Prince William movingly comforted a little girl grieving for her father today, telling her: ‘I lost my mummy when I was very young too.’
The prince, who later this year will mark the 20th anniversary of the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, asked Aoife, nine: ‘Do you know what happened to me? You know I lost my mummy when I was very young too. I was 15 and my brother was 12.’
The prince, accompanied by his wife, the Duchess of Cambridge, was visiting the Child Bereavement UK Centre in Stratford, which is marking its one year anniversary, and provides support for children and families when a baby or child of any age dies or is dying, or when a child is facing personal loss.
He urged Aoife, whose father John died from pancreatic cancer six years ago, not to bottle up her loss, adding: ‘Do you speak about your daddy? It’s very important to talk about it. Very, very important.’
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge as visit the Child Bereavement UK centre in London on their first joint engagement of 2017
William told nine-year-old Aoife whose father had died from pancreatic cancer: ‘I lost my mummy when I was very young too’
Prince William chats to Aoife about the loss of his mother as they take part in an art project and urges her not to bottle up her feelings over the loss of her father
Kate got stuck back into royal duties for 2017 today, fitting in a visit to the Anna Freud Centre this morning and an engagement at the Child Bereavement UK Centre with Prince William this afternoon
Aoife’s mother, Marie, said afterwards: ‘I couldn’t believe it when he started to talk about his mother. It was very emotional and I was willing myself not to start to cry. I almost did. ‘
‘I am telling my children that if they take anything away from this day, it is what he said about how important it is to talk. Kids do not forget that.
Sometimes it hurts but we can remember the happy things too. It is so important to talk. ‘
As Royal Patron of Child Bereavement UK since 2009, William has long supported the vital work undertaken by the charity, which makes such a positive difference to bereaved families across the country.
The charity also provides training for 8,000 professionals a year whose work brings them into contact with bereaved families.
Child Bereavement UK was established in 1994 in the presence of Diana, Princess of Wales, whose best friend, Julia Samuel, is Founder Patron of the organisation. Mrs Samuel has remained close to William and was asked to be Prince George’s god-mother.
William prepares to cut a cake celebrating the first birthday of the Child Bereavement UK Centre in East London
Kate observes bereaved children taking part in an art project to help them process their feelings of grief
The Duchess is presented with a bouquet of flowers by Shinobi from one of the centre’s bereaved families as she arrives
Kate shakes hands as she arrives with Prince William to the Child Bereavement UK Centre to mark its first anniversary