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Prince William remembers his beloved mother, Princess Diana, who would have turned 61 on July 1.
The Princess of Wales died in 1997 from injuries sustained in a car accident in Paris. The British royal was 36 years old. She left two sons, William and Prince Harry.
On Friday, William, 40, paid tribute to the latest recipients of the Diana Award, which honors people between the ages of 9 and 25 for social action and humanitarian work. The award was named after the late royal.
The father-of-three penned a heartfelt letter on official Kensington Palace stationery bearing his royal number ‘W’. The Duke of Cambridge called this year’s winners “an inspiration”.
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“Congratulations on receiving the Diana Award today! ” he wrote. “You are part of an inspiring generation of young people who are changing the world through your actions, and I greatly admire your efforts.
“Your stories are remarkable. Many of you face tremendous challenges in the face of difficult times, but you tirelessly break down barriers to create a better future for us all.
“You are truly the personification of my mother’s legacy and I know she would be so proud of all of you,” William added. “I believe there is no better way to celebrate one’s life and work than by recognizing incredible people who dedicate so much time and effort to helping those around them.”
The charity, which is the only one named after Diana, is supported by both William and his younger brother Harry, 37. According to People magazine, an awards ceremony is taking place to honor “180 changemakers and young philanthropists from 29 countries”. More than 20 winners come from the United States
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“It is particularly poignant as we remember Princess Diana 25 years later,” Tessy Ojo CBE, CEO of the Diana Award, said in a statement. “We know that by receiving this honor, they will inspire more young people to get involved in their communities and begin their own journeys as active citizens.”
This August will mark 25 years since Diana’s death. While the brothers’ relationship has been strained for a few years, they briefly got together last summer to unveil a statue erected in memory of their mother in Kensington Palace’s Sunken Garden.
In May this year, William spoke of his own grief as he paid personal tribute to the families of 22 people who were killed when a suicide bomber targeted an Ariana Grande concert at Manchester Arena five years ago. He and his wife, Kate Middleton, attended the official opening of a public memorial in the city.
The prince told the families of those who died that he knows “the pain and trauma felt by many has not gone away”.
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“As someone who lives with their own grief, I also know that often what matters most to mourners is that those we have lost are not forgotten,” William said. “There is comfort in remembering. In acknowledging that, although taken horribly early, they survived.”
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William was a teenager when he lost his mother.
The memorial, near Manchester Cathedral, bears the names of those killed when Salman Abedi detonated a bomb in the lobby of Manchester Arena as young people and their parents walked out of a concert.
Hundreds of people were injured in the attack. The 22 dead included six children, the youngest aged 8. The suicide bomber’s younger brother, Hashem Abedi, was jailed for life in March 2020 for his part in the plot.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.