Prince William makes surprise solo appearance at TV BAFTAS 2024

The Prince of Wales surprised guests at the TV BAFTAS 2024 with a special recorded message for Baroness Floella Benjamin, who has been awarded the prestigious BAFTA Fellowship.

The former children’s TV presenter, 74, known for her work on Play School and Play Away, was recognised for her “tireless support of children and young people [and] her unwavering championing of diversity”.

WATCH: Prince William pays tribute to Baroness Floella Benjamin

Baroness Benjamin, now an author and a peer, was left emotional by the sweet surprise from prince William, who has been a close family friend since he was a child.

Addressing the audience, William said: “Good evening. Tonight we are delighted to recognise Baroness Floella Benjamin’s remarkable achievements as she receives this year’s Fellowship for her ground-breaking work with children and young people; her longstanding commitment to television broadcasting; and for her work as an unwavering champion of inclusion.

Prince William special TV BAFTAs 2024 video appearance© BBC
Prince William made a special TV BAFTAs 2024 appearance via video link

“In a career spanning more than five decades, she has touched the lives of millions. She has graced our screens as a much-loved presenter of children’s television, most notably Playschool and Play Away.

“She has also contributed greatly to BAFTA itself – she chaired the BAFTA Television Committee from 1997 to 2000 and established the BAFTA Children’s Awards in 1995.

“Beyond the screen arts, Baroness Benjamin has steadfastly advocated for children’s education and welfare, supported a great number of charitable organisations, tirelessly campaigned for social justice – and as a member of the Windrush Generation – she has given voice to those who faced discrimination upon arrival in the UK.

“She is an actress, author, singer, politician and businesswoman, a beacon of representation and a voice for change.”

The Prince of Wales concluded by personally thanking the Baroness for her incredible work.

Baroness Floella Benjamin attends the 2023 Commonwealth Day Service © Getty
Baroness Floella Benjamin has long been a friend of the royal family

“Baroness Floella Benjamin you remind us of the power of empathy, compassion, and action to effect positive change and I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you. I’m thrilled that you are receiving the BAFTA Fellowship this evening, and I send my heartfelt congratulations,” he said. 

Baroness Floella Benjamin’s moving winners’ room speech

Floella was given an OBE in 2001 and was chosen by the late Queen Elizabeth 11 to receive the Order of Merit, one of the Queen’s last wishes. She received the Order at St James’s Palace from King Charles in November 2022.

Talking to HELLO! in the winners’ room at the TV BAFTAs, the Baroness reminsced about her last memory of Her Late Majesty. She recalled: “I spoke about forgiveness to her, she was so open with me and I thought I’d be open about my life. I said, you know ma’am, when I was a little girl in Trinidad I used to stand in the playground and say ‘God save the Queen’, I was told the Queen loved me, Britain loved me, I was part of that motherland.

Baroness Floella Benjamin accepts the Fellowship Award onstage during the 2024 BAFTA Television Awards © John Phillips/BAFTA
The Baroness said of Her Late Majesty’s last wishes: “Only 24 living people are in that Order, and she wanted me to be one of them. To give all little 10 year olds hope to show them anything is possible”

“But when I came here it was not like that and so many people did horrible things to me and my family. They sent the police to arrest us when we went to live in Beckenham in Kent. That’s why I’m called Baroness Benjamin of Beckenham, I’ve claimed it for my mum and dad.

“I said to her, ‘I’ve forgiven all the people who are horrible to me, because forgiveness frees the soul’. And two days before she died, she was reading my autobiography which has that story in it. Her private secretary, Edward Young, told me the Queen said to him, ‘I want to appoint Floella Benjamin into the Order of Merit’. Only 24 living people are in that Order, and she wanted me to be one of them. To give all little 10 year olds hope to show them anything is possible. That’s why I feel good holding this [award].”

Baroness Dame Floella Benjamin (R), selected to carry the Sovereign's sceptre with dove, which represents spirituality, equity and mercy arrives at Westminster Abbey © Getty
Baroness Dame Floella Benjamin was also aselected to carry the Sovereign’s sceptre with dove during King Charles’ coronation last year

Baroness Benjamin also had a key role in King Charles’ coronation since she was tasked with carrying the Sovereign’s Sceptre with Dove.

RELATED: King Charles and Prince William declined personal invite sent by Prince Harry this week – details 

She told The Telegraph at the time: “I feel honoured and privileged to be part of the historic Coronation ceremony.”To be selected to carry the Sovereign’s sceptre with dove, which represents spirituality, equity and mercy, is for me very symbolic as it’s everything I stand for and sends out a clear message that diversity and inclusion is being embraced.”

In this week’s A Right Royal Podcast episode, we’re decoding Prince Harry’s latest solo visit to the UK for the 10th anniversary of the Invictus Games. The lack of family support didn’t go unnoticed and we delve into why this has happened.

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