Good afternoon and welcome to Buckingham Palace.
We are here today to reflect on, and to celebrate, my father’s dedicated support to all of you and the work that you do.
But first, I would like us to take a moment to remember all those affected by the tragic events at the Manchester Arena a year ago. We are fortunate to have over 250 representatives from the Emergency Services here today. It is right that we take a moment to recognise the amazing work they do every day and how each member of our Blue Light Services rise to meet the challenge of tragic events such as the attack a year ago. We are also joined by Youth United Cadets. Their organisation also provided triage support to the medical crews on the attack.
So, on behalf of my family and everyone here, I would like to say thank you to the Emergency Services and all those who supported the injured and affected. My brother, William, would be here today, were he not attending the service in Manchester to honour the victims, their families, the Emergency Services and the survivors, this afternoon. Our thoughts are with those who lost loved ones and those still dealing with the experiences of that night.
It really is amazing to see so many of you here today for this family celebration. I say ‘family’ because this is a chance for us to honour The Prince of Wales’s work over the last forty plus years, with all of his charities, patronages and military associations – and, as you all know, my father views all of your organisations like an extended family.
As I was preparing for this afternoon, I looked through the long list of those who had been invited. Pa, I was again struck by the range and diversity of the work which you are involved with. Currently there are your two major charities, The Prince’s Trust and the newly formed – Prince’s Foundation – which has brought together your work supporting vulnerable young people in society, the built environment, culture, heritage and education. These sit alongside your 18 military associations and more than 420 patronages, ranging from music and the arts to rare breeds and plant life. Although the subjects vary enormously, I know that the way in which you work with each of them does not.
Who amongst you has not known the joy, and perhaps trepidation at receiving a handwritten note in response to some news shared from your organisation, urging you on and asking for more to be done to address this issue or that? Who has not come away from a meeting with my father, their head spinning with a dozen new ideas which he wants to get underway urgently, having met a group of people or read something that has fired his imagination and started the flow of ideas.
His enthusiasm and energy are truly infectious; it has certainly inspired William and I to get involved in issues we care passionately about and to do whatever we can to make a difference. In fact, many of the issues William and I now work on are subjects we were introduced to by our father growing up. His passion and dedication are remarkable and seeing so many of you here today, I cannot fail but to be in awe of the drive he has had for so many years, to contribute to the enrichment of society both in this country and around the world.
But Pa, in my mind, this event sums up your approach to work – I know you really didn’t want today to be about you and would far rather the focus be on the people and organisations represented here. I know that in your mind, you see the opportunity of bringing everyone together as a chance to thank them for all of their amazing work! It is your selfless drive to affect change, whether that is to improve the lives of those who are on the wrong path, to save an important piece of our national heritage or to protect a particular species under threat, which William and I draw inspiration from every day.
So, Pa, while I know that you’ve asked that today not be about you, you must forgive me if I don’t listen to you – much like when I was younger – and instead, I ask everyone here to say a huge thank you to you, for your incredible work over nearly 50 years. Work that has given self-confidence and opportunity to thousands of young people who might not have had the best start in life; Or to champion causes like climate change long before almost anyone else was talking about it; and above all, for your vision and ability to bring people together to make change happen.
You have inspired William and I, and looking out here today, it is clear to see that we are not alone. You have created an incredible body of work that has, and will continue to make such a huge difference to so many people’s lives both here and around the world.
With that, Ladies and Gentlemen, please can I ask you to join me in wishing The Prince of Wales a very Happy Birthday – 6 months ahead of his 70th! How very Royal!