William and Kate listened to heart-breaking accounts from child survivors as they joined mourners at Westminster Abbey as Britain remembers the 72 victims of Grenfell Tower who died five years ago today.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge stood with survivors of the fire along with bereaved relatives at a memorial service also attended by MPs including Theresa May, who was prime minister at the time of the tragedy.
With Prince William looking on, Kate laid a wreath with white flowers at the base of Grenfell Tower to mark the five-year anniversary of the deadly fire. Afterwards, both bowed their hoods and paused for a moment of reflection.
It was also revealed the Duke and Duchess had held a private meeting earlier on Tuesday between the royal couple and those directly affected by the disaster.
The royal couple have long supported survivors and the families who died in the fire on June 14, 2017, which was accelerated by deadly combustible cladding and where many of those who died had been told to stay in their flats. 72 people died in the tragedy – but more are feared to have perished but were never identified.
Attendees marked the memorial with a 72-second silence in memory of the 72 victims of the fire, which took place exactly five years ago, was observed by attendees including William and Kate, and followed by applause.
Green balloons were later released in memory of the 18 children who perished in the deadly blaze.
Eight-year-old Ayeesha, who survived the fire, also recited a poem she wrote called Never Forget, which was met with raucous applause from both Prince William and Kate.
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.
And today with tears streaming down the faces of mourners, dressed in green and clutching photographs of their loved ones, the fifth anniversary was marked.
Prince William shakes the hand of two young attendees at the Grenfell Tower memorial service in London
With Prince William looking on, Kate laid a wreath with white flowers at the base of Grenfell Tower to mark the five-year anniversary of the deadly fire. Both bowed their hoods and paused for a brief moment of reflection
Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge speak with survivors and bereaved children during a memorial service to mark the fifth anniversary of the Grenfell Tower fire
The Duchess of Cambridge arrives during their unannounced visit to the memorial service at the base of Grenfell Tower earlier today
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge stood shoulder-to-shoulder with survivors of the fire along with bereaved relatives at Tuesday’s memorial service
William and Kate have long supported survivors and families who died in the tragedy, which took 72 lives when a fire took hold in the tower block on June 14, 2017
Eight-year-old Ayeesha, who survived the fire, recited a poem she wrote called Never Forget which was met with raucous applause from both Prince William and Kate
Hundreds gathered at the base of Grenfell Tower in north Kensington, London as they watched the memorial service get underway
Rapper Stormzy watched on as a wreath laying ceremony was displayed on big screens at the base of Grenfell Tower
Hamid Ali Jafari staples to a tribute wall at Grenfell Tower a photo of his father, Ali Yawar Jafari, who died in the Grenfell Tower fire on June 14, 2022 in London, England
People read the written tributes left to victims of the deadly Grenfell Tower fire on Tuesday, June 14
Prince William and Kate Middleton look sombre as they attend a memorial service marking the fifth anniversary of the Grenfell Tower tragedy
William and Kate sit among the congregation during the unannounced visit to today’s wreath laying service at the base of Grenfell Tower
After each group of names was read out, the congregation said in unison ‘Forever in our hearts’ – the phrase emblazoned across the top of the covered-up tower in north Kensington. Pictured: The Duchess of Cambridge today
The Duke of Cambridge is pictured addressing fellow attendees at the Grenfell Tower memorial on Tuesday as he and the Duchess of Cambridge made a surprise visit
Prince William speaks at the memorial service at the base of Grenfell Tower. Mourners were dressed in green and clutching photographs of loved ones
William and Kate were present as the congregation took part in the special service to commemorate those lost in the tragedy
Grenfell survivors and bereaved relatives are releasing 18 green balloons from the base of the west London tower to represent each child who died there five years ago. Pictured: Prince William speaks with fellow attendees on Tuesday afternoon
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge chatted with attendees before taking their seats in the front row for a multi-faith service at the base of the north Kensington high-rise on Tuesday
It is one of several events at which Grenfell survivors, the bereaved and the community will gather on Tuesday, five years on from the deadliest domestic blaze since the Second World War
The Duke of Cambridge is pictured arriving at the memorial service on Tuesday afternoon
The 72 victims who lost their lives in the deadly Grenfell Tower blaze
- Mohammad al-Haj Ali, 23
- Sakina, 65, and Fatema Afrasehabi, 59
- Fathia Ahmed, 71, Abufars Ibrahim, 39, and daughter Isra Ibrahim, 35
- Raymond Bernard, 63
- Kamru Miah, 79, Rabeya Begum, 64, Mohammed Hamid, 27, Mohammed Hanif, 26 and Husna Begum, 22
- Maria del Pilar Burton, 72
- Ali Yawar Jafari, 81
- Amna Mahmud Idris, 27
- Victoria King, 71, and Alexandra Atala, 40
- Tony Disson, 65
- Rania Ibrahim, and her young children Fethia and Hania
- Vincent Chiejina, 60
- Joseph Daniels, 69
- Mariem, 27, and Eslah Elgwahry, 64
- Hesham Rahman, 57
- Gary Maunders, 57
- Hashim Kedir, 44, Nura Jemal, 35, Firdows Hashim, 12, Yahya Hashim, 13, and Yaqub Hashim, six
- Gloria Trevisan, 26, and Marco Gottardi, 27
- Khadija Saye, 24
- Mary Mendy, 54
- Hamid Kani, 60
- Deborah Lamprell, 45
- Abdulaziz El-Wahabi, 52, Faouzia, 41, Yasin, 20, daughter Nur Huda, 16, and son Mehdi, eight
- Ligaya Moore, 78
- Dennis Murphy, 56
- Mohamed Neda, 57
- Mohamednur Tuccu, 44, his wife Amaya Tuccu-Ahmedin and Amal Ahmedin, three
- Omar Belkadi, 32, Farah Hamdan, 31, and daughters Malak, seven, and six-month-old Leena
- Berkti, 29, and Biruk Haftom, 12
- Khadija Khalloufi, 52
- Steve Power, 63
- Jessica Urbano Ramirez, 12
- Zainab Deen, 32, and her son Jeremiah, 2
- Logan Gomes
- Abdeslam Sebbar, 67
- Sheila Smith, 84
- Marjorie, 68, and Ernie Vital, 50
- Isaac Paulos, 5
- Nadia, Bassem, Sirria, Mierna, Fatima and Zeinab Choucair
Tuesday marked the latest public show of support from the Cambridges.
