William and Kate lay wreath at Grenfell Tower memorial service five years after tragedy

14 June 2022, 16:56 | Updated: 15 June 2022, 12:07

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge at the Grenfell Memorial service.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge at the Grenfell Memorial service. Picture: Getty/Alamy

By Sophie Barnett

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have paid their respects at a vigil in west London to mark five years on from the Grenfell Tower fire.

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The royals met survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire and those who lost loved ones, on the fifth anniversary of the tragedy, where 72 people lost their lives.

Hundreds of people gathered in the shadow of the North Kensington tower for the service on Tuesday afternoon, where a silence is being held for those who died in the inferno on June 14, 2017.

A 72-second silence was observed at the base of the tower.

The royal couple were seen sitting in the front row of the anniversary service after speaking with attendees.

Ahead of the service, William and Kate held a private meeting with those directly affected by the disaster, Kensington Palace said.

Read more: 'Real parallels with Hillsborough': Shelagh Fogarty on Grenfell handling

Read more: Almost 10,000 buildings 'unsafe' with danger cladding five years on from Grenfell

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge at the Grenfell Tower memorial service.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge at the Grenfell Tower memorial service. Picture: Getty
The Duchess of Cambridge at the Grenfell Tower memorial service.
The Duchess of Cambridge at the Grenfell Tower memorial service. Picture: Alamy

Cording has been removed to allow survivors, the bereaved and members of the community to gather at the tower for a seated service.

At the end of the service, William and Kate took part in the laying of wreaths and flowers to pay tribute to the 72 residents who lost their lives during the fire.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan laid the next wreath, before also bowing his head in remembrance.

Prince William previously visited the site with the Queen soon after the fire in 2017.

Read more: Housing Secretary unable to say how many tower blocks still have dangerous cladding

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.

There was a sea of green at the service in North Kensington, with many mourners wearing green scarves and clothing to match the green hearts which adorn the wall below the tower and which have become a symbol of the tragedy.

Prince William, Duke of Cambridge speaks with attendees during a memorial service to mark the fifth anniversary of the Grenfell Tower fire.
Prince William, Duke of Cambridge speaks with attendees during a memorial service to mark the fifth anniversary of the Grenfell Tower fire. Picture: Getty

Addressing the service, Father Gerard Skinner, parish priest of St Francis of Assisi church in Notting Hill, said Grenfell Tower has become a "symbol of suffering" for those who died, their loved ones, survivors and the community, and a "symbol of shame" for liars and deceivers.

He continued: "But Grenfell is a symbol of love. It's why the heart is there at the top (of the tower), that's why it's here today.

"A reminder of the love of God, God's love for each one of us, and your love for each other.

"It is a symbol of change too - of laws and of hearts."

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."

Eighteen balloons were released during the service to represent each child who died there five years ago.