Princes William (left) and Harry
01/09/2009 at 08:00 AM EST
invoked the memory of his mother Thursday night as he spoke at the launch of a charity dedicated to a close friend who died in a car crash – like Princess Diana.
William, 26, speaking at the reception to mark the day
he and brother Harry became patrons of the Henry Van Straubenzee Memorial Fund
, called becoming a patron of the charity, which helps schools in Uganda, Africa, the "easiest decision I've had to make."
Standing alongside his brother, William said, "Having lost someone so close in similar circumstances, Harry and I understand how important it is to keep their memory alive, there's no finer way than [his family] have chosen."
He continued, "This is the first charity of which we have both been patrons and it couldn't have been a better one, as Henry was such a very close friend of ours and because we believe so strongly in the need to alleviate poverty and assist development in African countries."
The charity was set up in the name of the princes' friend who died in a car crash in 2002 – five years after Princess Diana was killed when the Mercedes she was traveling in crashed in Paris.
The princes arrived on foot for the party at the Troubadour Cafe in Earls Court, London, after their convoy got caught in the heavy west London commuter traffic.
When the formalities were over, the princes left, but Harry reappeared later and the party continued until after 2 a.m.