Prince William has spoken about visiting Crathie Kirk and finding “comfort and solace” in the Scottish countryside following his mother’s death, in a speech to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.
The Duke of Cambridge said yesterday his visits north of the border were among his “happiest memories”, but also included many of his saddest.
The young prince, then 15, was staying at Balmoral Castle when he was told his mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, had died.
He said: “Still in shock, I found sanctuary in the service at Crathie Kirk that very morning.
“And in the dark days of grief that followed, I found comfort and solace in the Scottish outdoors.
“As a result, the connection I feel to Scotland will forever run deep.”
However, the Duke added that this “painful” association with the country was accompanied by a memory of “great joy”, as it was in St Andrews that he met his future wife Catherine.
Referring to the couple’s three children, he said: “George, Charlotte and Louis already know how dear Scotland is to both of us, and they are starting to build their own happy memories here too.
“We have no doubt they will grow up sharing our love and connection to Scotland from the Highlands to the Central Belt, from the Islands to the Borders.”
He also mentioned his time spent training as a pilot in Inverness, saying: “As well as enjoying the camaraderie of my colleagues, it was a privilege to see the majestic sights of Scotland from the air.”
William was addressing the Kirk in his role as Lord High Commissioner, during the opening ceremony of the General Assembly.
In the speech, he also addressed the challenges faced by the Church during a year when it was largely unable to welcome anyone into its buildings.
He said: “The natural way that Ministers bring comfort and guidance to those in need was impossible.
“Yet local congregations, led by creative and determined Ministers and members, found their own ways to continue worship and provide pastoral support online or by phone.”
Fittingly, the audience he was addressing was virtual, with members of the assembly appearing via Zoom.
Scotland tour kicks off
On Monday, he will be joined by the Duchess of Cambridge ahead of a tour around the country.
Among their stops this week will be the European Marine Energy Centre in Orkney, and a trip down memory lane in St Andrews.