiites hold sway, has been relatively unscathed by the revival of al Qaeda and its Sunni sympathizers, who have also been emboldened by the ongoing conflict in Syria.
creisinger/Thinkstock(DAMASCUS, Syria) -- As the three-year anniversary of the conflict in Syria approaches, government forces battling to save the regime of President Bashar al-Assad claimed a major victory this past weekend as they retook the rebel-held town of Zara near the border with Lebanon, the opposition's last stronghold in the region.
A pro-opposition group confirmed that Zara fell to Syrian soldiers after several days of fighting.
The town is important to Assad's forces because it's been used by the rebels to bring in additional fighters and weaponry.
Zara, with its large population of ethnic Turks who are mostly Sunni Muslims, was formerly controlled by various Islamist rebels linked to a number of militant factions. The government refers to anyone fighting for the opposition as either "terrorists" or "mercenaries."
The government has been steadily solidifying its control of the western province of Homs although rebels are still holding onto other large pockets of Syria three years into the fighting that has cost as many as 140,000 lives and displaced millions more.
Jemal Countess/Getty Images(PRETORIA, South Africa) -- Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius' lawyers are expected to cross examine the security guard on duty the night the man known as the "Blade Runner" shot and killed his girlfriend, when the murder trial resumes Monday.
Pieter Baba, the chief security guard on duty on the night Reeva Steenkamp was fatally shot, told the court on Friday that Pistorius told him everything was fine when he called after receiving reports from other residents that they had heard gunshots.
Baba said Pistorius phoned him back shortly thereafter but he was crying and did not say anything.
Barry Roux, the attorney leading the defense team, told Baba last week that he would come back to certain aspects of his evidence when the trial resumed.
Although Prosecutor Gerrie Nel has not revealed which of the 107 witnesses he will call next, it is expected that the pathologist who performed the post mortem examination on Steenkamp might be called to testify sometime this week, as the case proceeds in the High Court.
Pistorius pleaded not guilty to the four charges against him when his high profile court case started last week.
The state is trying to prove that he intentionally and deliberately set out to kill his model girlfriend in the early hours of Valentine's Day last year, but Pistorius remains adamant that it was a tragic case of mistaken identity.
In his plea explanation, which was read out in court, Pistorius said he thought there was an intruder in his home and that he acted in self defense.
So far, prosecutors have called nine witnesses -- four of them neighbors of Pistorius who all told the court they heard gunshots and a woman screaming.
Roux vigorously questioned all of them, especially husband and wife Michelle Burger and Charl Johnson, who he suggested colluded against Pistorius by adapting their evidence to suit the state's case. Both witnesses denied this.
One of the witnesses, a medical doctor who tried to resuscitate Steenkamp, told the court Pistorius cried and prayed, begging God to save the life of the woman he loved. It was during this testimony that the Olympian started crying in the dock.
Three witnesses, including Pistorius' boxer friend, Kevin Lerena, testified about a shooting incident inside a busy Johannesburg restaurant, after which Pistorius allegedly asked another friend to take the blame. This evidence relates to one of the three other charges against Pistorius.
A former girlfriend also testified last week. Samantha Taylor said the athlete once fired a round through a car's open sunroof in anger.
She told the court a traffic official, who had pulled over the vehicle they were traveling in for speeding, admonished Pistorius for leaving his firearm on the seat next to him. The official handled the weapon before handing it back, which Taylor said incensed her boyfriend so much that he contemplated shooting at a traffic light, before he simply fired through the sunroof and started laughing.
Taylor was adamant that the defense theory that the screams the neighbors heard could have been Pistorius was not true. She testified that Pistorius often shouted at her and at other people and did not sound like a woman at all.
The other theory Roux put to several witnesses was that what they had thought were gunshots were in fact the sound of Pistorius breaking down the bathroom door with a cricket bat after realizing that it was Steenkamp behind it.
Burger and Johnson were unwavering in their opinion that what they had heard were gunshots, while Dr. Johan Stipp said he would not have been able to swing a bat that fast.
Stipp was also steadfast in his testimony that when he looked at Pistorius' home from his balcony after hearing sounds, the light in the bathroom was on. This is in direct contrast to the accused's version, which was that it was dark and he was too scared to switch on a light.
