Henry van Straubenzee (Henners), a student at Prince Harry's former school, Ludgrove Preparatory, and one of Harry’s close childhood friends, is mentioned several times in Prince Harry’s memoir Spare, amongst its explosive claims about members of the royal family.
The 18-year-old sadly passed away in a tragic car accident in 2002, a passenger in the car that drove into a tree when leaving a party near Ludgrove.
Having just completed his A Levels at Harrow School and with a place at Newcastle University to read Business Management, Henry intended to take a year out to work as a teacher at Bupadhengo, a school in Uganda. Henry had also won an Army scholarship, like his father, to The Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst, where he was due to go after university.
Henry was described as “the first to see light in every moment” as well as “kind, thoughtful and extremely funny.”
After his untimely death, the Henry van Straubenzee Memorial Fund was established by his parents Alexander and Claire to support education in Uganda, a cause close to Henry’s heart.
In the book, Harry says of his friend: "He didn't take the future seriously, didn't take anything seriously. Life as it comes, Haz, That was Henners, always and forever" adding that he "envied his tranquility."
Harry goes on to describe the morning he received the phone call about Henry's death, just before Christmas 2002: "I vividly remember my reaction. Same as when Pa told me about Mummy."
Prince Harry and Prince William have served as patrons of their friend’s memorial fund. At the launch in 2008, Prince Harry said: “As some of you know, Henry was one of my greatest friends and his death was truly shocking to many people. Henry would be so proud of his family and what they are doing in Uganda in his name. The way they are carrying on his memory is remarkable."
Prince William added: "This is the first charity of which we have both become patrons and it couldn’t have been a better one, as Henry was such a close friend of ours and because we believe so strongly in the need to alleviate poverty and assist development in African countries."
The annual Henry van Straubenzee Christmas Carol Concert has also been hosted by the Fund every year since 2009.
Due to Prince William's attendance in Boston for the Earthshot Prize and Prince Harry's current residence in California, the brothers were unable to make it to the concert this year. The two nevertheless penned a joint letter, despite their ongoing rift, which was published in the concert's order of service.
They wrote: “We believe everyone here tonight will agree that what Claire and Alex have achieved since 2009 is nothing short of extraordinary. As you gather under this roof tonight, the charity is supporting 51 nursery, primary and secondary schools in rural Uganda, where 1,700 projects have been completed and over 35,000 children, each year, are benefitting by receiving education they wouldn't have otherwise had."
They continued: "For those of us who knew Henners, we will always miss his mischievous charm and hilarious sense of humor. Henry's legacy will live on through the incredible achievements of what his mum and dad have accomplished over the years."
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