Prince William appeared to be close to tears today as he spoke of his grief for his mother Princess Diana while unveiling the Manchester arena attack memorial.
The Duke, 39, and Duchess of Cambridge, 40, were sombre as they arrived at the Glade of Light memorial, which is a white marble ‘halo’ bearing the names of those killed in the attack, alongside Manchester Cathedral today.
Families of those who lost loved ones in the May 2017 atrocity have been able to make personalised memory capsules, containing mementos and messages embedded inside the halo of the ‘Glade of Light’ memorial.
The father-of-three went on to give a deeply personal speech during a service at the memorial, in which he appeared to choke up while speaking to bereaved families of victims.
Prince William took a deep breath and put his hand to his chest, as if steadying himself, as he told families: ‘Catherine and I know that the atrocity’s impact will last a lifetime and beyond, and that the healing process is still on-going. We want to assure all of you who are struggling that you are very much in our thoughts.’
Elsewhere in the speech, the Duke spoke of his own grief for his mother, Princess Diana, whom he lost in 1997, when he was 15, saying: ‘As someone who lives with his own grief, I also know that what often matters most to the bereaved is that those we have lost are not forgotten.
‘There is comfort in remembering. In acknowledging that, while taken horribly soon, they lived. They changed our lives. They were loved, and they are loved. It is why memorials such as the Glade of Light are so important. Why Catherine and I so wanted to be amongst you today.’
The speech comes almost a year after the Duke unveiled a bronze statue of Diana in the Sunken Garden in July last year alongside Prince Harry.
Prince William, 39, appeared to be close to tears today as he spoke of his grief for his mother Princess Diana while unveiling the Manchester Arena memorial
Elsewhere in the speech, the Duke spoke of his own grief for his mother, Princess Diana, whom he lost in 1997, when he was 15 (pictured with Prince Harry)
It’s not the first time the Duke has opened up about his grief in public. In January, during a visit to Church on the Street in Burnley, Lancashire, he sympathised with a grieving schoolboy.
At the time, Prince William told Deacon Glover, 11, ‘I know how you feel’, after learning his mother, Grace Taylor, died last year aged 28. Putting a hand on Deacon’s shoulder, William said: ‘It gets easier.’
Today, the Duke and Duchess attended the service taking place alongside the memorial where Prince William went on to make his speech.
The royal couple then took a short walk around the memorial garden, where Kate lay a bouquet of white and blue flowers.
The Duke and Duchess were given a tour of the memorial by designer Andy Thomson and chief executive of Manchester City Council Joanne Roney
The moment the Duke of Cambridge spoke of his own grief for his mother Princess Diana during poignant speech in Manchester
Thank you Joanne. For Catherine and I, it is very important that we are with you here, today. To remember the twenty-two lives so brutally taken. To acknowledge the hundreds of lives that were irrevocably changed and to pay tribute to the resilience of this great City.
I remember only too well the shock and grief on the faces of those I met when I visited Manchester in the days following the atrocity. And the rawness of emotion at the Commemoration Service, held at your Cathedral just here, a year later. Five years on I know that the pain and the trauma felt by many, has not gone away.
As someone who lives with his own grief, I also know that what often matters most to the bereaved is that those we have lost are not forgotten. There is comfort in remembering. In acknowledging that, while taken horribly soon, they lived. They changed our lives. They were loved, and they are loved. It is why memorials such as the Glade of Light are so important. Why Catherine and I so wanted to be amongst you today.
A memorial is a physical statement that the memory of those who died lives on. It is a focal point for commemoration and reflection. A place of solace for the families, the injured and all those affected. A place for Mancunians and visitors alike to acknowledge what the City went through. It is a counter to the violence and hateful disregard for human life that caused this tragedy.
I hope that this beautiful, tranquil space which, for all the challenges, I know many of you were involved in shaping, will provide all of this and more for generations to come.
Catherine and I know that the atrocity’s impact will last a lifetime and beyond, and that the healing process is still on-going. We want to assure all of you who are struggling that you are very much in our thoughts. We stand with you as you continue on that difficult journey.
Alongside the bereaved, I also want to acknowledge all the lives changed that day. The injured, physically and mentally. The First Responders. NHS Staff. Those who were in or around the vicinity of the Arena, and who provided care and first aid. And we remember the entirety of the Manchester community who responded in the most heart-warming and life-affirming ways possible to support those affected. This was an attack on an evening of music. And it occurred in a city that has given the world so many songs to sing.
When the people of Manchester gathered to pay respect to the victims just days after the atrocity, you told the world that your music would not be silenced. Instead, you raised your voices together and you sang a song of love that was written by some of this city’s most famous sons. On that day you told each other that you would not look back in anger. And you showed the world the true heart of this extraordinary place.
So, when we come to this memorial let’s look back with love for those we lost. Let’s look back with love for the people who cared for and protected this community. And let’s look back with love for the ongoing strength of the great city of Manchester.
Posting on Twitter, Prince William said there is ‘comfort in remembering’ and memorials such as the Glade of Light are important because those who died have changed our lives
The Duke gave an emotional speech at the memorial, in which he spoke of previously visiting the city of Manchester and seeing the ‘shock and grief’ following the terror attack.
