Prince William and Prince Harry wrote a letter which was read at the annual carol service dedicated to their friend Henry van Straubenzee, who died in 2002 in a car crash when he was 18 years old. Around his death, Henry was set to travel to Uganda for his gap year to teach at a local school, so his parents set up a memorial fund to support schools and help improve buildings to ensure children have proper classrooms to learn in.
William and Harry are patrons of the Henry van Straubenzee Memorial Fund, which has completed over 1,700 projects in East Uganda and helped over 35,000 children complete their education.
The fund was set up by both of Henry’s parents, Alexander and Claire, and his brothers, Thomas and Charlie.
The royal brothers began the letter by saying: “We believe everyone here tonight will agree that what Claire and Alex have achieved since 2009… is nothing short of extraordinary.”
The family is still close to the royals and Thomas and Charlie are godparents to Prince William’s daughter Princess Charlotte, and Prince Harry’s son Archie Mountbatten-Windsor.
Both Harry and William have attended the annual charity event in the past along with Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle, but this year sent a letter to be read out instead as busy schedules got in the way.
Instead, close friends of the royals were at the event, including Kate Middleton’s siblings, Pippa and James, who attended with their spouses.
Prince William could not attend as he was flying back from the United States after a trip to Boston for his environmental charity the Earthshot Prize, while Prince Harry now lives in California with his family.
The annual charity event is a seasonal carol concert which took place at St Luke’s Chuch in Chelsea on December 1.
In the letter, both William and Harry affectionately refer to their friend “Henners” and said: “We will always miss his mischievous charm and hilarious sense of humour.”
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The letter also read: “As you gather under this roof tonight, the charity is supporting 51 nursery, primary and secondary schools in rural Uganda, where 1700 projects have been completed and over 35,000 children, each year, are benefitting by receiving education they wouldn’t have otherwise had.
“Where there were old, dilapidated and unsafe school buildings, there are now schools which have their own water supplies, proper safe buildings to learn in, and essential hygienic facilities which are conducive to a healthy learning environment.
“It is with a mixture of great pride and sadness, therefore, that tonight we share with you Claire and Alex’s plan to embark on a gradual winding down of the charity.
“Henry’s legacy will live on through the incredible achievements of his mum and dad have accomplished over the years.”
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The letter is a rare sign of unity for the two royals, as both brothers did not see each other while Prince William was visiting the United States.
During Prince William and Kate Middleton’s three-day visit to the US, Prince Harry and Meghan’s bombshell Netflix documentary trailer was released.
The three-minute trailer in black-and-white includes a voiceover from Prince Harry who said: “no-one sees what’s happening behind closed doors” alongside a picture of Meghan Markle seemingly crying in an armchair.
In the trailer, a clip shows the Duchess of Sussex saying: “When the stakes are this high, doesn’t it make more sense to hear our story from us?”
The highly anticipated documentary is set to confront rumours about Prince Harry and Meghan’s relationship with the royal family.