Prince William compassion was praised by Grenfell survivorsMay 27, 2023
Prince William is praised by Grenfell survivors and bereaved families for being ‘very passionate’ about the community ahead of sixth anniversary of the devastating London blaze next month
- The blaze claimed 72 lives and injured more than 70 people
Prince William was praised by Grenfell survivors and bereaved families for being ‘very passionate’ about the community ahead of the sixth anniversary of the London blaze.
William, who attended last year’s memorial, will visit Championship football club Queens Park Rangers (QPR) to hear how it provided support in the aftermath of the fire next month.
Mourning families have expressed their relief that someone in his position of power is still fighting for justice and understands the pain and suffering that is still an overwhelming reality for the sorrow-filled community and their relatives.
Others have also found comfort in the prince’s seemingly obvious frustration about having to sit in front of grieving families for another year and not discuss any positive changes that have been made in light of the tragedy.
Grenfell is less than a mile from QPR’s Loftus Road ground in Shepherd’s Bush, west London, and the devastating fire which shocked the nation on June, 14, 2017.
Prince William and Kate lay a wreath during a multi-faith and wreath laying ceremony at base of Grenfell Tower in London, Tuesday, June 14, 2022 for the fifth anniversary of the tragic incident
Mourning families have expressed their relief that someone in his position of power is still fighting for justice
The blaze claimed 72 lives and injured more than 70 people – the youngest, Leena Belkadi, was just six months and the oldest, Sheila, was 84 years old.
Survivor Paul Menacer, 29, met William, president of the Football Association, with others who escaped from the tower block fire or lost loved ones in the blaze, in the stands at QPR.
Mr Menacer said about William’s visit: ‘I think the most important thing from it is the fact that he’s very adamant and very passionate about us as bereaved survivors getting justice, which I think is very very important.’
He added: ‘The fact that we have someone in his position that is still wanting the justice and fight for us, and he made that perfectly clear to us as well that he hoped we can all get our own closures in our own sort of similar ways.’
Mr Menacer played in the Game 4 Grenfell match staged a few months after the fire at Loftus Road, which saw QPR’s director of football Les Ferdinand manage a side which took on fellow former England striker Alan Shearer’s players.
The 29-year-old has since masterminded the Grenfell Memorial Cup, a football event staged for the past two years, which it is hoped will become a permanent fixture – and William received an invitation to join in next year and a QPR shirt featuring a green Grenfell heart commemorating those who died.
Among the group who met William was Karim Mussilhy, 37, who lost his uncle in the Grenfell fire.
The blaze claimed 72 lives and injured more than 70 people
The 37-year-old who met the prince at last year’s memorial service said: ‘I feel like he understands the pain and the suffering this community has gone through and I also sense a little bit of frustration from him sitting in front of us yet again but not really talking about any positive changes.’
Campaign group Grenfell United, which represents survivors and bereaved families of the west London fire, responded with resignation earlier this month when it emerged the Grenfell Inquiry’s final report was unlikely to be published until next year.
The final hearing took place in November 2022 and a panel and inquiry team have been working on their phase two report since then.
Grenfell United said in a statement at the time: ‘It’s just another reminder of what we are forced to battle against. Six years, no justice and now an even longer road ahead.’
In a lighter moment, after the presentation of a QPR top, William was invited to join the next memorial cup and joked: ‘You don’t want to see me play – it’s not a pretty sight.’
When Mr Menacer told William he had seen him a few years ago playing six-a-side football in south London, the prince admitted he still played, but said: ‘I’m playing against 18-year-olds, they’re so fit, I’m running around like an old man.
Prince William will meet Grenfell survivors and bereaved families ahead of sixth anniversary of tower blaze
‘But I love it, as you said, for me playing football is so important – it’s (about) clearing head and keeping fit.’
During the visit, William heard about the work of the QPR in the Community Trust which turned the football club into a hub for those in need, providing a range of services from mental health support to a place to play football and a centre for donations.
Mr Ferdinand described how the club sprang into action after QPR co-owner Tony Fernandes, overseas at the time, got in contact with the advice ‘make sure you open the stadium’ and senior figures visited the Grenfell site to offer support.
Andy Evans, the trust’s chief executive officer, joined the prince when he met trust staff working with the Grenfell community and said afterwards: ‘I’ve said this before, sadly I think Grenfell is west London’s Hillsborough and it will go on.
‘We’re almost at six years, that’s 72 months for the 72 lives that we’ve lost since the disaster (and) still we’re no nearer to justice or any answers or more importantly solutions for all the other people who were living on the estate.’
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