Prince William Is Set To Present An MBE To The Mother Of Henry Van Straubenzee, Harry’s Childhood Best Friend Who Tragically Passed Away In A Car Accident At The Age Of 18 In 2002

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Prince William Is Set To Present An MBE To The Mother Of Henry Van Straubenzee, Harry's Childhood Best Friend Who Tragically Passed Away In A Car Accident At The Age Of 18 In 2002

On Wednesday, the Prince of Wales will bestow an MBE upon the mother of Prince Harry’s childhood best friend, who tragically lost his life in a car accident at the age of 18.

Prince William expressed a personal interest in conducting the investiture ceremony at Windsor Castle due to his close ties with Claire van Straubenzee and her family.

In December 2002, Mrs. Van Straubenzee’s middle son, Henry, lost his life in a car crash near Ludgrove Prep School in Berkshire, where he was working during his gap year. He was scheduled to travel to Uganda before commencing his studies at Newcastle University.

Fondly known as “Henners,” he shared a deep friendship with the Duke of Sussex, who affectionately recounted their escapades at Ludgrove in his memoir, Spare. Describing Henry as “all heart,” Prince Harry fondly remembered him as the only one to inquire about his mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, following her passing.

Henry van Straubenzee, who died in a car crash aged 18, was Prince Harry’s childhood friend 

In 2007, the Van Straubenzee family established the Henry van Straubenzee Memorial Fund to support children in Uganda, particularly at the school where Henry had intended to teach.

Two years later, Prince William and Prince Harry became joint patrons of the charity, which successfully completed over 1,800 projects across East Uganda. Despite their subsequent estrangement, the brothers issued a joint statement commemorating the 20th anniversary of Henry’s passing in December 2022.

However, the family has now decided to close the charity at the end of this year, expressing gratitude for its enduring legacy in honoring their son’s memory and aiding their journey through grief.

Mrs. Van Straubenzee, aged 69, was honored with an MBE in the 2024 New Year’s Honours list for her contributions to children’s education in Uganda. Her husband, Alex, aged 73, and two other sons, Thomas and Charlie, are anticipated to join her at Windsor Castle for the ceremony.

While the Duke of Sussex is expected to be in London to attend a service commemorating the 10th anniversary of the Invictus Games at St. Paul’s Cathedral, he is not expected to be present at the investiture ceremony.

Reflecting on Henry’s untimely demise, Prince Harry likened the news to the moment when his father, then Prince Charles, informed him of his mother’s passing in 1997. Both Harry and William attended Henry’s funeral, with the Duke recalling the emotional moment when he embraced Henry’s parents and brothers.

The Van Straubenzee family has been likened to a second family to the Princes, with Thomas and Charlie remaining close to them. Thomas, godfather to Princess Charlotte, is often regarded as the Prince of Wales’s closest friend. Meanwhile, both William and Harry served as ushers at Thomas’s wedding in June 2013.

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