Pistorius, 27, is charged with premeditated murder and weapons counts in the killing of Steenkamp.
If he is convicted, the athlete could face at least 25 years in prison before he is eligible for parole.
Stock photo: iStockphoto/Thinkstock(KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia) -- While investigators continue to hunt for clues as to what brought down Malaysian Airlines Flight 370, the revelation that two passengers possibly used stolen European passports not only raises the specter of terrorism but also points to a huge vulnerability in aviation security, current and former officials told ABC News.
Interpol, the international police cooperative, maintains a massive database at its Lyon, France headquarters with 40 million records of lost and stolen travel documents such as passports, officials said. And though 160 nations provide those reports, only a handful of them actually tap the freely accessible archive regularly to check on travelers at their airports or have the capability to do so, Interpol sources said
"I'm not sure that [Malaysian authorities are] screening for stolen passports at all over there at this point," one senior law enforcement official familiar with the system told ABC News. Another law enforcement official briefed on the ongoing investigation confirmed that Malaysia typically does not check the Interpol database and said the island nation has not run a search on it yet in 2014.
In a statement posted online Sunday, Interpol said that prior to the takeoff of Flight 370, no country had checked with them about the Austrian or Italian passports possibly used by two passengers on the flight. If anyone had, Interpol could have told them that the Austrian passport had been reported stolen in 2012 and the Italian in 2013.
“Whilst it is too soon to speculate about any connection between these stolen passports and the missing plane, it is clearly of great concern that any passenger was able to board an international flight using a stolen passport listed in Interpol's databases,” Interpol Secretary General Ronald K. Noble said in the statement. And because no one asked, Interpol said it has no way to know how many times the stolen passports may have been used before Flight 370.
The official briefed on the investigation said the two stolen passports were used to buy tickets with consecutive numbers, suggesting they were purchased at the same time and making it "less likely" that the presence of both stolen passports was a random incident. The travelers with the stolen passport were also only stopping in China on their way to a European destination, the official said.
Malaysia would hardly be alone in failing to check travelers' passports. Interpol reported that last year passengers were able to board planes more than a billion times around the world without having their passports screened against Interpol's databases.
A senior American law enforcement official told ABC News that while there is concern that terrorists could have used stolen passports to board the downed plane, fraudulent passports are most commonly used "for illicit criminal stuff like smuggling or drug trafficking and human trafficking," or by people who buy them "for work verification purposes."
Still, another former senior U.S. law enforcement official with close ties to Interpol cautioned that the lack of coordination over stolen passports could be a strong advantage for terrorists in particular.
"An individual who's going to sacrifice himself could easily use a stolen passport to get on a plane with explosives smuggled in their checked luggage and just sit there until it blows the plane to bits," he said.
The stolen passport check is a security hurdle that Interpol chief Noble said many in the international community should have cleared by now.
"Now we have a real case where the world is speculating whether the stolen passport holders were terrorists, while Interpol is asking why only a handful of countries worldwide are taking care to make sure that persons possessing stolen passports are not boarding international flights," Noble said.
The U.S., the international law enforcement body said, is one of the biggest customers for Interpol's database, searching more than 250 million times per year, followed by the United Kingdom with 120 million annual searches and then 50 million for the United Arab Emirates.
However, many other countries do not, or cannot search for themselves, U.S. and Interpol officials said. A senior Interpol official said that in many third world countries, "ties between law enforcement and border ministries often do not exist," and the counties often do not have the information technology infrastructure to allow them to check Interpol's computerized databases.
But Noble has a message for those that can:
“For the sake of innocent passengers who go through invasive security measures prior to boarding flights in order to get to their destination safely, I sincerely hope that governments and airlines worldwide will learn from the tragedy of missing flight MH 370 and begin to screen all passengers’ passports prior to allowing them to board flights. Doing so will indeed take us a step closer to ensuring safer travel,” Noble said.
Malaysian Airlines Flight 370, with 239 passengers on board, disappeared Saturday on its way from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to Beijing, China in calm weather with no explanation.
The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board announced on Sunday that it would send a team to assist with the investigation.
FBI(NEW YORK) -- Sunday marks seven years since former FBI agent Robert Levinson disappeared from Iran’s Kish Island while on a mission for the CIA. Levinson turns 66 years old Monday.
