Cookies by royal command? Yes please!
“See the biscuits lying around?” a smiling Prince William joked with the winners midway through the reception, before pointing to a pile of cookies in front of a signed photo of himself and Kate Middleton. “This plate is full behind you. That means you have not been trying hard enough!”
The Teen Heroes are awarded to outstanding youngsters who have proven their dedication to helping others through selfless, brave and exceptional achievements.
The winners — who have all overcome enormous personal difficulties — gathered at the palace to receive special Teen Hero badges from the royal brothers.
“It’s really rewarding to be acknowledged in that way,” says transgender finalist Ellie, 16.
Earlier, Prince Harry told Ellie, “Hopefully you have realized that there are many, many, many other people in exactly the same position as you.”
Other Teen Heroes honored at the reception include Tofi, a 12 year-old poet who uses his gift with words to inspire people of all ages and contribute to a number of mental health projects within his local community.
“It’s just really crazy. You’d never think that you’d be here,” he said after meeting the royals. “When you seen them on TV, you’re like, ‘They’re going to be really posh when you meet them,’ but they’re actually really friendly.”
Another winner, 16 year-old Calvin, was just as surprised by the impact that meeting William and Harry had on him.
“The shock is still sinking in,” said Calvin, who has Asperger’s syndrome and suffers with severe anxiety, clinical depression and psychosis. Despite this, he has spoken at more than 200 community events and helped organize a three-day music festival to raise funds for mental health awareness in association with the charity Dorset Mind.
“It really inspires me to carry on with the work I’m doing,” Calvin added after meeting William and Harry. “I really want to go out there and do more: Keep campaigning, keep talking, keep doing speeches. Prince Harry said himself this is not the end; it’s just the beginning.”
The Teen Heroes will receive their full awards at the Radio 1 Teen Awards on Oct.22. The event — held in front of an audience of 10,000 14-17 year-olds at London’s SSE Arena — will also feature live performances from Liam Payne , Rita Ora, The Vamps, Camila Cabello and Dua Lipa.
“It was enough on its own to be special just to get the badge, but to get it given to you by William and Prince Harry, it just kind of tops it,” said finalist Oliver, 15, who attended the reception with his 13-year-old sister Holly.
Together the siblings provide psychological and physical care for their mother, who suffers from dissociative identity disorder. Yet, along with their brother, they have also set up a charity to support other young carers of parents with mental health difficulties.
“I just met Prince William and Prince Harry,” adds Oliver. “It’s just the average Wednesday, you know!”