While attending the official opening of the Manchester Arena memorial, Prince William got candid about his personal journey with grief.
“For Catherine and I, it is very important that we are with you here today. To remember the 22 lives so brutally taken. To acknowledge the hundreds of lives that were irrevocably changed and to pay tribute to the resilience of this great city,” William, 39, who was joined by wife Duchess Kate, said during a heartfelt speech on Tuesday, March 10. “I remember only too well the shock and grief on the faces of those I met when I visited Manchester in the days following the atrocity.”
The Duke of Cambridge noted that he knew “the pain and the trauma” has not gone away following the 2017 bombing, which occurred during an Ariana Grande concert and killed 22 people. “As someone who lives with his own grief, I also know that what often matters most to the bereaved is that those we have lost are not forgotten,” he continued. There is comfort in remembering. In acknowledging that, while taken horribly soon, they lived. They changed our lives.”
William added: “They were loved, and they are loved. It is why memorials such as the Glade of Light are so important. Why Catherine and I so wanted to be amongst you today. And we remember the entirety of the Manchester community who responded in the most heart-warming and life-affirming ways possible to support those affected.”
The U.K. native called for everyone to keep the victims and their families in their hearts, saying, “On that day you told each other that you would not look back in anger. And you showed the world the true heart of this extraordinary place. So, when we come to this memorial let’s look back with love for those we lost.”
Over the years, William has opened up about dealing with the loss of his mother, Princess Diana. In August 1997, the late Princess of Wales died at age 36 after sustaining injuries in a car crash in Paris. At the time of her passing, William was 15 and his younger brother, Prince Harry, was 12.
“Slowly, you try to rebuild your life, you try to understand what happened. I kept myself busy, as well, to allow you to get yourself through that initial shock phase. We’re talking maybe as much as five to seven years afterwards,” William shared during HBO’s documentary Diana, Our Mother: Her Life and Legacy, in 2017. “You know, there was times when you look to someone or something for strength and I very much felt she was there for me.”
In July 2021, William and Harry, 37, honored their late mom with a statue that they commissioned 20 years after her death.
“Today, on what would have been our mother’s 60th birthday, we remember her love, strength and character – qualities that made her a force for good around the world, changing countless lives for the better,” the brothers said in a joint statement during their reunion at Kensington Palace in London for the unveiling. “Every day, we wish she were still with us, and our hope is that this statue will be seen forever as a symbol of her life and her legacy.”