Prince William even broke into Swahili to talk with one young man from Tanzania, Africa
William, 37, greeted the youngsters from around the world on Tuesday before they were honored with unique Diana Awards that recognized the contributions and impacts they’re making to their communities.
And the prince — who’s a frequent visitor to Africa — even broke into Swahili to talk with one man from Tanzania, Africa.
“He had time with all 20 and had read up in their stories,” Tessy Ojo, Chief executive of the Diana Award charity, tells PEOPLE. “One of the young people is from Tanzania, and he started talking to him in Swahili — and this young boy was gobsmacked! It wasn’t just one sentence. This was not something he had just read out of a book. It was truly special.”
Ojo adds, “He asked me, ‘How did you find these young people? These are truly world changers.’ And the other thing he said to the group was ‘my mother would be so proud of you.’ “
The group of young people were given their special Legacy Awards at a ceremony in the magnificent Painted Hall at the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich, London, on Tuesday night.
“We celebrated 20 wonderful young people from across the world — young people we believe truly embody the qualities of Princess Diana. They are just incredible and changing the world and defying the odds to tackle some major issues,” she tells PEOPLE.
“Some have come from pure adversity where something has happened to them and they’ve decided to try that thing for good. And some are passionate about something and made it bigger and better,” Ojo continues. “I’m proud of how much they’re committed to make change happen. We will amplify the work they’re doing over the next two years.”
Can’t get enough of PEOPLE‘s Royals coverage? Sign up for our free Royals newsletter to get the latest updates on Kate Middleton, Meghan Markle and more!
More than 22 years after Diana’s tragic death in Paris, people are still inspired by her to tackle often complex problems in their areas in her name. Ojo is proud with how that continues to resonate — and how the charity helps to harness that work.
“We’ve always known that Diana’s legacy was, and remains, about compassion, kindness and selflessness,” she says. “For us at the Diana Award those are the values we try to instill in young people by helping them understand that this is who she was and this is her legacy and we want them to carry it on.”
“It blows my mind when I see young people take that legacy and take it into their lives and make it theirs.”