As Britain's celebration of Mother's Day approaches, Prince William has spoken publicly for the first time about the pain of losing his mother as a young teen.
The prince spoke out at a charity launch for the Child Bereavement Group's campaign "Remember on Mother's Day." He told the crowd, many of whom had lost loved ones, that he feels nothing but emptiness on Mother's Day.
"Never being able to say the word 'mummy' again in your life sounds like a small thing. However, for many, including me, it is now really just a word -- hollow and evoking only memories," he told the crowd.
The future king was just 15 when his mother died and until now has not spoken publicly about his loss. In the speech, he said "that losing a close family member is one of the hardest experiences anyone can endure."
Following in his mother's footsteps, Prince William became Royal Patron of the charity yesterday, a cause that supports families both when a child dies and when a child is bereaved. His mother, Princess Diana, had attended the organization's launch 15 years ago and it was one of the many charities she supported until her death in 1997.
The charity was started by one of Princess Diana's friends, Julia Samuel, patron founder of the organization. She told ABC News.com that Diana decided to help launch the charity as a favor to her and now she's thrilled to have William on board too.
"I cannot even begin to say how delighted we are that Prince William has agreed to be our patron. It will make a huge difference to raising awareness of the charity and its work in supporting families and professionals when the unthinkable happens," she said.
Samuel told ABC News.com that the prince is the perfect person to front the Mother's Day campaign. "We were all very moved by the honesty of what he said. Some of the stigma is taken away when someone like him talks about bereavement, which is very helpful for the charity."
After the speech, William held a series of private meetings with families that had benefited from the charity. He hopes he can now use his experiences to help others. Writing in the Daily Mail newspaper he said, "I took on this role because I know what it is like to lose someone you love so much."
Prince William on Loss of Mother Diana
William told the Daily Mail, "Life is altered as you know it, and not a day goes past without you thinking about the one you have lost."
He added, "However, I also know that over time it is possible to learn to live with what has happened and, with the passing of years, to retain or rediscover cherished memories."
His brother Harry was 12 when Diana died in a car accident in Paris with her boyfriend, Dodi Fayed. Prince Harry, unlike his brother, has spoken about Diana publicly on a few occasions.
In a BBC interview to mark his 21st birthday, the third in line to the throne spoke of his desire to continue his mother's humanitarian work and the closeness he felt towards his brother since his mother died.
Royal author and journalist Judy Wade told ABC News.com that a few hours after the prince's heartfelt and emotional speech he was laughing and joking as he hosted his first formal dinner at the royal palace's state apartments. The dinner was to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the charity Centerpoint, a London group that aids homeless youth and an organization that was also very close to his mother's heart.
"He's just carrying on with his mother's work," Wade told ABC News.com. "He is taking on Diana's mantle, he wants to follow in her footsteps and do the work she didn't finish."
Prince William reminded those yesterday of his mother's ability to reach out and touch people's hearts. His words no doubt will help thousands of people across the UK this coming Mother's Day. "For those who have lost the one they love, rest assured they will be watching over you," he told the Daily Mail.