According to the Daily Mail, the teen died peacefully in her sleep on March 27. The outlet stated that Holly was “seriously ill from birth with a number of complex conditions including cerebral palsy, epilepsy and chronic lung disease.”
Her lifelong battle with these conditions is how she and her family came to know the Royal. The Smallman’s first met the Duke of Sussex five years ago at the WellChild awards, when he presented Holly’s younger sister Ruby with a prize. And though the event was in recognition of Ruby’s accomplishments as a carer for her sister, Harry went out of his way to befriend the then-13-year-old. “He said, ‘I’ve just met your incredible sister and I thought there was no way I couldn’t meet you as well’. He sent everyone else out of the room and just spent time with the two of them, it was such an incredible moment,” the mother told the Daily Mail.
The Prince once again gave the family a moment they’ll always treasure by sending a personally written letter reflecting on the privilege he had in knowing Holly and the admiration he has for the Smallman family. He signed the letter, “Meghan and I send our deepest and most heartfelt condolences.”
JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images
Hayley said the note conveyed “such a sense of genuine caring” from the 35-year-old. She shared, “For Prince Harry to find the time to send this email, to know that Holly made that impact on him and that he cares so much, even in all this private turmoil he’s going through, just meant the world to us.”
The WellChild organization continues to be a cause that the Prince loves and dedicates his time to. Even with the coronavirus pandemic taking place, Harry has participated in conference calls with parents and members of the group. On one occasion he told WellChild parents, “I can’t even begin to imagine how hard it is for you, having one kid at 11-months-old. So to see what you guys are going through on a days to day basis, honestly, so much respect to ever single one of you.”