William, along with his grandmother, the Queen, visited the site in west London in the days following the fire in June 2017.
And the Duke was joined by his wife when they met with survivors as part of the launch of the National Emergencies Trust in 2019.
Today’s congregation, organised by campaigners with Grenfell United, stood as the Westminster Abbey special service choir sang Psalm 102:1: ‘Hear my prayer, O Lord, and let my crying come unto thee.’
Mrs May, London Mayor Sadiq Khan, Housing Secretary Michael Gove, former building safety and fire minister Stephen Greenhalgh, and shadow housing secretary Lisa Nandy sat to the side of the pulpit. Journalist Jon Snow sat in the front row and also spoke to the congregation.
The names of the 72 men, women and children who lost their lives in the worst fire in a generation were also read out.
Opening the service, the very Reverend Dr David Hoyle, Dean of Westminster, said the loss and anguish ‘are still vivid and sharp’ as the congregation gathered ‘in sorrow and in pain’.
He said: ‘Here we renew our commitment to remember those we have lost.
‘We gather as those who look for justice and a renewed commitment to securing safety in our homes, safety in times of fire.
‘Grateful for the support of the communities and individuals that have sustained the bereaved and the survivors over the last five years, we meet in faith and hope looking to a better, safer, surer future.’
It came as politicians paid tribute on social media, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeting: ‘Today marks five years since the Grenfell Tower fire took the lives of 72 people.
‘My thoughts are with the survivors, those who lost loved ones and the wider community.’
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer posted: ‘Five years on from the Grenfell tower fire we remember the 72 people killed.
‘The Grenfell community are courageous in their pursuit of justice and change.
‘We stand with them. To honour the memories of those lost we must prevent such a tragedy happening again.
Mr Khan tweeted: ‘Along with all Londoners I stand with the Grenfell community, today on the fifth anniversary of that terrible tragedy, and always.
‘Together, we will get the answers, justice and change that we need to protect communities in London and across the rest of our country.’
Multi-faith leaders said the names of the victims of the tragedy, during a service at Westminster Abbey to remember those who perished in the tower block fire on June 14 2017.
After each group of names was read out, the congregation said in unison ‘Forever in our hearts’ – the phrase emblazoned across the top of the covered-up tower in north Kensington.
Hundreds of people connected to Grenfell Tower have heard a reading from the Quran at a multi-faith service being held at the base of the building.
Christian prayers were also being read by Reverend Gerard Skinner from the Roman Catholic Parish of Notting Hill.
Following the readings, the local Soul Sanctuary Choir began a rendition of Amazing Grace.
Theresa May and Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove lower their heads in prayer during the service in Westminster Abbey today
Theresa May and community volunteer Claire Walker speak before the Grenfell fire memorial service at Westminster Abbey today
A green ribbon is tied to railings below the empty shell of the building, where loved ones continue to commemorate those lost in the fire
Grenfell Tower went up in flames five years ago today in the early hours of June 14, 2017, and became the worst fire in a generation
Campaigners have continued to question why nobody has ever been prosecuted in relation to the blaze, which took place five years ago today
It is one of several events at which Grenfell survivors, the bereaved and the community that gathered on Tuesday, five years on from the deadliest domestic blaze since the Second World War.
At 2pm a 72-second silence was observed at Westfield shopping centre, after which the names of the 72 victims was read out over the public address system.
Later in the afternoon, cording around the tower in north Kensington was removed so survivors, the bereaved and community groups could gather at its base for a multifaith service and lay flowers and wreaths.
Natasha Elcock, chairwoman of campaign group Grenfell United, said: ‘This week will be a difficult week for everyone affected by the Grenfell Tower fire.
‘For many of us the events five years ago are still so raw in our minds and our losses remain heavy in our hearts.’
