The Duke of Cambridge honoured his late mother Princess Diana's legacy as he supported young people who have experienced online bullying during the coronavirus pandemic.
Prince William, 38, shocked teenage ambassadors from The Diana Award by making a surprise appearance on a video call to show his admiration for their work in Anti-Bullying Week.
The charity, created in 1997 as part of Britain’s official response to Diana’s death two years earlier, has trained more than 35,000 young people as anti-bullying ambassadors working to help victims in schools and communities.
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WATCH: Prince William surprises Anti-Bullying ambassadors during video call
Despite schools being closed for much of the year because of Covid-19, the charity’s anti-bullying ambassadors say abuse has just increasingly transferred online. Despite lockdown measures for much of this year, The Diana Award has reported that 46 per cent of young people surveyed have been bullied in the past 12 months.
William heard from four youngsters during the video call about their experiences of bullying and how they had decided to help others after overcoming it.
The second in line to the throne said: "It's just horrible and it's very moving to hear you guys talk about how you want to help others and make sure that doesn't happen to anyone else.
"That is the most important thing, that you realise this isn't going to beat you and you want to make sure that others are not going to go through the same torment that you guys have gone through.
"But I'm just so sorry that you’ve experienced these circumstances and these bullies. It's heartbreaking to hear how much of an impact it’s had on your schooling, your life, and things like that."
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William on the call with The Diana Award ambassadors
He told them: "Clearly, you guys have all taken this on and beaten it, which is fantastic. Because it can - and, sadly it does - get on top of too many people and some of them can’t come through it."
Joining William on the video call were Rose Agnew, 14, from Warwick, Jude Bedford, 16, from Cambridge, Paige Keen, 14, from Norwich, and Isabel Broderick, 15, from the West Midlands.
Rose, who has suffered from racial bullying, told the Duke why she decided to become an ambassador: "I joined The Diana Award and applied because I know what it’s like to be bullied and that’s a feeling that I want to try and prevent as many people from having as possible.
"When people hate you for a factor that you can’t control and that you can’t change, it just makes you feel so powerless. Obviously, there is nothing I can do to change my skin colour. And knowing that there are people that from the minute I was born essentially hated me just for that reason, definitely when I was younger, I found that really hard to deal with."
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William and Harry have long been supporters of the Diana Award (pictured in 2017)
She added: "I think there should be anti-bullying ambassadors in every school because if I had had in Year 8 a girl who know what I had been through and could have offered me advice and could have made me feel that I wasn't alone, if I could have had that peer-to-peer mentoring that now we can offer, my life would have been so so different.
"And you know my grades wouldn't have been as impacted and I personally wouldn't have been impacted."
During one light-hearted moment at the beginning of the call, Rose exclaimed in delight: "No way, no way," as the future King appeared on the call to surprise them.
"Well at least one of you recognised me. The other three are not quite sure..." William said, laughing.
William with The Diana Award's chief executive Tessy Ojo in 2015
Tessy Ojo, chief executive of The Diana Award, said: "Young people have faced monumental changes this year. We know from our research that mental health and wellbeing is the biggest concern with many feeling isolated from their friends.
"Paige, Rose, Jude and Isabel are passionate about tackling bullying and have continued to overcome barriers during lockdown to support their peers.
"We can't be together in person for Anti-Bullying Week this year, but this surprise video meeting with the Duke of Cambridge has further motivated these young Anti-Bullying ambassadors to continue with their work standing up to all forms of bullying."
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