Prince William Bares His 'Emptiness' Since Losing Diana

Prince William Bares His 'Emptiness' Since Losing Diana
Prince William (left) and the late Princess Diana
PA Photos/Landov; Tim Graham/Corbis

03/13/2009 AT 09:30 AM EDT

Mother's Day isn't easy for Prince William – it stirs up the palpable "emptiness" he says he feels since losing his mother, Princess Diana, more than 10 years ago.

William was only 15 when his mother died in 1997, and he and Prince Harry were watched by millions of people around the world as they walked behind the carriage carrying her coffin. They rarely speak about her death and the pain that they felt.

But, now 26, William has accepted a new responsibility – royal patron of the Child Bereavement Charity, to which Diana was closely linked through her life – and he addressed families at a London event about how "losing a close family member is one of the hardest experiences anyone can endure."

"Never being able to say the word 'Mummy' again in your life sounds like a small thing. However, for many, including me, it is now really just a word – hollow and evoking only memories," he said. With Mother's Day marked in the U.K. later this month, the charity, which launched in 1994, is hoping that a new campaign will raise awareness of the needs faced by those who have lost a child.

Looking slightly flushed, he added, "I can therefore wholeheartedly relate to the Mother's Day campaign, as I too have felt and still feel the emptiness on such a day as Mother's Day."

The Prince also told Lilli May, 47, whose son Benny, 12, died in May 2007 when he accidentally hanged himself on a looped kitchen towel, that it was important to deal with the sense of loss to prevent being overcome.

"Exactly, it's that snowballing effect," May told reporters. "It's exactly what happened to me, just trying to blank it. Everyone has their own way of dealing with it. "He's lost his mother. He was saying you can't ignore it, there comes a point when you have to address issues, and find time to do that."

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