“Today we remind the world that, after seven years, Bob is still not home with those who love him – his wife, sons, daughters, grandchildren and friends,” the family said in a emailed statement Friday. “Bob’s continued imprisonment defies the humanity in all of us. After seven years, we have almost no words left to describe our life without Bob… We miss everything about [him]. No matter where we turn, Bob is absent.”
Levinson, who served more than two decades with the FBI before retiring, was kidnapped from Kish Island off Iran’s southern coast on March 9, 2007. For years, the government said Levinson was working at the time as a private investigator, but in December Levinson’s family acknowledged he was in fact working as a kind of freelance “spy” for a rogue CIA operation.
“The CIA sent Bob Levinson to Iran to do an investigation on its behalf,” family attorney David McGee said in December.
McGee told ABC News the CIA and the FBI betrayed Levinson as it tried to hide the fact that he had a long-term relationship with the CIA, spying on Iran’s nuclear program and on the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah in the rogue operation.
“[R]ather than acknowledge what they had done and try and save Bob’s life, they denied him,” McGee said. Levinson has been held in captivity longer than any other American, according to the FBI.
The day Levinson was outed as spy for the CIA, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney declined to discuss the case, beyond saying Levinson was “not a U.S. government employee” when he was kidnapped. The CIA declined to comment on “any purported affiliation,” and only said, “The U.S. government remains committed to bringing him home safely to his family.”
The next day, Secretary of State John Kerry said in an exclusive interview that the idea the U.S. had abandoned Levinson was “simply incorrect and not helpful.”
“The fact is that I have personally raised the issue, not only at the highest level that I have been involved with, but also through other intermediaries,” Kerry said on ABC News’ This Week.
Kerry issued a statement on Sunday, saying in part, "The United States remains committed to the safe return of Mr. Levinson to his family. ... We respectfully ask the Government of Iran to work cooperatively with us on the investigation into his disappearance so we can ensure his safe return."
The Iranian government has denied holding Levinson, but American officials have repeatedly said they suspect that at the very least, Iranian government officials know where he is.
“We ask those that are holding Bob to show mercy and send him home to us so he may live out the rest of his life quietly and in peace,” the family’s statement said. “We ask the government of Iran to resolve Bob’s case on humanitarian grounds so he may safely return home. We ask the U.S. government to recognize its duty to bring home one of its own who was taken while serving his country.”
File Photo: Stockbyte/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Airliner “black boxes” record flight data and cockpit voice transmissions that could shed light on how a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 with 239 people on board seemingly vanished in Southeast Asia.
Rescue teams are in a race against time to locate the black boxes if indeed Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 crashed. The black boxes emit signals or “pingers” that can be detected many miles away, but they can weaken in just days.
But the waters the flight is suspected to have crashed is shallow, according to ABC News consultant and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Col. Steve Ganyard.
“It’s fairly shallow South China Sea water and so I think we do have a good chance of hearing those pingers — those under-water pingers that the black boxes have that will allow us to go out and find the wreckage somewhere between Vietnam and Malaysia,” he said.
Air France Flight 447 disappeared over the Atlantic Ocean en route from Rio de Janeiro to Paris on June 1, 2009. Some wreckage and bodies were recovered over the next two weeks, but it took nearly two years for the main wreckage of the Airbus 330 and its black boxes to be located and recovered.
File Photo: Stockbyte/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The safety record of the Boeing 777 is nearly perfect, which makes the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 near Vietnam especially mysterious to aircraft experts.
“This is so rare, it is absolutely baffling and it’s baffling that we don’t have any better answers this long after the mishap actually occurred,” ABC News aviation consultant Col. Stephen Ganyard said. “So, lots of questions to be answered, [but] there’s very little direct evidence, very few facts that we can go on.”
Ganyard says the aircraft has a great safety record.
“We’ve seen a recent mishap in San Francisco, the Asiana crash, which involved a triple-seven, but in that case it’s pretty clear that that was due to pilot error,” he said.
An air search and rescue mission in the South China Sea, where the plane likely crashed, was under way over an area of 4,000 square miles.
The team is searching for the plane’s black box, which records flight data and cockpit voices and can be detected through ultrasonic “pingers.”
Even though the plane likely crashed in relatively shallow water, which makes these pingers work more effectively, underwater plane crashes are notoriously difficult to pinpoint.
