Duke and Duchess of Cambridge meet survivors and bereaved on Grenfell disaster fifth anniversary
Tap above to watch video report by Rags Martel
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have met with bereaved families and survivors of the Grenfell fire on the fifth anniversary of the blaze.
A private meeting took place on Tuesday between the royal couple and those directly affected by the fire that killed 72 people, Kensington Palace said, before William and Kate attended a multi-faith service at the base of the tower.
Organised by the campaign group Grenfell United, hundreds of people gathered for the service, with the couple sitting in the front row after speaking with attendees.
A 72-second silence was observed at the base of the tower by all, before applause broke out in tribute to those who died as a result of the blaze on 14 June, 2017.
Green balloons were then released in memory of the 18 children who died.
The couple watched as Cambridge Muslim College dean Shaykh Abdul Hakim Murad gave a speech calling for those accountable for the fire to be arrested.
He also criticised the government’s Rwanda immigration scheme and called for a “museum of inequality” to be established in the capital.
He said families “still have not heard the click of handcuffs” and criticised the “xenophobic discourse now sadly gaining ground” following the first deportation flights to Rwanda on Tuesday.
He added: “Grenfell shows how the powerless and underestimated can suffer, but also what they can achieve.”
The academic called for a “just closure to this story” before being applauded by hundreds listening.
The Duchess of Cambridge laid down a wreath with white flowers at the base of the tower as William looked on just behind her, before both bowed their heads and stood for a moment of quiet reflection.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan laid the next wreath, before also bowing his head in remembrance.
The royals' attendance at a Grenfell Tower memorial service was “huge” for the community and showed they “shared that feeling” of mourning on the fifth anniversary, according to a local resident.
Mother-of-five Muna Hussain said her children went to the same school as five of those who died in the fire and her household was evacuated in the days following.
When asked about William and Kate’s appearance at the service, Ms Hussain, 50, told the PA news agency: “I was happy.
“I was glad to see at least they know how we are feeling as a community and they shared that feeling.
“It makes me very happy. It’s massive, it’s huge for us. It makes you feel better.”
Eight-year-old Ayeesha, who survived the fire, recited a poem she wrote called Never Forget.
She said: “We will stay strong, we will rise up as a community, we will fight for justice together, we will always remember our friends and our neighbours, we will always remember our home.
“We can’t change the past but we can change the future. Never forget.”
The little girl smiled as she ended the poem and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge could be seen smiling as they joined in applause.
A service was held at Westminster Abbey earlier in the day, and was attended by some some survivors and family members of those who died.
Some who suffered losses decided not to attend the service in protest over the abbey's refusal to stream the footage of the service live.
Nabil and Hisam Choucair, who lost six relatives in the Grenfell fire, told ITV News earlier they wanted the world to see the service as it took place.
“We wanted to express the live footage to the world," Nabil Choucair said. "This is our day for remembering our family, our loved ones - the angels - that we should never have lost. We wanted everybody to know about it and be part of this service."
William previously accompanied the Queen to meet those affected by the fire in the days after the tragedy, including local residents, and emergency responders.
The duke and duchess most recently met Grenfell survivors during a visit to mark the launch of the National Emergencies Trust, of which the duke is patron, in November 2019.
Where you can go for help
The Grenfell Foundation was set up following the Grenfell Tower fire and provides independent support and advocacy for the former residents of Grenfell Tower and the bereaved families and dependents.
You can contact them by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Al-Manaar Counselling Service was established in 2017 in response to the Grenfell Tower fire tragedy. It works with the Together for Grenfell Project (TGP) to make the service accessible to children and families affected by the Grenfell fire.
Samaritans provides round the clock support for people when they need it most.
You can call them 24 hours a day on 116 123. They also have tips if you're concerned about someone you know, and advice if you're struggling yourself.
Mind provides advice and support to help anyone experiencing a mental health problem. They also campaign to improve services, raise awareness and promote understanding.
You can call them Monday to Friday between 9am and 6pm on 0300 123 3393. You can also text them on 86463.
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