Prince William has always worked tirelessly with various charities and good causes over the years. In many ways, he’s following in his mother’s footsteps, as Princess Diana was well known for her charitable endeavors.
What is it truly like to work alongside British royalty, though? Few people can answer this question as well as Seyi Obakin OBE, chief executive officer at Centrepoint.
In 2009, Prince William took the unprecedented step of pledging to experience the issues facing many of the UK’s young homeless and decided to spend a night sleeping on the streets. It was mid-December, and temperatures hit -4 degrees celsius.
The idea of the future King of Britain spending a night sleeping rough in freezing temperatures is surreal, but it’s something Prince William went through alongside Seyi Obakin.
Speaking to The Mirror, Obakin commented:
He has a voice that most of us will never have, I think it is to his immense credit that he’s happy to use that for the benefit of homeless people. I, for one, am grateful that he does that.
It was back in 2008 that Prince William, speaking at Centrepoint’s 40th anniversary, commented on how Centrepoint and the work it does has stayed with him since he was a young boy:
That example of selfless service that Centrepoint represents has stayed with me, and that is why it was the first charity that I wanted to be associated with. The extraordinary courage of so many of Centrepoint’s young people in rising to meet such seemingly insurmountable challenges in their lives.
Princess Diana tragically passed away in 1997. It seemed that Centrepoint had not only lost a friend but a valuable patron.
Up stepped Prince William, though, looking to continue the work that his mother had began all those years ago.
Seyi Obakin comments:
We were over the moon and delighted [when he wanted to be our patron]. The Princess of Wales, Diana, was our patron for many years, and then we had several years after she passed on when we didn’t have a patron at all. It was a great feeling for us that William wanted to carry on.
I think it says something about an incredible testament to his mother’s legacy that he wanted to be patron of Centrepoint and remain involved in finding a way through homelessness.
Often the public only sees the tip of the iceberg. Visits and work by Prince William done under the glare of the television and media cameras are well documented. Still, Seyi claims that the work done behind closed doors in private is even more crucial to the charity’s cause:
We are working with some of the most vulnerable young people in the country. At public visits, there are flashing lights and cameras, it’s not the best time for young people to open up, and that’s what private visits can do. Those private visits are time when traumatized and vulnerable people are freer in his presence.
For many royal fans, the question is whether Prince William is really as friendly and approachable as he appears on television.
Seyi Obakin has an answer to that question:
Prince William has an incredible gift, a talent, to put people at ease. I have seen young people chatting to him like old friends within minutes. I don’t think many people can do that. He can have great conversations with young people that are really helpful to them. It’s an incredible thing.
With each passing day, Prince William is creating a legacy. Both Princess Diana and Prince Charles can be thoroughly proud.