Prince Charles has paid tribute to the late Hayley Okines, who passed away earlier this month. The teenager suffered from progeria, an extremely rare genetic disorder that meant she aged eight times faster than normal.
At her funeral held in Bexhill, East Sussex on Wednesday, a letter that Charles had written to Hayley's parents was read out.
The first-in-line to the throne met Hayley back in 2004 at the annual Women's Own Children of Courage Awards at Westminster Abbey.
CLICK ON PHOTOS FOR FULL GALLERY
Hayley Okines met Prince Charles at Westminster Abbey
Charles noted how much of an inspiration Hayley was to other victims of the age-accelerating condition, and how he was so deeply impressed by "her incredible spirit and her infectious love of life" after meeting her.
Sending the letter on behalf of himself and his wife the Duchess of Cornwall, Charles wrote: "My wife and I just wanted you to know how very much our hearts go out to you following the agonizing tragedy of losing your beloved daughter, Hayley."
Prince Charles wrote that he was impressed by Hayley's "infectious love of life"
He added: "I know that she was an inspiration to millions in the way in which she dealt with the unimaginable challenge of progeria...You must be so very proud of the way that she used her brief life to make such a difference to the lives of others through her charity work and I do hope you can take some comfort, despite all the anguish you must be suffering, in her truly astounding achievements.
"It is all the most tremendous credit to the unfailing love and care which I know your family gave her. I fear that under such unspeakably sad circumstances, mere words are hopelessly and utterly inadequate.
"So although I realise only too well that it will be if no consolation whatsoever, all we can do is hold you in our most special thoughts and prayers at such a heartrending time. With the greatest sympathy, Charles."
"Deep inside I am no different from anyone," wrote Hayley Okines in her autobiography
Hayley, who defied doctors who said that she would only live to the age of 13, passed away at the beginning of April. Her mother Kerry announced the news on Facebook, writing: "My baby girl has gone somewhere better. She took her last breath in my arms at 9.39pm x."
At the funeral Kerry told mourners how she loved her daughter's "sarcasm, dry sense of humour and pure stubbornness". Hayley's father Mark added: "She never had a bad word to say about anybody. She just got on with her life and took anything life threw at her."
Hayley's mum Kerry wore turquoise to the funeral, her daughter's favourite colour
Many friends and family who went to pay their respects wore turquoise, Hayley's favourite colour.
In her autobiography entitled Old Before My Time, Hayley wrote of the disease, of which approximately 140 cases have been reported in medical history: "My life with progeria is full of happiness and good memories. Deep inside I am no different from anyone. We are all human."