When it comes to empathizing with those who have lost loved ones, perhaps no one in the world is more qualified than Prince William.
He and Princess Kate did just that Wednesday while visiting with children and families at Child Bereavement UK, one of Prince William’s chief causes. The center, which provides support for children and families facing grief, is marking its one-year anniversary.
Prince William tragically lost his mother, Princess Diana, in a car accident when he was just 15 years old. During his visit, he comforted a young girl who had lost her father to cancer six years ago, telling her, “I lost my mummy when I was very young too.” He also told her that it is important to talk about him.
The prince asked the 9-year-old named Aoife: “Do you know what happened to me? You know I lost my mummy when I was very young too. I was  and my brother was 12. So we lost our mummy when we were young as well. Do you speak about your daddy? It’s very important to talk about it, very, very important.”
Aoife said: “It was really nice that he talked to me. It was like there are other people who know what it is like to lose someone.”
The little girl’s mother, Marie, expressed gratitude that Prince William would speak so openly to her daughter about such a deeply personal and difficult topic.
“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,” Marie said. “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.”
The children made memory jars with their royal visitors, packing the jars with layers of different colored salts, each color representing a memory of their lost loved one.
The charity’s founder, Julia Samuel, who was a friend of Princess Diana, told People that the royal couple have a knack for putting people at ease.
“You can see the terror in peoples’ eyes as they walk in, and you can see that fall away within a few minutes as people realize they are normal. That is always kind of touching to see. Also, their depth of understanding of people, it is much more than a line, the surface of what a charity does — they really understand and care about the issues.”