William and Kate speak to family whose son was 'saved' by Shout

The picture of dignity: Prince William and Kate Middleton speak to a suicidal 12-year-old who was helped by their text counselling service as they quietly continue their duties amid raging royal war

  • Duke and Duchess of Cambridge took part in video call with family whose son reached out to charity Shout
  • Comes amid claims Meghan Markle ‘bullied’ staff and blamed Kate for leaking stories about her to the Press
  • Meghan and Harry’s bombshell tell-all interview with Oprah Winfrey airs Sunday in US and on Monday in UK
  • ITV have insisted it will go ahead despite Prince Philip, 99, recovering from heart surgery in hospital 

As the royal war continues to rage, Prince William and Kate Middleton demonstrated it’s business as usual today with a charity video call to a suicidal 12-year-old boy who was helped by their text counselling service.

Last night a royal source claimed the Duchess of Sussex blamed the Duchess of Cambridge along with the Duchess of Cornwall and Prince Charles for leaking stories about her to the Press when she was a senior member of The Firm. 

It followed Buckingham Palace’s announcement that it is launching an inquiry into claims Meghan Markle bullied staff at Kensington Palace. The Duchess has been accused of ‘driving out’ two PAs and shattering the confidence of another member of palace staff – with one former aide branding Prince Harry and his wife ‘outrageous bullies’ in The Times earlier this week.

Meghan has vehemently denied the claims, instead insisting the newspaper was ‘being used by Buckingham Palace to peddle a wholly false narrative’ about her.

The drama comes ahead of Meghan and Harry’s bombshell tell-all interview with Oprah Winfrey airing in the US on Sunday and on Monday night in the UK – which ITV have insisted will go ahead despite Prince Philip recovering from heart surgery.

Prince William and Kate Middleton demonstrated it’s business as usual today with a charity video call – after Buckingham Palace announced it is launching an inquiry into claims Meghan Markle bullied staff at Kensington Palace

Meghan has been accused of ‘driving out’ two PAs and shattering the confidence of another member of palace staff – with one former aide branding Prince Harry and his wife ‘outrageous bullies’ in The Times earlier this week (the couple are pictured during their upcoming interview with Oprah Winfrey)

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have retained a dignified silence throughout the affair and are continuing their royal engagements, which included a video call this week to the family of a 12-year-old boy who came close to ending his own life after he began suffering severe anxiety during the pandemic.

The couple heard how the youngster, who is given the name Jack to protect his identity, was standing on a high bridge unbeknown to his loving and supportive parents when he contacted Shout – a crisis line Cambridges launched as part of their Heads Together campaign with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex in May 2019. 

In a video clip of their conversation shared to the Shout Twitter page this morning, the father of the boy tells Kate and William they have ‘no doubt’ that Jack’s conversation with a Shout volunteer that night when he was stood on that bridge was ‘enough to save his life’.

The parents only discovered what had happened when they were contacted by the emergency services to inform them Jack was safe.

Kate, wearing a black and white polka dot shirt with her hair in a half-updo, said: ‘I can’t imagine, as parents ourselves, I can’t imagine what it’s been like for you, and it’s every parent’s worst nightmare is receiving the call that you did on that night.’

William added: ‘Shout has effectively bridged that gap between a point of crisis and despair and brought him back to give him the peace and calm for a time to just work things out and find that support.’   

During their private conversation, the Duke and Duchess talked to both Jack and his parents, who described how the experience had been for the family. 

They talked about the close and loving relationships they have with all of their children, their ability to talk and listen as a family about difficult things, and their busy and fun household. Yet despite this, they hadn’t realised the extent of the great distress their son Jack had found himself in during lockdown.

Kate, wearing a black and white polka dot dress with her hair in a half-updo, said: ‘I can’t imagine, as parents ourselves, I can’t imagine what it’s been like for you, and it’s every parent’s worst nightmare is receiving the call that you did on that night’

 William added: ‘Shout has effectively bridged that gap between a point of crisis and despair and brought him back to give him the peace and calm for a time to just work things out and find that support’

The Duke and Duchess heard how they had noticed that their once open, gregarious, fun loving and inquisitive son had become more introverted during the Covid-19 lockdown of spring and summer 2020. 

Jack spent increasing amounts of time on his own, no longer connecting with his friends online or on the phone, and struggling with online school. Jack became increasingly anxious about the future, and whether life would ever get back to some sort of normality. His father described how there was no trigger point for Jack’s anxiety which made it harder to understand how bad things had become.

