Prince William Pens Emotional Letter to His Mom Princess Diana for Her Birthday

In honor of what would have been Princess Diana's 61st birthday, her son Prince William has penned an emotional letter to his late mom. According to PEOPLE, the 40-year-old wrote a heartfelt letter to the winners of the Diana Award, which honors people between the ages of nine and 25 for their important humanitarian work and social action. In a statement to this year's recipients — written on official Kensington Palace stationery emblazoned with the royal's cipher, a "W" — William called them all "an inspiration."

"Congratulations on receiving The Diana Award today! You are part of an inspirational generation of young people who are changing the world through your actions, and I hugely admire your efforts," William wrote. "I hugely admire your efforts. Your stories are remarkable. Many of you face huge challenges in the face of difficult times, yet you are tirelessly breaking down barriers to create a better future for us all." He continued, "You truly are the personification of my mother's legacy and I know she would be so proud of you all. I believe there's no better way to celebrate her life and work than through recognizing incredible people who dedicate so much time and effort to helping those around them." A photo of all the recipients can be seen here.

Princess Diana died on Aug. 31, 1997, when a car she was traveling in crashed in the Pont de l'Alma tunnel in Paris. Two other passengers — Diana's partner Dodi Fayed and the driver Henri Paul — were also killed. Notably, Diana's bodyguard Trevor Rees-Jones survived the crash. Prince William was just 15 years old at the time of his mother's tragic death, and his younger brother, Prince Harry, was 12 years old. 

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Both sons have committed to carrying on her legacy of outreach in the years since her death, with Harry issuing a heartfelt statement on World Aids day to commemorate his mother's work with people living with the illness. "On this World AIDS Day we [recognize] the 40 years that have shaped life for many," Harry wrote. "We [honor] those whose lives have been cut short and reaffirm our commitment to a scientific community that has worked tirelessly against this disease." He continued, "My mother would be deeply grateful for everything you stand for and have accomplished. We all share that gratitude, so thank you."