Prince William has comforted a schoolboy who is grieving the loss of his mother, putting a hand on his shoulder and telling him “it gets easier”.
The Duke of Cambridge, who was 15 when his mother Princess Diana died in 1997, also told 11-year-old Deacon Glover: “I know how you feel.”
The boy’s mother, Grace Taylor, died last year aged 28.
William and the Duchess of Cambridge spent about 15 minutes talking to Deacon and his great-grandmother, Carole Ellis, during a visit to Church on the Street in Burnley, Lancashire.
The centre helps people struggling with poverty, homelessness, addiction or other problems.
William, 39, an Aston Villa fan, chatted to Deacon about football, but the youngster, who was wearing a Burnley shirt, seemed unimpressed at first.
“He thought it was a footballer coming here so he was gutted when he found out it was William and Kate,” one volunteer at the centre said.
William and Deacon talked about Burnley FC
But gradually he became chattier, as William asked him about Burnley FC’s prospects and pointed out that his father, the Prince of Wales, was a supporter of the club after directing some of his charities to work in the town.
“I only found out a few years ago that my dad is a Burnley fan,” he said.
He told Deacon and his great-grandmother that he hoped his own children would follow him in supporting Aston Villa. “I need to spread the love a bit,” he said.
Kate holds baby girl
The royal couple also posed for photographs with other families and Kate found herself holding a three-and-a-half-month-old girl.
She cooed at Anastasia Barrie while standing beside her parents Trudi, a volunteer, and Alastair Barrie, who is on the centre’s committee.
The duke and duchess had asked to visit the centre after watching a television report in December about its work with Burnley’s most vulnerable people during the coronavirus pandemic and finding it “very moving”.
Pastor Mick Fleming set up Church on the Street in 2019 to help the homeless and disadvantaged living in Burnley and surrounding areas.
Housed in a former gym and funded by donations, it provides a food bank, clothing bank, hot showers, laundry, a cafe, recovery groups, addiction and mental health support, access to a qualified counsellor, and a safe space for up to 200 people at any one time.
‘I’m very grateful to the royal couple’
Pastor Mick, who leads church services, said he hoped the visit would help provide extra support for the people using his services.
“They said they’d seen a BBC report on what we were doing and they’d found it very moving.
“I’m very grateful because hopefully it will mean more people will get to know about what we are doing and more people here will get support because of their royal highnesses coming here.
“We rely on donations and we don’t charge a penny for our services.”
William and Kate also met a “therapy puppy”, an apricot cockapoo called “Alfie”, while visiting the Clitheroe Community Hospital in Lancashire on Thursday.