The Prince of Wales, Prince William, has pledged to follow in his mother’s footsteps and take his children to a homeless charity, just as Princess Diana did with her sons.
Prince William’s promise came when he toured The Passage, a homeless charity in central London, and met Sister Joan who remembers Diana, Princess of Wales’ private visit with William and the Duke of Sussex to meet rough sleepers in the early 1990s.
The future king officially opened two refurbished accommodation centres run by The Passage, a charity he supports as patron, during his visit and said he was more “determined than ever” to play a role in stopping the “human tragedy that is homelessness”.
Diana was instrumental in teaching her sons William and Harry about the issue of homelessness, taking them to meet rough sleepers during the early 1990s when they were young schoolboys to broaden their horizons.
William clasped hands with Sister Joan, from The Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul, a neighbour of The Passage, and chatted for a few minutes at the end of his visit.
In 1993, the princess and her sons first visited The Passage and it is thought this was when Sister Joan met Diana.
Sister Joan, 90, said about the princess: “She was beautiful and gentle, I cannot find the words to describe her. She was an ordinary person with no airs and graces, who could relate to anybody.
“I remember when they were signing the visitors’ book he said to his mum ‘what should I write?’ and she said ‘your name of course’.”
The nuns regularly volunteer at the homeless charity and are very much part of its community, and Sister Joan said about the future king: “He said he would bring his children one day to see us.”
When William first arrived, he joined an art therapy group where those who have recently left the streets were encouraged to draw images of what home meant for them.
The men and women are all staying in one of the newly refurbished accommodation areas, Passage House, a rapid response assessment centre where their needs and issues can be supported.
There was an emotional moment when one of the group said the picture referred to his mother, and when William enquired about her, the man – only identified by his first name Colin – said she had died and the prince offered his condolences as the man wiped away a tear.
Later William visited the second refurbished accommodation block called Bentley House, which offers life-long flats to 20 individuals and chatted to new resident Mark Chiverton, 58, who had been living rough intermittently for the last 18 years.
Mr Chiverton, a Manchester United fan, soon turned the conversation to football and asked about the prince about his team and William replied: “Villa are doing alright, we’re doing okay – wanna be in the top 10.”
Before unveiling two plaques to mark the official opening of the two accommodation blocks, which cost £9 million to refurbish, William said: “No single organisation or sector can end homelessness; but by working together in true partnership, organisations like The Passage can help demonstrate it is not an inevitable part of life.
“I believe this is how we can make homelessness rare, brief, and non-recurrent. I am determined to play a significant role to support this becoming a reality and look forward to sharing further details later this year. ”
He told the gathered guests who included the charity’s supporters: “I am personally more determined than ever to play my part in working with others to do all we can to stop the human tragedy that is homelessness.”
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