Harry urges Tunisia terrorist attack relatives to talk about grief

Prince Harry has told bereaved relatives of the 2015 Tunisia terrorist attacks to talk about their loss, as he dedicated a memorial to the victims.

The Duke of Sussex attended the special ceremony at Birmingham’s Cannon Hill Park, alongside families who had lost loved ones.

Afterwards he spent more than half an hour chatting with the relatives, telling them: “Talk about it”.

Harry previously admitted publicly he had “never” spoken enough to his brother or anyone else about the death of his mother Diana, Princess of Wales.

Speaking alongside his brother William in 2017 for their mental health charity Heads Together, the duke had said: “I always thought to myself, ‘what’s the point of bringing up the past?’

“‘What’s the point of bringing up something that’s only going to make you sad? It ain’t going to change it. It ain’t going to bring her back’.”

But, adding he had been wrong to think that way, he had said: “When you think like that it can be really damaging.”

In Birmingham on Monday, his “biggest message” was talking, “instead of keeping it to yourself”, according to brothers Ross and Brad Naylor.

The siblings, from Derby, lost their father Scott Chalkley, 42, in the Sousse beach attack.

Mr Chalkley’s partner, 43-year-old Sue Davey, was also killed.

Ross Naylor, 26, and a tattooist, said: “Harry’s biggest message was just saying ‘talk about it’.

“That is the key thing, instead of keeping it to yourself.

“He’s said, very publicly, he didn’t do enough of that, he didn’t talk about his mother’s death for 20 years, so that’s what he was saying.”

Duke of Sussex in Birmingham
The Duke of Sussex arrives at Cannon Hill Park, Birmingham (PA)

Earlier, the duke dedicated a memorial as a focus of remembrance for those killed in two separate attacks on the Bardo Museum in Tunis on March 18, and a hotel beach resort in Sousse on June 26.

Addressing an audience of about 200 family and friends of the victims, Harry said: “In memory of all those who lost their lives.

“And to the families whose lives were changed forever by these events.

“I would like to pay my deepest respects to you and officially dedicate this memorial to your loved ones.”

Holding a single white rose, he then turned and walked to the memorial’s centre-piece, where he laid the flower.

At Sousse, 30 British tourists staying at the Hotel Riu Imperial Marhaba complex in Port el Kantaoui were among 38 killed, with dozens more injured.

Sally Adey, a 57-year-old solicitor from Caynton near Shifnal, Shropshire, was the sole British victim at the deadly museum attack, which left 22 dead.

The Sousse terrorist attack was the deadliest on British citizens since the July 7 London bombings in 2005.

Islamic State (IS) claimed at the time that it was behind the attack by Tunisian student Seifeddine Rezgui.

The Sousse and Bardo Memorial, made up of 31 individual streams, each one representing the British nationals who lost their lives — will be a place of remembrance, commemoration and reflection for families of those injured and killed in the terrorist attacks in Tunisia in 2015. pic.twitter.com/prRzupp16j

— Kensington Palace (@KensingtonRoyal) March 4, 2019

Among those killed were three members of the same family; Charles Patrick Evans, 78; his son Adrian Evans, 49, and grandson Joel Richards, 19.

Joel’s brother Owen Richards, then 16, survived the attack and was later praised for his bravery at the scene by a coroner at inquests into the deaths.

After the attacks, he and his mother Suzanne Richards set up the Smile for Joel Charity, providing support for other victims of terrorism.

Meeting the duke afterwards, Harry also told Owen that talking about loss was hugely important.

Mrs Richards, a former travel agent and a lecturer in leisure and tourism at Walsall College, said: “He talked about Owen being so young, to talk about it, and that he must continue to talk about what happened.”

The prince also praised their charity work as “positive”, and was handed a teddy with the charity’s name on to take away.

Speaking after the ceremony, Mrs Richards, from Wednesbury, West Midlands, said: “It’s lovely to think people can actually come and see all the names of those killed and reflect on what happened.

“It is very difficult and also today is my dad’s (Charles’) birthday.”

Duke of Sussex in Birmingham
Owen Richards and his mother arrive at Cannon Hill Park (Joe Giddens/PA)

Owen Richards, now 19 and studying sports science at the University of Worcester, said: “It’s really important not just for the families but also generally for the wider public to take an interest and be able to remember what happened, and not forget it.

“Because there were things that should have been learned from that day and by remembering it hopefully those lessons (will be learned) and it will stop it happening again.”

Mrs Richards added that the charity set up 18 months ago was also now reaching out to families affected by murder in the UK as well as terrorism, particularly given the recent spate of gun and knife attacks.

“It’s lovely because every week, we get requests for help and it’s lovely to be able to give help in their names,” she added.

The mother and son also performed a reading at the dedication, called “We Remember Them”.

Mrs Richards said: “We chose a reading about remembering them, because that is what this is all about.

“We want to make sure that people never forget that people went on holiday and never came home.

“The work I’m doing with the travel industry, I’m hoping to make changes so that never happens again.”

Duke of Sussex in Birmingham
The white rose laid by the Duke of Sussex (Richard Vernalls/PA)

Seven people were sentenced to life in prison in Tunisia, in February, in connection with both attacks.

The park site was selected in consultation with the families due to its central location, its “seclusion and tranquillity” and as “being a place of public prominence”, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) said previously.

The memorial has been designed by George King Architects and overlooks the park’s boating lake.

The centrepiece of the memorial is a sculpture titled Infinite Wave, made up of 31 individual stainless steel rods, each representing the Britons who lost their lives.

From the side, the memorial also takes the shape of a dove of peace taking flight, while concentric rings of stone and turf ripple outwards.

The FCO developed the memorial, consulting with families on the design and location.

In 2016, Harry attended a service at Westminster Abbey for the victims, and gave a reading.