Much ado is made in the press when someone breaks etiquette rules with Britain’s royal family. There was Australia’s Paul Keating, Canada’s Governor General David Johnston, and Lebron James.
All created major dustups when they dared to touch a royal. Typically, a formal handshake is considered the standard protocol when meeting a member of the royal family. But that protocol was broken by Prince William himself.
This past June, a horrific fire at Grenfell Tower in London claimed the lives of roughly 80 people and displaced hundreds. In the hours and days following the fire, many survivors didn’t know the whereabouts of their loved ones. Some were dead or unaccounted for.
When Prince William and Queen Elizabeth visited with victims two days after the event, both were visibly affected by what they saw and heard. One of the survivors at the rescue shelter was 78-year-old Fatima Jafari. Her husband, Ali, 82, was missing and had not been seen since trying to escape. He was believed to have gotten trapped in an elevator.
A weeping Mrs. Jafari was spotted by the prince and a worker explained her story. In a gesture reminiscent of his late mother Diana, Prince William embraced her as she cried. In that moment, no royal rules of etiquette mattered, just the heart wrenching sobs of a distraught wife and mother.
No stranger to tragedy himself, he offered the woman words of comfort. Sadly, weeks later it was confirmed that her husband was among the dead.
During his visit, Prince William and the Queen spoke with other survivors and rescue personnel, encouraging them to seek assistance to cope with trauma and bereavement. The prince vowed to return and to do whatever he could to help.
Since then he and Prince Harry have visited and reconnected with survivors of Grenfell, including schoolchildren. Through their Royal Foundation, they (along with Duchess Kate) have set up a community hub that offers mental health support for those affected by the fire.
They’ve partnered with local charities and experts who will continue to provide guidance in the aftermath of the devastating tragedy.
In addition to helping individuals and families who are suffering from what happened, plans are also in the works for the princes to work with emergency personnel who witness tragic events like these. Prince William believes the emotional and mental health of first responders is something that’s also important.
The royals showing up as a source of comfort and support touched a lot of victims. Click on the clip below to see a photo of the encounter between Prince William and Mrs. Jafari, and to hear how the royals’ visit affected her.
Over the years, royal protocols have relaxed a bit and adapted to the changing times. But it is not surprising that the prince was this warm, as he and his brother have earned reputations for their sincerity and kindness. In situations like these, that’s all that’s needed.
What are your thoughts on royal protocol? What do you think of Prince William’s kindness to this grieving survivor?