Kate Middleton and Prince William Pay Tribute to Soccer Club Chairman Who Died in Helicopter Crash
The royal couple visited to honor Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, head of the city's beloved football club
The couple visited Leicester in the English Midlands to meet those grieving the recent death of Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, chairman of the city’s beloved football club, who died along with four others in a helicopter crash last month.
Both William and Kate knew Srivaddhanaprabha “and wanted to visit the city to recognize the warmth and compassion that the people of Leicester and fans of Leicester City Football Club have shown in reaction to the accident,” their office said in a statement.
The couple was welcomed to the tribute site by the chairman’s widow, Aimon, his son and Vice Chairman of the Club, Aiyawatt, known as “Top,” and daughter Aroonroong, known as “Roong.”
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The royal mother of three, wearing a grey coat by Catherine Walker & Co and with her hair pulled back into a ponytail, knelt down to lay a bouquet of flowers to a growing sea of floral tributes as well as scarves and club banners. The white flowers were wrapped in blue, reflecting the team’s colors, with a wreath card that read, “To Vichai and all those who died in this terrible tragedy, you will be sorely missed. Our sincere condolences to the city of Leicester.” It was signed “William” and “Catherine.”
The couple then bowed their heads in a moment of silence.
They were then introduced to some of the players — Jamie Vardy, Wes Morgan, Kasper Schmeichal, Andy King, Harry Maguire and Ben Chilwell — and Claude Puel, the team manager. William looked solemn as he chatted to each player. The prince also shared a warm moment with Aiyawatt, putting a hand on his shoulder and telling the players, “You’re in very good hands.”
In a moving speech at the event, William said: “Catherine and I wanted to visit Leicester to pay tribute to a man that we knew, Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha and those who died alongside him in October.”
“Catherine and I also wanted to come to Leicester because of what the people of this city, and fans of this club, have shown us all over the last few weeks.
“You showed us that the losses experienced by other families need to be felt keenly by our own.”
At the time of the tragic crash, William, who is president of the Football Association, the governing body of the sport in England, issued a statement expressing his sadness at the news. They also met with a group of the club’s players and volunteers and club supporters who have helped relocate the thousands of tributes that were left outside the club’s King Power Stadium.
Srivaddhanaprabham, a businessman from Thailand, had a huge impact on the city, which lies about 100 miles north of London, and the royal couple also spent time with some of the charities which were supported by him.
After their first stop, William and Kate were set to visit the University of Leicester to hear about some of the educational programs that Leicester City Football Club has supported — including a $1.25 million donation from Srivaddhanaprabha to fund medical research and training. They were also scheduled to meet the university’s centenary scholars, a program created in tandem with the 100th anniversary of a fund established as a living memorial to those who fought and made sacrifices in WWI.