Prince William surprises boy who wrote letter to him about mental health - and reveals Princess Charlotte's favourite 'dad joke'

Prince William turned up at a West Midlands school to surprise a student who had penned a personal letter to him about mental health.

He visited St Michael's Church of England High School in Rowley Regis to learn about the award-winning student-led initiatives available to pupils to support their mental wellbeing after 12-year-old student Freddie Hadley invited him to discuss the issue.

The schoolboy wrote to the Prince of Wales urging him to support the school's Matrix Project which was set up to raise awareness of the mental health of boys.

He said its campaign called Am I Manly Enough "aims to tackle the stigma that 'girls cry and boys get mad'."

"The group consists of boys aged 11-14 who meet weekly to develop ideas and projects," he wrote to the prince.

"We are contacting you in the hope that you will support our campaign."

He added: "Through our work, we discovered that suicide is the biggest killer in young males and this won't change until people start the conversation."

The young student sent the letter to the royal last year, inviting him "as a VIP" to a school event, organised as part of World Health Day on 10 October.

William was unable to visit at the time, but responded to the letter with a message on X, commending Freddie and the school on their work to tackle mental health challenges faced by pupils.

On Thursday, William arrived unannounced and greeted Freddie as "the young man" and "very persuasive student" responsible for his trip.

Asked by the prince if he thought he would get a response to his letter, Freddie replied confidently: "Yeah, I did."

When asked why he chose to write to him, the boy told William: "I felt if I wrote to you about it I would get the campaign out there more, and then more people would start feeling more comfortable expressing their emotions."

William met with representatives of Student Voice and learned about the various initiatives set up at the school to promote positive mental health and wellbeing.

He also joined a session of the Matrix Project with Freddie and other pupils.

"It is not a masculine thing to do to speak about your emotions," said Freddie during a radio session with the prince and other members of the group.

They revealed "dad jokes" are told to break up some of the more serious segments of the show - and the prince rose to the challenge.

"I'm trying to channel Jack Whitehall, because most of his jokes are pretty dad-like," he said.

"I think what I'll do, is I'll say a joke which is Charlotte's favourite joke at the moment, she keeps telling me."

"Knock, knock," he said, to which the others replied: "Who's there?"

"Interrupting cow," said the prince, and as the others responded he quipped: "Moo."

"That is what I hear a lot at home at the moment," he said. "That's the greatest one I can think of that is clean and broadcastable."

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"I really wanted to write the letter because I know Prince William is a massive advocate for male mental health, Freddie said afterwards.

"I completely thought it was the Lord Lieutenant who was coming today.

"It was a great surprise, so I understand why they didn't tell me. It has just been wonderful.

"I'm just standing there and see Prince William walking down... and I'm like, 'Woah'.

"I couldn't get my head around it... I'm meeting Prince William, the future king, it's insane."

It wasn't just mental health the pair talked about - both Aston Villa fans, they also discussed football, Freddie added.

The importance of treating mental health with the same emphasis as physical health is a cornerstone of William and Kate's charity work.

The past few months have been an eventful period for the Royal Family due to Kate and the King's cancer diagnoses.

The Princess of Wales announced in March she was undergoing preventative chemotherapy.

Prince William's latest official royal engagement comes after he resumed royal duties last week in his first public engagement since his wife's cancer announcement.

The prince visited a food distribution charity, with footage showing him chopping ingredients to make a chilli con carne, and later loading and unloading the prepared meals.