The royal dad took place in an anti-bullying activity for the Diana Award charity

By Simon Perry
Updated December 07, 2015 02:10 PM
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Prince William has always known he is different. And on Monday he spelled it out: “I AM A PRINCE,” he wrote as he took part in a special project highlighting diversity.

Attending an anti-bullying workshop run by the charity named after his late mother, the Diana Award, the royal, 33, was was asked to join children in an activity identifying differences.

British TV singing coach Carrie Grant, who hosted the exercise at Bournville College in Birmingham, asked William and the kids to write out something that “defines you.”

“I was fascinated by what he might write and how daring he would be,” Grant tells PEOPLE. “I thought he might write, ‘My mother died,’ because that’s in the public arena and does make him different amongst his peers perhaps,” she says. “And Harry’s been talking a little bit about that in the press.

“But I love the fact that in a way he did challenge us, because no one else in the room could say that. We all think, ‘Aren’t you lucky?’ But that comes with responsibility and a load of other things he’s had to process and journey through. There are challenges to that.”

The exercise came at the beginning of an afternoon of fun and learning that included an inspiring monologue from 10-year-old Shahzaib Ali Butt.

“I was telling him bullying is wrong and young people have the chance to change the world, and everyone’s feelings,” says Shahzaib. “It’s amazing he came here.”

After discussion of a “Stand Up Day” proposed for next May 27, 2016, 18-year-old Zainab Ali said of William, “It’s brilliant that he came today and shows the unity across all different types of people out there.”

The royal dad “is listening and contributing his own thoughts as a parent,” says the charity’s anti-bullying campaign head, Alex Holmes. “But also he’s interested in the role young people can play and social media. That’s really impressive, in terms of his understanding of the issues facing young people and all of us growing up in the digital age.”

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In a private meeting after a presentation made by children from Levenshulme High School, William heard from practitioners, teachers, charity leaders and parents about widening the discussion.

“We know he’s a prince, but he’s also a parent and has concerns about his own children growing up in society and what society he’s bringing his children up into like we all have as parents,” says Grant. “That was underpinning everything we discussed.”

At the end of the day, William was shown a composite photograph comprising photos of himself, which he had posed for earlier, some young people, Diana Award chief executive Tessy Ojo and Holmes.

“It’s an incredible image,” says Ojo. “It says we are one, a symbol of our unity. That’s what we want young people to go away with. It is ultimately one head made up of different parts.”

She adds, “He understands that he’s different. We all have something unique about us.

“But what we need to do is normalize what looks like a difference. We are all part of one.”

The charity has trained 16,000 ambassadors to 3,000 schools in the U.K., and some of them were in the room gaining new experience and inspiration. William’s visit came as an online survey found more than half of young people use negative terms used to describe their appearance, while an overwhelming 76 percent report not always fitting in at school, the Diana Award says.

The visit built on William’s ongoing work highlighting the impact of bullying on a child’s mental health.

In September, William took part in another workshop on anti-bullying with the charity. It was part of his and wife Kate’s campaign to boost care and support for the mental health of young people.