Prince Harry shares insights into family life with 'support dogs'

Duke of Sussex joins a video call with winners of 2022 WellChild Awards

The WellChild video chat between the Duke of Sussex and Tony Hudgell, with his adoptive mother and father, Paula and Mark Hudgell. PA
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Archie is “very busy”, Lilibet is “learning to use her voice”, and his three dogs are “emotional support” animals, Prince Harry has said, sharing insights into his family life .

The Duke of Sussex joined a video call with winners of the 2022 WellChild Awards and their families, and apologised for missing the ceremony and not being able to meet them in person.

Prince Harry had to pull out of attending the event in London on September 8, the day that Queen Elizabeth II died, after going to Balmoral in Scotland where his grandmother had fallen ill.

During the video chat that was released on Monday, Prince Harry spoke to each of the winners in turn.

He also described how the UK was “going through a lot right now”, with the general population wanting to help each other out, but said there were “certain other fractions that make that tricky for people”.

Four-year-old Henry Waines from Bridlington, East Riding, who won the inspirational child aged 4 to 7 category, asked the duke: “How are Archie and Lilibet doing?”

“They’re doing great — Archie is very, very busy and Lili is learning to use her voice, which is great,” Prince Harry replied.

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The duke was speaking from his home in California, where he lives with the Duchess of Sussex, Archie, 3, and Lili, 1.

As the duke chatted to a confident Henry, he told him: “You sound just like my son Archie. The same little squeaky voice. I love it.

“My name’s Henry as well. But everyone calls me Harry. I have no idea why.”

When Harry was born he was named Prince Henry of Wales, but palace officials announced that he was to be known as Harry.

His father Charles, now king, once declared this was always the case unless Prince Harry had been “very, very naughty”.

Henry’s mother Shevonne told the duke he was the inspiration for naming their son.

The duke covered his face with his hands in embarrassment and said: “Oh no, don’t say that, and how did that happen?”

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Henry was born with serious health problems affecting his ability to breathe, eat and speak, and he is attached to a ventilator 24 hours a day.

He has been praised for his determination to show how well you can live with a tracheostomy, and climbs trees, plays football, and rides a bike without stabilisers, pulling a 12-kilogram trailer containing his ventilator behind him.

Harry also held a video call with Isabelle Delaney, 13, who won the inspirational young person aged 12 to 14 award, and her family, who live in Solihull in the West Midlands.

Isabelle, who has a range of serious health conditions including autism, ADHD, hypermobility and Irlen syndrome, was joined on screen by her labradoodle Hope, who is training to be the teenager’s assistance dog.

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Harry spoke about his own three dogs, saying they charged around causing mischief every day.

“We all need a dog that keeps us calm. I’ve got three in this house now. We basically have five children,” the duke said.

“I’ve got a black Labrador called Pula, a rescue beagle called Guy and we got another rescue beagle called Mia.

"And between the three of them, they charge around chasing the squirrels and causing all sorts of problems to us every single day.

“But they are also emotional support dogs, 100 per cent — when they’re behaving.”

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The duke also chatted to Tony Hudgell, who won the special recognition 4 to 11 years award.

Tony, who was so badly abused at the hands of his birth parents that he had to have his legs amputated, raised more than £1.7 million ($1.9m) for Evelina Children’s Hospital with his challenge of walking every day of June in 2020 on his new prosthetic legs.

Tony’s adoptive mother and father, Paula and Mark Hudgell, from West Malling in Kent, expressed their condolences to Harry on the death of the queen, with Paula saying: “We felt for you immensely.”

Tony questioned Harry on what his favourite crisps were. The duke replied: “Salt and vinegar — could be Walkers, could be anything as long as it’s salt and vinegar.”

He said: “I’m thanking you for your resilience, your determination, your bravery, your strength your everything. You seem like a bit of a superhero.”

Tony quipped: “A bit,” leaving Harry chuckling.

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As well as the winning children and teenagers, Harry also spoke to the professional winners, including senior play specialist Lizzie Penn from Great Ormond Street Hospital, and Evelyn Rodger, a Diana Children’s Nurse with Children’s Hospices Across Scotland.

He told them the UK was “going through a lot right now” and how there were “certain other fractions” that make it tricky for people, but Harry did not make clear to what he was referring.

“The UK is going through a lot right now. And it needs people like you to continue to do what you do and to inspire other people to step up and help out where they can,” he said.

“The feeling that I’ve always, certainly in the UK, is that the general population, everyone gets it, everyone wants to muck in and help each other no matter what.

“There are certain other fractions that make that tricky for people but the way that I’m constantly inspired every single day is by you guys.”

Ms Rodger’s role was funded by the memorial fund set up in honour of Harry’s late mother, Diana, Princess of Wales.

“I think your mum would be very proud of what that money has achieved and I also think, as a mum, she’d be very proud of you Harry,” she said.

Harry looked touched and replied: “That’s very sweet.”

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The duke said that any issues that he or anyone else were overshadowed in comparison with the difficulties the WellChild families face each day.

“Knowing what these families go through every single day, it just puts any issues that I or any of us have, it just kicks it straight to the sidelines because they are struggling every single day and thank the Lord that WellChild is there to support them,” he said.

Updated: October 11, 2022, 7:15 AM