Prince William also urged attendees of the memorial to ‘look back with love’ at those ‘we have lost’ as well as ‘those who cared for the community.’
The Duchess went on to lay a bouquet of flowers, appearing emotional as she brushed hair from her hair, while her husband watched on.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge shared photos from their visit to the memorial site on Twitter, captioning the post: ‘There is comfort in remembering. In acknowledging that, while taken horribly soon, they lived.
‘They changed our lives. They were loved, and they are loved. It is why memorials such as the Glade of Light are so important. Why Catherine and I so wanted to be here today.’
Hundreds of people were injured alongside the 22 who died, who included six children under 16, the youngest aged just eight, in the attack by suicide bomber Salman Abedi at the end of an Ariana Grande concert.
The Glade of Light memorial site was created to provide a ‘tranquil place’ of ‘remembrance and reflection’ for families and friends of those who tragically lost their lives.
The tribute is conceived as a living memorial – a peaceful garden space for remembrance and reflection, featuring plants which grow naturally in the UK countryside and have been selected to provide year-round colour and echo the changing seasons.
Prince William also urged attendees of the memorial to ‘look back with love’ at those ‘we have lost’ as well as ‘those who cared for the community’
During the visit to Manchester today, the Duke of Cambridge made a short speech to the families of the victims who had died in the suicide bomb attack in May 2017
During the speech, the royal father-of-three spoke of living with his own grief, and said he found a ‘comfort in remembering’ those who have died
The tribute is conceived as a living memorial – a peaceful garden space for remembrance and reflection, featuring plants which grow naturally in the UK countryside and have been selected to provide year-round colour and echo the changing seasons
Around the anniversary every year, May 22, the white flowers of a hawthorn tree planted at its centre will bloom.
The site initially was opened to the public in January, when Figen Murray, mother of Martyn Hett, who was killed in the attack, said it ‘would be right up his street’ and that her son would ‘love’ the people of Manchester to visit it.
Speaking to Sky News at the time, Mrs Murray said: ‘I think a memorial is really important after a huge event like the arena attack because it’s not just important for the people who died and the bereaved families.
‘It’s important for the injured, for the people who have been psychologically damaged and for the people of Manchester because this is such a huge thing that happened in Manchester, it should never be forgotten. It’s also a place for future generations to come and remember, so that they are reminded of what happened that day, it’s part of the city’s history and it’s a really important memorial for that reason, and for all those reasons really.’
Both the Duke and Duchess appeared sombre as they observed the flowers laid at the Glade of Light memorial in Manchester earlier today (left and right)
The Duchess carefully laid her flowers down onto a platform at the memorial earlier today as she and Prince William remembered the victims of the attack
Mrs Murray said that she had placed a USB stick, some photographs and ‘a few special items that I am sure he would appreciate’ into the capsule in memory of her son.
Prince William previously paid tribute to the people of Manchester for their ‘strength and togetherness’ nearly a fortnight after the terror attack.
The Duke spent the morning meeting first responders and members of the local community to thank them ‘for their strength, decency and kindness’ after the attack on May 22.
In a book of condolence at the city’s cathedral, the Duke of Cambridge wrote during his visit: ‘Manchester’s strength and togetherness is an example to the world. My thoughts are with all those affected.’
The Duke and Duchess were perfectly coordinated in their outfits as they arrived at the memorial service today in Manchester
Earlier today, the Duke supported his father Prince Charles as he stepped in for his mother at the 11th hour to read the Queen’s Speech after the 96-year-old monarch was forced to watch the historic moment on TV at Windsor Castle due to ongoing mobility problems.
The heir to the throne, 73, gazed at the crown before he announced 38 of Boris Johnson’s Bills for the coming year including new laws to properly punish eco hooligans, capitalise on Brexit, better regulate landlords and ensure Britons can pay their soaring bills.
Today was a highly symbolic and historic moment for the British monarchy where the Prince of Wales took on his closest role yet to that of king.
He had addressed the House of Lords after the monarch, 96, obeyed doctor’s orders to miss the State Opening of Parliament for the first time in 59 years.
Prince William, who will one day sit on the throne himself, arrived at his first ever State Opening of Parliament around five minutes before his father.
The two future kings were specifically given power to jointly act on Her Majesty’s behalf so that the ceremony could go ahead.
What happened on the night of the Manchester attack?
Twenty-two people were killed and over a 100 injured when a bomb went off in the foyer of the Manchester Arena on May 22 2017.
Suicide bomber Salman Abedi detonated his home-made device at 10.31pm as 14,000 people streamed out at the end of an Ariana Grande concert.
Officers from British Transport Police were on scene one minute later and declared a major incident by 10.39pm.
However, a recent report found that a mix-up between police and the fire and rescue service meant the valuable assistance of fire crews was delayed by two hours and six minutes after the bombing.
Two weeks after the attack, Ariana Grande organised a One Love Manchester benefit concert to support the victims of the bombing.