Inside Prince William's Touching Personal Advice To Deborah James' Family

Dame Deborah James spent the final five years of her life promoting bowel cancer awareness. Before the beloved BBC host's death on June 28, 2022, James raised over $8 million for her Bowel Babe Fund, per The New York Times. Her efforts also attracted royal attention. "Every now and then, someone captures the heart of the nation with their zest for life & tenacious desire to give back to society," Prince William and Catherine Middleton, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, posted on Twitter. "@bowelbabe is one of those special people. Her tireless efforts to raise awareness of bowel cancer & end the stigma of treatment are inspiring."

Following her diagnosis, James wrote a book, as well as The Sun's online column, "Things Cancer Made Me Say." She also co-hosted the BBC podcast, "You, Me, and The Big C," per The Times. James' second book, "How to Live When You Could Be Dead," is being published posthumously on August 18, per Penguin U.K.

In May, James' work received formal recognition when the British government bestowed the honor of Damehood. A source told The Sun that the Duke of Cambridge played a key role in the decision, saying, "William moved heaven and earth to make sure she got this award that she so richly deserves." 

The day after the damehood was announced, William visited James and her family. Besides presenting the honor, the prince took the time to provide some heartfelt words.

Prince William demonstrated compassion and humor

When Dame Deborah James and her family got the news about the upcoming royal visit, they experienced a mix of nervousness and excitement. "William was so kind and he put us all at ease," James posted on her Instagram account. "It was such a special day for my whole family, making memories to last a life time."

A month after James's death, her husband, Sebastien Bowen, remembered that special day. "He felt like a friend but he was the future king," Bowen told The Times. To celebrate, James was served three alcoholic beverages—something her previous treatments had prohibited. When William joined the family for champagne, Bowen recalled the Duke of Cambridge saying, "'I'm glad to see you are triple parked.'" The gesture relaxed everybody, and was "an immediate ice-breaker," according to Bowen.

Besides offering humor, William also provided compassion for James' children, Hugo, age 14, and Eloise, age 12. "He's obviously been through similar grief with the loss of his mother so he gave powerful advice to the children that will stay with them for ever," Bowen said.

William has also spoken on the topic of grief and loss in more public settings. "As someone who lives with his own grief, I also know that what often matters most to the bereaved is that those we have lost are not forgotten," William said during a speech to honor the victims of the 2017 Manchester Arena bombings, per Newsweek. "There is comfort in remembering."

Prince William makes a point to comfort grieving children

Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, was 15 years old when his mother, Princess Diana, tragically died. Speaking on the BBC documentary, "A Royal Team Talk: Tackling Mental Health," William was candid about his grief. "I think when you are bereaved at a very young age, any time really, but particularly at a young age, I can resonate closely to that — you feel pain like no other pain," he said (via Express).

Helping grieving children has been part of William's royal duties since 2009, when he became Royal Patron of Child Bereavement UK. In 2017, during a visit to one of the organization's centers, William talked to a girl whose father had died. "I lost my mummy when I was very young too," the prince told 9-year-old Aoife, per People. "Do you speak about your daddy? It's very important to talk about it, very, very important." Marie, Aoife's mother, was almost moved to tears. "Sometimes it hurts but we can remember the happy things too. It is so important to talk," she said, per USA Today.

In January 2022, Prince William talked with 11-year old Deacon Glover about the death of his mother. "It's difficult, but it gets easier. I promise," William said, per Newsweek. When the young boy was disappointed that the royal visitor was not one of his sports heroes (via the Daily Mail), William granted Deacon's wish. Three weeks later, the prince arranged for the boy to meet Burnley footballer Nick Pope, per Mirror.