The Duke and Duchess of Sussex met some of Britain’s most inspirational children on Tuesday night and told them: ‘Never stop smiling.’
Meghan was presented with a posy by Matilda Booth but pulled out a white rose and gave it back to the seven-year-old, telling her to keep it in her ‘memory box’.
Matilda, who has spina bifida and is paralysed from the chest down, met the royal couple at the annual WellChild Awards, which celebrate the bravery of the nation’s most seriously ill children and the carers who look after them.
The youngster, from Sowerby Bridge, West Yorkshire, was cheekily asked by Prince Harry, the charity’s patron, whether her posy was for him. He told her: ‘Never stop smiling because you have a beautiful smile.’
Matilda, who has had more than 40 operations including brain surgery, says she wants to be a nurse when she is older. ‘She never complains or feels sorry for herself,’ said WellChild.
Her mother Sharon said Harry and Meghan ‘made Matilda feel so special’, adding: ‘They were just so lovely. It was very exciting. Matilda had watched the royal wedding and was very nervous about meeting them but they completely put us at ease.’
The Duchess, 37, who wore a black trouser suit by Altuzarra with a blouse by Deitas, had admitted that she might not be able to hold back her tears during the event, at the Royal Lancaster Hotel in London. She and Harry also met four-year-old Mckenzie Brackley, who was holding a red balloon dog.
Meghan told the shy youngster: ‘That is very cool’, making him smile.
Mckenzie, from Fife, who was with his mother Amy, spent three months in intensive care aged two with acute flaccid paralysis following a virus. He has since had to learn to speak, swallow, eat, drink and move again. Another award-winner, Poppy Slater, 13, from Whitehaven, Cumbria, has panenteric Crohn’s disease.
She suffers from acute inflammation throughout her digestive tract and needs constant medication to keep her condition in remission, as there is no cure. Despite tiredness and nausea, she works hard at school and is involved in many clubs.
In his speech, Harry said: ‘I want to acknowledge the young people who have been dealt the toughest cards imaginable – but who persevere, rise above, and set the example of living life to the fullest. In fact, you are often the ones who lift us up – your can-do attitude and unwavering spirit serves as a constant reminder that we must always look to the positive and never give up.’