Ahead of the sixth anniversary of the Grenfell Tower fire, The Prince of Wales has visited the Queens Park Rangers Football Stadium to hear how the club has provided support in the years since the fire.
Prince William began the visit by hearing from the CEO of the QPR in the Community Trust and former footballer, Les Ferdinand, about how they helped build the Trust’s community response following the disaster.
A fire ripped through a high-rise block of flats, part of a social housing project just a stones throw from Kensington Palace., in June 2017. Unsafe cladding on the building saw 72 people lose their lives.
An inquiry into the tragedy is set to be published next year.
The footballer told William: ‘I grew up on the Grenfell estate. What these guys did from day one was absolutely phenomenal. I had a message on my phone saying ‘make sure you open the stadium’.’
The Stadium has become a focal point for the community following the fire.
The Prince of Wales then spoke to survivors of the fire and staff at the QPR and asked if ‘it is harder or easier because everyone knows the story?’
They discussed how football has helped them since the fire, as well as what the future holds.
He continued: ‘Grenfell is a name that lots of people have sadly heard. So, if you have a bereavement like that versus if you have a private bereavement where you have an option to tell people what’s going on – how hard is it to deal with one or the other?
‘Because one thing I’m worried about is the community is always together and there are lots of investigations taking place, that closure seems a long way off.’
William, president of the FA, highlighted how ‘we’re always talking about it. And I advocate talking about it. But I do worry sometimes that the bubble is so big for Grenfell.’
Survivor Paul Menacer then presented the Prince with a football shirt from the Grenfell Memorial Cup, an annual football game held to support survivors. The personalised QPR shirt features a green heart with the number 72 in the middle – marking the number of people who perished.
Mr Menacer quizzed the heir to the throne as to whether he would make an appearance during annual Cup. William replied that he still plays football as a way of ‘clearing my head and keeping fit’, but he’s ‘playing against 18-year-olds now and I can’t keep up with them. I’m running around like an old man.’
💚 A Royal visit to remember Grenfell.
— QPR FC (@QPR) May 26, 2023
The Royal Family, especially The Prince of Wales, has supported the survivors of the fire since it happened. In 2017, Elizabeth II and the Duke of Cambridge made an unannounced visit to meet victims of the horrific Grenfell Tower fire.
The following year, the Duchess of Cornwall visited a local school which was affected by the fire, where former pupils and some pupils attending the school died in the fire, as well as a member of staff, and The Duchess of Sussex supported the community with fundraising through a cookbook.
QPR Trust CEO Andy Evans said of the visit: ‘[William] said what we have done around Grenfell was particularly impressive which was great to hear.
‘It was a day that makes me proud of the club and the Trust.’