British Royal Family

Prince Harry praises parents who care for gravely ill children at Wellchild reception

The young royal opened the doors of Buckingham Palace for the sparkling event.

By Candice Mehta-Culjak
Prince Harry, Wellchild

Prince Harry channeled his late mother as he hosted a special party at Buckingham Palace for WellChild, a charity which helps seriously ill children and young people be cared for at home instead of hospital -- whenever possible.

The event was held to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the admirable charity, of which the much-loved royal has acted as a royal patron for the past ten years.

Harry, 32, met with a handful of inspiring mothers and fathers during the reception, many of whom played a part in the online campaign #notanurse_but -- a parent-driven initiative designed to highlight the reality of caring for a child with exceptional health needs at home.

Harry told them: "You've been able to share your experiences. Now you're professionals at this. You've got to try to share these experiences and help other people. I'd imagine it's one hell of a decision to say I want my children at home."

Prince Harry chatted happily with inspirational parents and caregivers at the event.
Prince Harry chatted happily with inspirational parents and caregivers at the event.
He is even believed to have cracked a few jokes with the event's attendees.
He is even believed to have cracked a few jokes with the event's attendees.

Among those in attendance was Hayley Smallman, 40, whose daughter, Holly, has cerebral palsy.

After meeting the Prince, Hayley said: "Our normal routine is so far away from this world and to be invited to Buckingham Palace for the day – it's just elevated us completely. All week we have been giddy with excitement."

She also recalled the touching moment Harry met her daughter at the WellChild Awards in 2015.

"Before he actually spoke to Holly, he said to me, 'How am I best to communicate with her?' I said, 'It would be best if you held her hand and talked to her so she could feel you,' use her other senses,” she said, adding: “And he gets down on his knee, and he holds her hand."

The 32-year-old has been a royal patron of Wellchild for ten years.
The 32-year-old has been a royal patron of Wellchild for ten years.
The charity works to support families of children and young people with exceptional health needs so that they can be cared for at home, rather than in hospital.
The charity works to support families of children and young people with exceptional health needs so that they can be cared for at home, rather than in hospital.

The prince recently payed a secret visit to the Great Ormond Street Hospital in London to check up on Ollie Carroll, six, who he first met at the WellChild Awards last October.

The young boy, from Poynton, Cheshire, suffers from Batten disease, which has led to him losing his ability to speak and walk.

The unofficial engagement, described by a Kensington Palace spokeswoman as a "private visit," quickly made headlines after a photograph posted to the Carroll family’s Facebook page showed Harry with Ollie tucked up lovingly in his lap.

Harry and Ollie share an undeniable bond. (Image via Facebook/Ollie's Army Battling Against Battens)
Harry and Ollie share an undeniable bond. (Image via Facebook/Ollie's Army Battling Against Battens)
The much-loved royal first met little Ollie at the WellChild Awards last October.
The much-loved royal first met little Ollie at the WellChild Awards last October.

“For an hour Prince Harry sat with us talking and playing with our children, laughing and making memories,” the young boy’s parents wrote on Facebook. “The very thing our children want the most in life, to be happy and having fun.”

“We feel so much pride knowing that Ollie and Amelia [Ollie’s sister] are touching the lives of the people they meet, with their love and their strength,” the post read. “The love, the support and the laughter within that treatment room on Tuesday will stay with us forever.”

The tender moment was lauded as an echo of the charity work carried out by his beloved mother, Diana, Princess of Wales.

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