In the evening, firefighters from across the country will form a guard of honour as members of the community take part in a silent walk starting from the base of the tower.
Pete Wolfenden, a firefighter who responded to the blaze, said: ‘It’s been five years since the Grenfell Tower fire and the thoughts and wishes go out from all London firefighters and fire control staff personnel to the survivors and friends and family of those who lost their lives in this appalling incident, the worst domestic blaze in living memory.
‘We also remember the brave and courageous members of all the emergency services who attended on the night and subsequent days, some of whom still suffer ill-health and bear the mental scars of attending that traumatic incident.’
The loss of 72 lives inside Grenfell Tower made it the worst fire in a British residential building since the Second World War
The Dean of Westminster David Hoyle addresses the congregation on the fifth anniversary of the Grenfell tragedy at Westminster Abbey
People arrive for a Grenfell fire memorial service at Westminster Abbey earlier today, where tributes were paid to those who lost their lives in the tragedy
Some in the crowd held flowers in memory of loved ones, with this person hold a white rose in Westminster Abbey during the service
Sir Martin Moore-Bick (centre), who led the public inquiry into the cause of the fire at Grenfell Tower, attended the ceremony today
A community choir dressed in green and black performs at the Grenfell Tower fire memorial service at Westminster Abbey today
A tree is decorated in green and with placards near to the remains of Grenfell Tower today, where the memory of the tragedy still looms large
Flowers and tributes to those who lost their lives in the tragedy have been placed at a wall in the area, with the remains of the tower in the background
Matt Wrack, general secretary of the Fire Brigades Union, said: ‘Firefighters and the Grenfell community have a bond that was forged in tragedy, and the Fire Brigades Union stands in solidarity with all bereaved, survivors and residents.
‘Today, on the fifth anniversary of the fire, it is a time for reflection, and to remember all those who lost their lives, and the loved ones they left behind. Their legacy lives on in the fight for justice.
‘The community have faced constant denials from those responsible for Grenfell being covered in cladding as flammable as petrol.
‘They have faced a wait for criminal charges that continues to this day. They inspire us all with their relentless fight for justice and we continue to stand in solidarity with them every step of the way.’
London Fire Commissioner Andy Roe said he has found the strength and dignity of the Grenfell community ‘humbling and inspiring’.
He added: ‘I give my commitment that we will continue to listen and make changes to our service and work to drive improvements in the built environment to ensure such a tragedy can never happen again.’
A spokeswoman for campaign group Justice 4 Grenfell said: ‘Today we stand with the Grenfell bereaved, survivors and community. Forever in our hearts.
‘The Grenfell Tower fire has become a symbol of the social inequality and injustice that exists in our country.
‘Seventy-two people lost their lives, many people lost their homes, possessions, families and loved ones.
‘The first duty of any government is to protect the lives of its citizens. From the right to life and including the duty to provide adequate housing, these duties are enshrined in law and are where the Government has and continues to fail.’
It comes as other members of The Firm were out in force at Royal Ascot, with Prince Charles and Camilla leading the royal family today while the Queen missed the event amid her ongoing mobility issues.
Her Majesty was a regular at the Berkshire racecourse before the pandemic and has been at every Royal Meeting since acceding to the throne in 1952, apart from when it was held behind closed doors in 2020.
However the 96-year-old monarch will likely be watching from home just seven miles away at Windsor Castle this afternoon, especially when her horse King’s Lynn started racing in the King’s Stand Stakes at 3.40pm.
Instead, the Prince of Wales, 73, and Duchess of Cornwall, 74, were in attendance alongside a host of other royals – including Princess Anne, 71, and her two children Peter Philips, 44, and Zara Tindall, 41, Countess Sophie Wessex, 57, and Princess Beatrice, 33, who was joined by her husband Edoardo Mapelli-Mozzi, 38.
Just over a week after the Platinum Jubilee celebrations ended, members of the royal family appeared in high spirits, with many taking part in the carriage procession, before greeting one-another in the warm summer sunshine at the racecourse.
Zara could be seen affectionately greeting her uncle Charles, as well as Princess Michael of Kent, while Princess Beatrice was also beaming with joy at the event.
Meanwhile the Duchess of Cambridge’s parents Carole and Michael Middleton also made a surprise appearance at the event today.
Prince Charles, 73, and Camilla, 74, led the royal family today at Royal Ascot as they came out in force for the first day of the races – while the Queen, 96 missed the event amid her ongoing mobility issues
The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall were in attendance alongside Princess Beatrice (left with her husband Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi) and Zara Tindall (right)
Meanwhile the Queen’s only daughter Princess Anne was also in attendance at the event, opting for a cream coat dress with a brown fascinator
Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall shared a laugh with William Buick’s trainer Charlie Appleby during the event
Meanwhile Sophie Wessex was elegant in an over-the-top raspberry hat today as she joined other members of the royal family at the event
Scoring a winner! The Duchess of Cambridge’s mother was seen jumping for joy during the races at Ascot
The best view in the racecourse! The royal couple could be seen peering through their binoculars as they watched the King’s Stand Stakes