This afternoon The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry hosted a garden party at Buckingham Palace for children whose parents have died in the line of duty. Taking place on the palace lawns, there was dancing, parachuting, face paint, water balloons(!) and sports.
850 young people who have suffered a loss because their parents served in the armed forces filed through the palace were invited, along with four charities: Child Bereavement UK, of which William is patron, Scotty’s Little Soldiers, Winston’s Wish and the armed forces charity SSAFA, who were there to provide information on services or support for children who needed it.
Full Effect and Coach Core hosted workshops in beatboxing, breakdancing and other sports on the lawns, to keep guests entertained, along with ventriloquist Nina Conti, who had the crowd in giggles as she used her oversized-mouth puppets, whilst singer Jess Glynne took to the stage. Britain’s Got Talent-winning magician Lance Corporal Richard Jones wowed the youngsters with his tricks.
Children took part in activities including cupcake decorating, chocolate making, science experiments, and arts and crafts.
The celebration was planned just before garden party season begins, as The Queen invites people from all walks of life who have made an impact on their communities and professional fields to enjoy tea and cake in the palatial setting.
Prince Harry will also be hosting a similar shindig on 30th May for the Not Forgotten Association, which provides leisure and recreation for wounded serving and ex-service men and women with disabilities.
“Their Royal Highnesses have arranged the event as a way to acknowledge and honour the fact that a number of young children have had to come to terms with the loss of someone very close to them at a young age,” a statement from Kensington Palace said. Of course, William and Harry dealt with a similar loss in their childhood.
“The Duke and Duchess and Prince Harry hope the event will provide an opportunity for these children to broaden their support networks amongst other families with similar experiences.”
William, Kate and Harry mingled with the guests – which included Lee Rigby’s widow and two sons – chatting to them about their and getting involved with the activities, too.
Widow Rebecca Rigby, 34, said: “It means so much that the Royals put this event on and are showing us their support. It’s so important for Jack [her son] to be able to speak to other children and know that other children have gone through the same thing as he has.”
Prince Harry was seen having a go at plate spinning with some children, whilst the Duchess was invited onto the terrace to launch water balloons into the crowd!
The grand finale came as the RAF Falcons display team parachuted over the roof of the palace and into the gardens – what a sight that must have been for London tourists! Watch a video below.
Prince Harry spoke to the crowds, telling the children: “We’re here to celebrate you.”
“We’re here to remind you that we as a family, and as a nation will never, ever forget the sacrifices that all of you here have made. We wanted to give you an opportunity to know that you are part of, sadly, a very large group of fantastic people. The three of us, and all of our family, wanted to thank you so, so much for everything you’ve done.
“I can assure you that Buckingham Palace gardens have not seen this much fun, ever,” the Prince said of the open-air festival-style event.