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Prince William reveals he has been writing letters to help bereaved families

The Duke of Cambridge hosted youngsters and families supported by the Metropolitan and City Police Orphans Fund

Emily Nash

The Duke of Cambridge has urged the children of police officers who have died in service to “keep talking” to keep their parents’ memory alive. William also spoke about his own experience of losing his mother as he hosted youngsters and families supported by the Metropolitan and City Police Orphans Fund at St James’s Palace. And it emerged that he has been writing to officers who have experienced traumatic events as well as to the loved ones of those who have died in service. He told Met Police Commissioner Cressida Dick, who is president of the Fund: “I’m trying to write as much as I can to people involved in the emergency services.” The Commissioner later said of the Duke: “He writes quite often to families and sometimes to officers themselves and it’s really very much appreciated.

WATCH: Prince William at the City Police Orphans Fund at St James's Palace

“He clearly has a passion for supporting people in public service, whether it’s defence, military or emergency services. And with his background experiences, he knows a bit about the challenges these people will face. So many people commented to me you can see the empathy when he is talking to people. It really means a massive amount to them, they know it means something to him. We are lucky to have him as our patron, we are very proud of it. It means a lot to the individuals. Just the fact that he is taking an interest, he speaks not just to these families, but to the wider city, that he’s on our side, he’s with us and thinking about us. We in the police see ourselves as very much a family and we want to look after our families on all occasions but particularly if somebody is lost in service.”

At the reception to mark 150 years of the charity, William was particularly taken by four-year-old George MacParland, who proudly showed him his teddy bear Pierre and told him: “My daddy was in the police!” George, whose father Ian died of kidney cancer in 2017, was with mum Claire, who said: “We make sure we always remember Daddy.” William was visibly moved as he leaned down to chat with 10-year-old Emma Webb about how he had lost his own mother, Diana, Princess of Wales. Emma’s father Ian, 52, worked in close protection for Scotland Yard and died from cancer five years ago. “Do you have a memory box?” the Duke asked her. “It’s very easy to not talk about it, but you must always talk about it – it’s very important. And if you talk about it, you always keep him alive.”

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Prince William has been writing letters to bereaved families 

The Duke laughed as Emma told him one of her cousins liked reading about the royal family in magazines. “Who is she interested in?” he asked. “Is it all the family? I don’t feature in many magazines.” Emma, from Camberley, Surrey, said: “It was quite nice when I learned that his mother passed away as well. It was interesting to know. From what I understood it was that he needed to talk to somebody and it was quite emotional. He said that it’s important to tell somebody and just keep talking so you don’t forget. It feels comforting because I know I am not the only one in the world with this problem. I don’t have a memory box but I’ve got a cushion with lots of pictures that I take everywhere.”

Describing how the charity supports them, Emma’s mum Osnat said: “I meet people who are in the same situation, you don’t need to explain things. People understand what you’re going through on a daily basis. It helps, it really helps.” Emma also takes part in events and activities with support from the Fund. She added: “It’s not as if I forget about my dad, but I get lost in something different and it’s quite distracting because it’s fun and you don’t just need to be sad all the time when you have these other exciting things to do.” William also spoke to Nicole,12, and eleven-year-old Kian Samuel, whose adoptive mother Bernie Looney, died three years ago. The siblings now live with Julie Samuel and her daughter Millie 15. He told them: “It’s very important that if you feel anything, you talk about it. I lost my mum when I was 15.” Turning to Millie, William added: “It’s a difficult age, isn’t it? Which is why it’s important to talk. But you’ve got each other’s backs. Always promise to talk about it.”

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The Duke encouraged children to keep talking about their deceased loved ones

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In a speech, William, who has extended his patronage of the Fund for another three years, said: “Over the past 150 years – as the oldest police charity in the world – the Fund has provided care to the children of police officers in their hour of greatest need. Our society is defined by how we look after those who keep us all safe. It matters deeply that we help the families who play such an important role in supporting them."

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Prince William spoke about the death of his own mother

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William was also reunited with Jane Langley, whose husband Inspector Robert Langley died of cancer aged 40 in 2002. In 2017 the Duke presented their eldest son, Joshua, with the Phillip Cronin Award for Endeavour and Achievement, but sadly the politics and international relations graduate died a year later aged 24. He had been diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy aged just three. Jane was attending with her daughter Ella, 21, and son Thomas, 19, who have been supported through their studies by the Metropolitan and City Police Orphans Fund. It was established in 1870 as The Metropolitan Police Orphanage, to provide accommodation to orphans of officers in the Metropolitan and City of London Police. Since the orphanage closed in 1937 the fund has supported more than 15,200 children. The Fund supports the children of serving police officers who have died or who have been medically retired due to injuries. It also helps with educational costs such as field trips, school equipment and extracurricular activities including sports and music clubs.

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