The last flight to disappear like this was an Air France flight in 2009. It was two years before the black box was found and the cause of the crash — a combination of mechanical error and pilot oversight — determined.
Those causes will also be investigated in this disappearance, Ganyard said, as well as weather issues and even terrorism.
Airline officials lost contact with the plane, which was carrying 239 passengers, two hours into the Kuala Lumpur-to-Beijing flight, at 2:40 a.m. local time (18:40 GMT Friday).
The plane, which was carrying three Americans, went off radar without sending out a distress signal, meaning that whatever happened likely happened quickly.
The outcome is likely tragic, according to ABC News aviation analyst John Nance.
“If you have an airplane that comes out of 35,000 feet in an uncontrolled way or in pieces, the possibility of anybody surviving that kind of fall is very, very remote,” Nance said. “But, again, we don’t want to stomp on any possibilities, because miracles do occur.”
Photo by How Foo Yeen/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A massive search and rescue operation is underway in Southeast Asia for the Malaysia Airlines flight with 239 people on board lost contact with air traffic controllers.
The airline said there are 227 passengers, including two adult Americans and an infant, on board the Boeing 777-200 aircraft.
Flight MH370 departed Kuala Lumpur at 12:55 a.m. local time Saturday, and was scheduled to land in Beijing at 6:30 a.m., the airline said. It went missing two hours into the flight and disappeared off the radar.
Malaysia Airlines CEO Ahmad Jauhari Yahya said there was no indication that the pilots sent a distress signal. The fact that there was apparently no call for help suggests that whatever happened to the flight occurred quickly.
The New York Times reported on Saturday that a Vietnamese government official said a Vietnamese navy plane had spotted a large oil slick in the area where the plane was last known to be located. However, there was no confirmation that the slicks were related to the missing plane.
China has dispatched two maritime rescue ships and the Philippines deployed three air force planes and three navy patrol ships to help. The U.S. Navy's USS Pinckney is also on its way to help the search effort, the 7th Fleet announced on Twitter this morning.
A spokesman for Malaysia Airlines said Friday that the passengers included two adult Americans and a baby as well as travelers from Canada, Britain, Australia, France, India, the Netherlands, Russia and several other countries.
"We extend our deepest condolences to the loved ones of those on board Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370. At this time, we can confirm that three U.S. citizens were on board. Officials from the U.S. Embassies in Kuala Lumpur and Beijing are in contact with the individuals' families," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement. "Out of respect for them, we are not providing additional information at this time. The Embassies are working to assess whether additional U.S. citizens may have been on board the flight."
The plane's route would take the aircraft from Malaysia across to Vietnam and China. Vietnam said on its official website that its air traffic controllers lost contact with the plane "in Ca Mau province airspace before it had entered contact with Ho Chi Minh City air traffic control." Ca Mau is near the southern tip of Vietnam.
The plane was meant to transfer to Ho Chi Minh City air traffic control at 1722 GMT but never appeared, the statement said, citing a senior Ministry of Defense official.
Malaysia's defense minister told a news conference, "We are trying to do everything in our power to [determine] where the plane is."
Malaysia Airlines said the captain of the airliner, Zaharie Ahmad Shah, was an experienced 53-year-old pilot who had 18,365 hours of flying since joining the airline in 1981. The first officer on the flight was identified as Fariq Hamid, 27, and had about 2,800 flight hours since 2007.
For hours, the flight information board at the airport in Beijing indicated the flight was delayed.
An airport official wrote on a white board near the arrivals customer service desk that families of the missing passengers should go to the Lido Hotel. The notice was put up about four hours after the plane was overdue.
"Friends and families should go to the Lido Hotel for more information," Eric Yangchao, customer service representative for Beijing International Airport, told ABC News. Family members took a shuttle bus to the hotel.
In a statement on Twitter, Boeing said it was watching the situation closely. The Malaysian aircraft, a Boeing 777-200, is 11 years and 10 months old. The 777 model had not had a fatal crash in its 20 year history until the Asiana crash in San Francisco in July 2013.
Photo by Feng Li/Getty Images(BEIJING) -- Families whose relatives were aboard the missing Malaysia Airlines plane that vanished en route to Beijing spent a distraught day in a Beijing hotel waiting for news that they feared would be catastrophic.
