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Prince William and Prince Harry become Joint Patrons of the Henry Van Straubenzee Memorial Fund

8th January 2009

Prince William and Prince Harry showed their support for a charity founded in memory of a close friend this evening.

At the launch, held at the Troubadour in Earl’s Court, London, Prince William said the decision to become Joint Patron of the Henry Van Straubenzee Memorial Fund with Prince Harry was one of the ‘easiest decisions’ he had ever had to make.

Henry Van Straubenzee was a close friend to both Princes, and a promising army officer recruit soon to start at Sandhurst Military Academy, when he was tragically killed in a car accident in 2002 aged just 18.

The Princes became friends with Henry when they attended Ludgrove Preparatory School in Berkshire in the 1990s, with Harry and Henry studying together in the same year.

The Henry Van Straubenzee Memorial Fund helps equip schools in Uganda with much-needed facilities, in tribute to Henry whose ambition it was to travel around East Africa during his gap year.

At the reception Prince William and Prince Harry were greeted by Henry’s parents Alex and Claire Van Straubenzee who had set up the Memorial Fund before making a short speech each.

Prince William, said he was "delighted" to be involved.

He 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 that Alex and Claire have chosen."

"This is the first charity of which we have both become Patron 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."

Both Princes have already raised funds for the organisation over recent years, by taking part in charity polo matches.  Prince Harry has shown his own interest in Africa by founding Sentebale with Prince Seeiso, to help children in Lesotho who have been orphaned by AIDS.

In his speech, Prince Harry said: "As some of you know Henry was one of my greatest friends and his death was truly shocking to many people.

"Henry would be so proud of his family for what they are doing in his name.

"Everything that's going on in Uganda and the way they are carrying his memory on is remarkable."

Already, the charity, which previously operated as a trust under the Charity Aid Foundation, has greatly improved the lives of the pupils at Bupadhengo Primary School in Uganda through its work, including building four classrooms to accommodate 300 children and over the years has improved facilities for 7,000 youngsters at 10 schools in the East African country. Henry had been due to spend part of his gap year teaching at the school.

Donations to the charity are used to fund a range of items from text books and desks to the construction of teachers' homes and dormitories.

Click here to visit the Henry Van Straubenzee Memorial Fund website.

Watch the video on YouTube below: