Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick has revealed the Duke of Cambridge regularly writes to bereaved police families and officers who have been through traumatic experiences.
The comment from the country’s most senior police officer came after William hosted a reception to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Metropolitan and City Police Orphans Fund which he supports as patron.
During the event hosted at St James’ Palace, William shared a poignant moment with four-year-old George McParland, whose father Sergeant Ian McParland died from cancer in 2017.
He knelt down to chat to the youngster who held on to his teddy Pierre and the pair joked about the toy as his mother Claire McParland watched.
And he gave some advice to children who were bereaved, telling them his mother died when he was 15 and that they should talk and look after each other.
Dame Cressida, who is the fund’s president, said after the reception: “He writes quite often to families, sometimes to officers themselves and it’s really very much appreciated.”
“He clearly has a passion for supporting people in public service, whether that’s defence, military or emergency services and with his background experience he knows a bit about the challenges these people will face.
“So many people commented to me you can see the empathy when he’s talking to people – it really means a massive amount to them, they know it means something to him, which is lovely. We’re lucky to have him as our patron.”
The duke agreed to be the fund’s patron in 2017 and it was announced at the event William will stay on for another three years.
The Metropolitan Police Orphanage opened in October 1870 and by the following year had extended its services to include the City of London Police.
In 1937 the orphanage closed and the charity became the present fund which has supported more than 15,200 children to date.
The fund also helps with educational costs such as field trips, school equipment and extra-curricular activities including sports and music clubs.
In a speech to mark the event William said: “Over the past 150 years – as the oldest police charity in the world – the fund has provided care to the children of police officers in their hour of greatest need.
“Our society is defined by how we look after those who keep us all safe. It matters deeply that we help the families who play such an important role in supporting them.
“I am therefore immensely proud that the Metropolitan and City Police Orphans Fund provides such comfort and reassurance to the children of police officers who have so sadly lost their lives or livelihoods.”
William also chatted to Osnat Webb and her 10-year-old daughter Emma, the wife and daughter of Scotland Yard officer Ian Webb who died five years ago from cancer.
The duke’s mother Diana, Princess of Wales died in 1997 in a Paris car crash and he gave some advice to the young schoolgirl, telling her: “You make sure you talk about your dad to your mother. Talk about him so you keep him alive.”
The 10-year-old, from Camberley in Surrey, said after meeting the royal he had mentioned he needed to talk to someone following his mother’s death and it was “quite emotional”.
William met Nicole, 12, and 11-year-old Kian Samuel, whose adoptive mother, Bernie Looney, died three years ago. The siblings now live with Julie Samuel and her daughter Millie, 15.
He told them: “It’s very important that if you feel anything, you talk about it. I lost my mum when I was 15.
Turning to Millie, the duke added: “It’s a difficult age, isn’t it? Which is why it’s important to talk. But you’ve got each other’s backs.”