Prince William's new patronage is a touching tribute to Diana

Danielle Stacey
Royal Correspondent
William helps to serve lunch at homeless charity The Passage [Photo: PA]

The Duke of Cambridge was announced as the royal patron of homeless charity The Passage, ahead of his visit on Wednesday morning.

William, 36, helped to prepare and serve lunch, as he heard about the charity’s Home for Good programme, which aims to reduce the incidence of former rough sleepers failing in their tenancies and becoming homeless again. 

The Duke and the royals have had a long-standing interest in homelessness and the people affected by it.

William first visited The Passage as a child in 1993 with his mother Princess Diana and has made additional visits at various points over the last twenty-five years.

During an engagement in 2016, he said: “The visits I made as a child to this place left a deep and lasting impression upon me – about how important it is to ensure that everyone in our society, especially the poorest, are treated with respect, dignity and kindness, and are given the opportunities to fulfil their potential in life.”

The Duke has also been patron of Centrepoint, who work to help homeless young people, since 2005. Diana held the position previously from 1992 to 1997.

It was one of the first charities William chose to be associated with, after visiting with his mother as a child.

In a move not seen by a member of the Royal Family before, William spent a night sleeping out on the streets of London in December 2009, to deepen his understanding of the challenges homeless young people face.

Seyi Obakin, CEO of Centrepoint, said: “The Duke of Cambridge has been committed to ending youth homelessness through his Patronage of Centrepoint since 2005 and we are delighted to see that The Duke has demonstrated his commitment to ending homelessness on a broader scale through his Patronage of The Passage.

“Both the public and private visits The Duke makes to our services have an immensely positive impact on the young people at Centrepoint and our dedicated staff who support them. We look forward to a similar impact on the wider community of homeless people.”

Diana using a visit to Centrepoint in March 1997 [Photo: PA]

Both William and brother Harry have said they are keen to continue Diana’s work with issues, such as homelessness, over the years. During her interview with Martin Bashir for ‘Panorama’ in 1995, the princess spoke about how she is raising her sons differently to the rest of the Royal Family. 

She said: “Well, with William and Harry, for instance, I take them round homelessness projects, I’ve taken William and Harry to people dying of Aids – albeit I told them it was cancer – I’ve taken the children to all sorts of areas where I’m not sure anyone of that age in this family has been before.

“And they have a knowledge – they may never use it, but the seed is there, and I hope it will grow because knowledge is power.”

Having a royal patron provides vital publicity for a charity or organisation’s work and can help to boost fundraising. A high-profile figurehead can also draw in other well-connected contacts and donors.

According to research by Shelter, there are an estimated 320,000 homeless people in the UK – nearly 170,000 of those are living on the royal family’s doorstep in London.

Prince Harry and Meghan during a visit to Social Bite in Edinburgh, in February 2018 [Photo: PA]

It’s clear that the issue is a big area of focus for the Cambridges and the Sussexes.

Harry and Meghan paid a visit to the sandwich shop Social Bite, which helps homeless people across Scotland, during their first official joint trip to Edinburgh in February 2018. 

According to The Scotsman, Harry encouraged co-founders Josh Littlejohn and Alice Thompson
to launch the model across the UK “as soon as possible.”

Homeless charity Crisis was also one of seven charities personally chosen by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex to benefit from donations in lieu of wedding gifts last year. 

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