Prince William & Harry will no longer be patrons of their late friend’s memorial fund

Prince William and Harry sort of “grew up” with the children of Alex and Claire van Straubenzee. The van Straubenzees were close friends of Charles, not so much with Diana, but the two families had five boys (altogether) close in age and they always played together as kids. Henry van Straubenzee was killed in a car crash in 2002. Reportedly, Harry and William were both devastated by the loss of their childhood friend. Both princes worked closely with the family’s Henry van Straubenzee Memorial Fund, attending fundraisers and honoring their friend. Well, the van Straubenzees are now shuttering the memorial fund and the British papers are making it all about Harry and William.

A charity said to be one of the last bonds between Prince Harry and Prince William has called time on the organisation. It’s said the brothers were “united by tragedy” as the van Straubenzees, set up a fund for children in Uganda. The charity was set up in memory of the family’s middle son Henry, who was killed in a car crash in 2002 aged 18. The Henry van Staubenzee Memorial Fund (HvSMF) was set up in 2007 to fight poverty in Uganda through education and both the Waleses and the Sussexes were patrons. However, the only charity to have William and Harry’s joint patronage is now in the process of wrapping up. They have been patrons since 2009.

The Sunday Times reports the family’s decision to bring an end to their charity came after their final trip to the country in February, saying they felt they had put all the energy they could into it. Henry’s mum Claire said: “It feels right to quit while we’re ahead.”

According to the charity’s official website, it has been helping over 35,000 children in the country every year, with 51 schools having been supported. It initially started off as a one-off £3,000 donation. It’s said the van Staubenzee children – Thomas, Henry and Charlie, were like family to Harry and William after they all attended the Ludgrove prep school in Berkshire together. The princes even went on holiday to Cornwall with the family as youngsters.

Thomas, now 41, and Charlie, now 35, were both ushers at Harry’s wedding to Meghan Markle in 2018, with Charlie giving a speech at the wedding reception. Thomas also gave a speech at the 2011 wedding of William and Princess Kate.

Despite William and Harry having a strained relationship of late, the issued a joint statement in 2022 to mark the 20th anniversary of ‘Henner’s’ death. It’s thought that the statement was their last together and read at the time of “the van family who we all love and adore”. They called the family’s achievements “nothing short of extraordinary” and said “Henry’s legacy will live on through the incredible achievements of what his mum and dad have accomplished over the years”.

[From The Daily Mirror]

This just reminds me that Harry has been surrounded by death for most of his life – his friends dying, his comrades-in-arms dying, the death of his mother, the death of his grandparents. Anyway, it sounds like the family simply didn’t want to work on the fund anymore and I get that. I mean, they could have appointed people to take it over rather than shuttering the whole thing, but still. And surely this isn’t the only thing left with Harry and William as patrons? What about the Diana Award? I think there are a couple of other Diana-related charities they’re both involved with? As for the general vibe of “isn’t it sad that Harry and William’s connection has dissipated and dissolved over the years” – Harry is doing what he can to remove his violent brother’s toxicity from his life. That makes him a mental-health hero in my book.

The photos in this post are from the last “charity event” Harry and William did together – the unveiling of the Diana statue at Kensington Palace in 2021. In retrospect, it’s sort of amazing they were both able to keep it together throughout the unveiling.

Photos courtesy of Avalon Red.

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

23 Responses to “Prince William & Harry will no longer be patrons of their late friend’s memorial fund”

Comments are Closed

We close comments on older posts to fight comment spam.

  1. Scooby Gang says:

    “Harry is doing what he can to remove his violent brother’s toxicity from his life.”

    This is exactly it. I wish more people would lay it out this way rather than spinning it into something it’s not.

  2. Cessily says:

    They have to put Prince Harry in the article for this to even be news..

    • aftershocks says:

      BTW, Charlie van Straubenzee gave a speech at the H&M wedding reception because Charlie and Harry are very close. Wasn’t Charlie the actual ‘best man’ to Harry? Willy was only by Harry’s side at the televised ceremony, for the optics. The same at W&K’s 2011 wedding. Although Harry was by Willy’s side for the public ceremony, in fact, Willy had chosen a different best man.

      As well, though it has never been officially stated, there are many reports that Charlie vS is one of Prince Archie’s godparents.

  3. equality says:

    It was the family’s decision after visiting the country one last time. Maybe it is a good sign that things are much improved in Uganda. Always the negative spin with the BM. A deeper dive into actual needs or improvements in Uganda would have been more interesting. It doesn’t seem to be anything to do with Will or Harry either way. You can’t be a patron of a charity that is shut down by the founders.

    • Chloe says:

      Could be that things have improved or maybe this aas the last stage in their grieving journey. This was in memory of their son after all. Doesn’t make sense to just hand it over to someone else. Maybe they felt like they couldn’t be actively involved anymore, and therefore chose to just shut it down.

      I just want to know why they chose Uganda in the first place

      • equality says:

        Another thing that the article could have covered instead of obsessing about Will and Harry.

      • aftershocks says:

        ^^ Chloe, I am not certain about “Why Uganda?” but I do know from reading Spare that Henry van Straubenzee had been studying to be a teacher. Most likely he had also done some charity work in Uganda as a young man. 🤔 Or, maybe he had been planning a charitable trip to the country at the time of his tragic death. 🤷🏽‍♀️ There may be further details mentioned in Spare that I’m not recalling.

    • Lawrenceville says:

      I think there’s more to why the charity is wrapped up and my gut feeling is its more about the corrupt govmt. officials, and others connected to the Uganda arm, stealing most of the money from the intended children and the children getting almost nothing of all the donations. Don’t ask me how I know. If you knew what I know, you’d draw the same conclusions.
      The Van Staraubenzees ran a good race, they gave their all and I send my sincerest gratitude to them for hanging in there for this long. A lot of British charities and donors already pulled out of the country because of the corruption and theft in the country.

