Prince William Follows in His Mother's Footsteps for First Royal Duty of the Year
Prince William kicked off his royal duties for the year with a visit to one of the charities closest to the heart of his late mother, Princess Diana.
William visited a hostel in London run by Centrepoint, one of the U.K.’s leading homelessness charities for 16-25 year olds. During his visit, the royal met with young people who have been helped by the organization to turn their lives around.
He played the Post-It note guessing game with one of the groups, asking one of the participants for clues on who he was. “Am I famous?” he asked. Followed by, “Am I a footballer?” William was David Beckham, which he got within half a dozen questions.
Sherihann Sharif, 22, from Camberwell, who is now a student, managed to guess she was Usain Bolt within a few questions. She said of the prince: “He was quite funny.”
The game was part of a session teaching a group of young people how to prepare themselves for job interviews.
“Interviews are always daunting,” William said during the event.
William took over the patronage of the charity in 2005 – following in the footsteps of his mother Diana, who had been a champion of the charity. And as this year marks the 20th anniversary of her death, several commemorations of her life and legacy are expected.
The prince was introduced to the issue of homelessness by Diana, who took both him and his brother Prince Harry from their palace home to hostels for emotional visits.
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In November, William hosted a special fundraising party at Kensington Palace attended by celebrities and his cousins Princess Beatrice and Kitty Spencer. The charity’s CEO Seyi Obakin told PEOPLE at the time, “We were his very first patronage and I have not seen him more committed than he is now to see youth homelessness ended. That’s a tough call, a big vision — but we believe it can be done.”
The commitment is reflected in other members of the family, too. Like William did several years ago, Kitty Spencer slept out for the charity on a chilly winter night, telling PEOPLE, “This was about giving people a glimpse into this reality and enforcing just how difficult the situation is that these people find themselves in.”
A key part of Tuesday’s visit was to see how the charity helps homeless young people into employment, through Workwise, which is a four-week program set up to help them overcome the hurdles to finding and holding down a job.
Centrepoint also focuses on providing young people with the tools to tackle physical and mental health problems that might be a barrier to work. Confronting the issues and stigma around mental health is a key issue for William, Princess Kate and Harry. The trio have teamed up to form Heads Together, an umbrella of several mental health charities in the U.K.
Centrepoint supports 9,000 young people directly in London, Yorkshire and the North East, and through its partner charities across the U.K., and young people typically stay with with the charity for two years. Ninety percent successfully move on.
William has already started his other job this year as an air ambulance pilot with the East Anglian Air Ambulance service based out of Cambridge.
On Thursday, the royal dad helped airlift a patient to Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge. William and his fellow pilot helped paramedics transfer the patient to the top hospital.