A sobbing woman in her 20s said her brother texted her that he was on the plane, but when it didn't arrive she said airline officials told her plane hadn't taken off. But her parents at home read news accounts of the plane's disappearance.
A woman cried uncontrollably, saying her son was on the plane.
"My son is only 40 years. He is so kind. Please take my life, and give my son back, what am I going to do?" she wailed. "My son, Malaysian Airline, you are killing me."
A woman wrapped in a green coat said her husband works in a factory in Malaysia and he comes home each month. The family was planning to go on vacation in Hainan Sunday, but the father wanted to fly home on Saturday so he could go to the dentist with their 5-year-old child before they went on vacation.
Relatives of the passengers had gone to Beijing International Airport Friday to await the incoming flight that carried many Chinese who had gone to Malaysia as tourists. But about four hours after the airline posted a "delayed" notice on the arrivals board, an airport official, taking no questions, wrote an announcement by hand on a board directing people downtown to a hotel where representatives from Malaysia Airlines would meet them.
The families were eventually bused to the Lido Hotel about 15 miles away. As the media presence grew at the airport, numerous police patrolled the arrivals terminal to maintain order.
As the awful reality became apparent to the waiting families, the anguish and the tears began.
While enduring the agonizing wait at a meeting room at the hotel, the distraught families were given a meeting room and bottles of water. They tried to give the families food, but it was rejected. They wanted information instead.
Tempers rose along with the tears. Some were screaming in anger and frustration that they wanted to be able to talk to an official from the airline, and they threatened to go out to the media if they didn't get answers soon.
While the families fumed, Malaysia's defense minister held a news conference in Kuala Lumpur and said, "There is nothing we will not do to ensure the families we are doing our very, very best."
Among those on board the Kuala Lumpur-Beijing flight was a group of tourists returning from Malaysia. The party had been split into two groups and the first group, which flew a different airline, had already arrived and were waiting for the rest of the travelers to arrive. Some families had been split up when the group was divided.
ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/GettyImages(NEW YORK) -- A Malaysia Airlines flight with more than 200 passengers on board has gone missing, and a search and rescue team has been deployed to locate the aircraft, a spokeswoman has confirmed to ABC News.
The Beijing-bound flight departed Kuala Lumpur at 12:55 a.m. local time, and was scheduled to land in Beijing at 6:30 a.m., the airline said. It went missing two hours into the flight.
"We deeply regret that we have lost all contacts with flight MH370," the airline's chief executive officer Ahmad Jauhari Yahya said statement on Facebook.
"Malaysia Airlines is currently working with the authorities who have activated their Search and Rescue team to locate the aircraft," Yahya said. "Our team is currently calling the next-of-kin of passengers and crew."
Meanwhile, the flight information board at the airport in Beijing indicated the flight was delayed.
Information board at PEK says Malaysia Air 370 'delayed' -- #370 #MalaysiaAir
Karwai Tang/WireImage(LONDON) -- Prince Harry, 29, and Cressida Bonas, 25, have been dating for about a year, but We Day in the U.K. marked the first official royal function they went to together.
Harry and Bonas arrived separately to Friday’s event so Harry could prepare for his speech and Bonas could pose for pictures on the red carpet. The couple met up later to sit together in the VIP seating area.
Although Harry admitted he was nervous speaking in front of a crowd of 12,000 schoolkids, he loosened up enough to joke with the kids.
“If you were expecting Harry Styles, I apologize,” Harry teased at the We Day event, benefiting the Free The Children charity, aimed at educating and empowering today’s youth. “And no, I’m not going to sing.”
Sticking to the core mission of the charity, Prince Harry aimed to inspire the children he spoke to and encourage them to help make change in the world.
“Every single one of you has done something amazing to be here today. It may not feel like it to you, but I can assure you that, collectively, your actions can and will shape the course of our future. After all, we all share this planet, so we must help and inspire others to do the same,” he said.
After making it through his six minute speech, Prince Harry made his way to his dancer girlfriend at their seats and gave her a quick hug and kiss before sitting down, People reports. The casually-dressed couple was spotted sitting close and often whispering to each other, staying very low-key.
Toned-down outings aren’t anything new for the duo. They were spotted at dinner out at a burger joint in Kensington in January just enjoying a laid-back meal together.