The Duke and Duchess heard how, when Jack returned to school in autumn last year, his anxiety escalated. What Jack’s family didn’t know was that it had reached a dangerous level where the only solution he could see was to end his life. Jack’s parents explained how he had reached out to Shout in a pivotal moment, and, during a text conversation, a volunteer had been able to prevent Jack from ending his life.

Jack agreed with the Duke that having a conversation with Shout over text, rather than talking out loud, made it easier to be open about difficult emotions. He told The Duke and Duchess that more children and young people should learn about mental health, and learn how to talk to others about their feelings. 

The Duke and Duchess told Jack how incredibly brave he had been to share his story in order to raise awareness of mental health issues and the support that Shout 85258 provides. 

During their private conversation, the Duke and Duchess talked to both Jack and his parents, who described how the experience had been for the family

Shout is a legacy of the Heads Together campaign launched by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex after a £3million investment from The Royal Foundation. Meghan and Harry have since quit as senior members of the Royal Family and were stripped of their patronages by the Queen last month.

Ahead of the couple’s bombshell sit-down with Oprah, claims have emerged that Meghan bullied underlings at the palace and ‘hissed’ at staff – reducing one aide to tears on a royal tour.

Today many of Meghan’s friends and supporters as well as colleagues from her time on Suits rushed to defend her on social media. The hit show’s executive producer Jon Cowan called her a ‘warm, kind, caring person’ who has been thrust into an ‘unimaginable world’ and deserves the ‘benefit of the doubt’, and ‘Team Meghan’ cheerleader Lindsay Jill Roth, who had Meghan as the maid of honour at her wedding, said ‘goodwill runs in her bones’.

Royal experts believe that while many in Britain are siding with Harry’s family and are upset the Oprah interview is going ahead with Prince Philip in hospital after heart surgery, support in the US is swinging behind the Sussexes and could damage the Queen’s popularity in the US. 

Buckingham Palace has announced it will launch an unprecedented inquiry into accusations that the Sussexes bullied their staff – leaving royal employees ‘shaken’ by ‘unhappy memories’ being brought up about a ‘toxic period’. 

The allegations claimed officials were aware of the purported actions of the duchess – but did ‘absolutely nothing to protect people’.

A group of more than ten royal aides are ‘queuing up’ to help the palace’s inquiries, reports suggest. A source told The Mirror: ‘A group of people are queuing up to be involved. They have been silent for too long and there is much to talk about.’

The palace did not warn Meghan and Harry prior to announcing their probe – which the couple will not be a part of since they relinquished position as working members of the family, The Daily Telegraph reports.

They still hope to be kept up to speed with what the investigation will entail and want to be informed if formal bullying accusations emerge.

A source close to the Sussexes said: ‘If it was an investigation into them, of some description, there would have to be a formal process where we would have to be involved. A formal HR investigation involves formal accusations.’

Staff will be able to bring up specific conflicts, but the review will mostly focus on how complaints were handled, a palace insider said.

Meghan Markle blamed the Duchess of Cambridge, the Duchess of Cornwall and Prince Charles for leaking stories about her to the Press when she was a senior royal, a source has claimed. Pictured: The Duchess of Cambridge and the Duchess of Sussex are seen in the Royal Box in Wimbledon in 2019

Meanwhile ITV has faced furious backlash at its decision to push ahead with broadcasting the bombshell Oprah interview while Harry’s 99-year-old grandfather Prince Philip recovers from heart surgery in hospital – where he is set to remain ‘for a number of days’. 

The channel yesterday released its first branded clip of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s interview with Miss Winfrey which featured the same footage put out by CBS in the early hours of Thursday morning – but this time with ITV’s branding in the corner.

The video clip from Meghan and Harry’s interview – which has been licensed by CBS owner ViacomCBS to be shown in 66 countries in addition to Britain and the US – saw the Duchess say she could not be expected to stay silent if the royal family played a part in ‘perpetuating falsehoods’ about her and Prince Harry.

Yesterday’s clip was in an updated press release – which had first been issued with words only at 12pm on Wednesday – with ITV confirming in a tweet: ‘Oprah With Meghan and Harry broadcasts at 9pm on Monday, March 8 on ITV.’

The interview will first be shown by CBS in the US at 1am UK time on Sunday night. Meanwhile Buckingham Palace said at 1pm yesterday that a special Commonwealth programme would be aired just hours beforehand on the BBC.

The Queen and the royal family have turned their attention to the global impact of the coronavirus pandemic for the show which will be on BBC One in the UK and globally on the BBC’s YouTube channel from 5pm on Sunday.

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