      • Megan says:

        Corruption is rife throughout the world. Charities have successfully operated in Uganda for decades. My guess is dwindling donations driven by the cost of living crisis and persistent inflation are making it too hard to maintain a meaningful presence.

      • Lawrenceville says:

        That too is a valid point. I think it’s both. Actually I’m willing to bet a arm and a leg on corruption. I know corruption is throughout the world, but Uganda is in a league of its own.

      • Saucy&Sassy says:

        Lawrenceville, how painful for his parents that the good they hoped to do just wasn’t possible because of corruption. Yes, there could have been a decrease in donations, but that would have just made it worse because who knows if ANY of the funds would have helped the children.

        Fifteen years is a long time to try and make positive changes. I can see why they decided that the foundation needed to close. I hope the good they were able to do in spite of the corruption is what they focus on.

    • Cairidh says:

      Henry Van Straubenzee was going to go to Africa on his gap year. Before he went, he did work experience at Ludgrove, his former prep school, and that was when he died.

      Kaiser has mixed up the van straubenzees with the Van cutsems. It was the Van Cutsem father who was friends with Charles and had five sons whom William and Harry grew up hanging out with. The Van Straubenzees only had three sons and as far as I know, they weren’t friends with Charles. The oldest son Tom was in Williams class at Ludgrove, and became his best friend. The second son Henry was in Harry’s class and became his best friend. William and Harry would stay with the Van straubenzees in school holidays.

      Charlie was the younger brother, 4yrs younger. Harry seems to have become closer to him when they were older/grown up.

  4. Amy Bee says:

    Harry wrote about Henners in his book. It was a beautiful tribute to his friend.

    • aftershocks says:

      ^^ Yes, exactly. 💯 I am quite sure that all those whose lives ‘Henners’ touched, will never forget him, and that they will always honor his memory in their hearts. It is a testament to this young man that at the time of his grievous death, so many of his friends and family members were moved to be a part of this charity set up to honor him. It’s a blessing that the Memorial Fund has lasted for this many years.

      I was always moved each year in December hearing about the church service held to honor the young man’s memory and the work he did with needy children. During Meghan’s pregnancy with Archie in December 2018, she gave a poignant reading at the service from a poem by Marianne Williamson. It was an embattled low point for Meghan, with the BM’s vile smear campaign against her gathering steam. Harry wrote poignantly about his friend, Henners, in Spare, and Harry’s friendship with another brother, Charlie van Straubenzee, apparently remains close.

      Henners was described by Harry as being called and devoted to becoming a teacher. I wonder if the annual church service will end, too? Perhaps so. After all of this time, his family, and the legion of young friends he had are obviously no less grieved by his premature passing. But the deep emotions, so fresh and sharp in the immediate years after his sudden loss, have surely healed to some degree. As well, his young friends have matured and moved down divergent paths.

      What matters most are the lives of the children that have benefited by the fund. At this juncture, the van Straubenzee family are the ones best situated to make their call that the work of the fund has served its purpose. Surely, deep emotional wounds have somewhat healed through the efforts and legacy of the fund over this many years. ❤️

      • BQM says:

        I believe Charlie visited him in California. I think he was the friend pictured riding bikes with him.

  5. Becks1 says:

    you’ve gotta “love” how the BM makes it about Harry and William to get clicks, when it sounds like the family has just decided its time to end the fund. Maybe as the parents are aging its too much for them and they want to end it before they pass, etc. Who knows. It’s a deeply personal issue obviously and clearly has nothing to do with Harry and William.

  6. BeanieBean says:

    Couple of random thoughts: Harry’s posture is so much better than William’s. Harry is soldier straight, while William has the hips forward/shoulders back/head forward of his father & Uncle Andrew. I think of it as the Tim Conway stance (as Mr. Tudball to Carol Burnett’s Mrs. Wiggins [Mrs. A-Whiggins]).

    I think this charity, short-term though it was, was a thoughtful gesture by the parents on behalf of their deceased son. I’m sure there’s a reason why they created this particular charity, but we’ll never know, because the idiot English press chose to focus the story on Harry & William.

    • BQM says:

      Philip, another military man, had that erect posture his whole life. Harry will probably be the same.

  7. Mary Pester says:

    So a family, who lost a very much loved son and brother, set up a charity to remember his beautiful legacy, ran it for years, but now think the time is right to close it. It’s wonderful what they have done and the amount of lives they have helped, but sure, the rags are going to twist it. What a disgusting insult to this forever young man’s family, and how sick have the media become!!?

    • BayTampaBay says:

      Though the van Straubenzee family probably have several reason for closing the charity fund, I think the van Straubenzee family want to distance themselves from the House of Windsor. Closing the charity fund easily and very tidily accomplishes this goal.

      The van Straubenzee family can still make donations to other charities benefitting children in Uganda or other African countries.

      • Saucy&Sassy says:

        BayTampaBay, you should read Lawrenceville’s post above. Evidently, there was a lot of corruption and little of the money makes it to the people the charity was trying to help. This is not just for this family’s foundation, but evidently an issue across the board.

  8. Tennyson.sarah says:

    If I’m not mistaken Uganda reinstated death penalty for gay people last year. Now, this family had 3 sons, one might be gay, or it’s a gay friendly family, and the appalling records for human rights, including for gay people had them stop the charity.

  9. bisynaptic says:

    Disgraceful how they made this story about Will and Harry.