Heartbreaking past of pensioner who hugged Prince William during visit to Scotland

A pensioner pictured sharing an emotional embrace with Prince William once held his dying wife in his arms, briefly became homeless after her death and now suffers from a chronic lung condition, it can today be revealed.

William Burns, 66, warmed the hearts of millions of Britons yesterday after being pictured sharing a tearful hug with the future king of England during his visit to Glasgow.

Prince William ripped up the royal rulebook by ditching formality and sharing the warm embrace with the emotional royal fan. 

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge greeted royal fans in Kennishead as they embarked on the first of their two-day tour of the country on Wednesday.

As they greeted local residents after the visit, William, 39, shared an affectionate hug with Mr Burns who was overcome with emotion as he embraced the royal. The Prince also stopped for a selfie with Mr Burns’ wife Ellen.

Today the heartbreaking past Mr Burns, a social housing resident who lives in the area, south of Glasgow, can be revealed, after he spoke exclusively to MailOnline.

Now retired, the former chef first moved to the area when he was nine from the island of Tiree in the Hebrides, in 1969-1970.

Eight years later, aged 17, he married his first wife, Jean. The pair were married for three decades until her tragic death.

‘My first love died in my arms, we were married for 30 years,’ Mr Burns said.

William Burns, 66, warmed the hearts of millions of Britons yesterday after being pictured sharing a tearful hug with the future king of England during his visit to Glasgow

As they greeted local residents after the visit, William, 39, shared an affectionate hug with Mr Burns (pictured here with his wife Ellen) who was overcome with emotion as he embraced the royal

As they greeted local residents after the visit, William, 39, shared an affectionate hug with Mr Burns (pictured here with his wife Ellen) who was overcome with emotion as he embraced the royal

Things soon turned from bad to worse for Mr Burns, who was later evicted from the home he shared with Jean during their marriage.

‘The man who came to evict me kept apologising but I told him he was just doing his job,’ said Mr Burns, who said he became briefly homeless.

But his luck turned and he quickly moved in with his now wife, Ellen, who took him in when he was at his lowest. The pair later married and remain together to this day.

‘I met Ellen and after the eviction I asked Ellen if I could move in with her and then we got married,’ he said.

‘She’s a lovely lady. We have been married four years in September. We’ve never been on a honeymoon. We’ve never been anywhere.’

Mr Burns, now suffers from the chronic lung condition emphysema, a lung condition where a person’s air sacs – known as alveoli – are damaged.

Mr Burns, now suffers from the chronic lung condition emphysema, a lung condition where a person's air sacs - known as alveoli - are damaged

Mr Burns, now suffers from the chronic lung condition emphysema, a lung condition where a person’s air sacs – known as alveoli – are damaged

It causes shortness of breath and when alongside chronic bronchitis makes up the often life-limiting condition chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Despite his difficult life, Mr Burns remains an optimist and described meeting Prince William as a ‘boost’. He said he went out to see the Prince after seeing ‘all the commotion and excitement’ at his arrival.

‘I thought I would go down for a peek-about. My wife was down there and I was standing talking to people who know me well because I am one of the longest people living here.

‘I saw Kate and thought, that lady is wonderful. She is beautiful and clearly a beautiful person. I was standing with my wife when William came over to the crowd.

‘I decided to meet the chap and I went to shake the man’s hand when he asked my name.

‘When I told him my name was William, he said, ‘My name is William too.’ I said, ‘I know that’ and he laughed. He had his hand on my shoulder.

‘He had his hand on my shoulder and then hugged me. I was quite emotional. I was overjoyed.

‘I am a grandfather. It felt like a son hugging a father. It was the way he hugged me. I didn’t expect that really to be honest.

‘It was a boost. I’ve never felt anything like it in my entire life before and my existence as a human being.’

Mr Burns was also full of praise for the Prince, who he said will make a ‘great King’.  

‘I told him about the housing association providing safe homes for the people and he said that was fantastic. He’s not King yet but he will be a good King for Scotland as well as the whole of the UK.

‘He’ll do well for Britain. He will be a fantastic King and he will keep Scotland and Britain together.’

His wife Ellen also revealed William joked with her that she didn’t know how to use a mobile phone after she asked him for a selfie.

The Prince then took the cherished shot for her. Ellen said: ‘I asked the Prince if I could get a photo with him and he said, “No bother. You don’t know how to use the phone, do you?”. ‘He took the phone and turned the camera around. So he took the selfie.

His wife Ellen also revealed William joked with her that she didn't know how to use a mobile phone after she asked him for a selfie (pictured)

The Prince then took the cherished shot for her. Ellen said: 'I asked the Prince if I could get a photo with him and he said, "No bother. You don't know how to use the phone, do you?". 'He took the phone and turned the camera around. So he took the selfie

The Prince then took the cherished shot for her. Ellen said: ‘I asked the Prince if I could get a photo with him and he said, “No bother. You don’t know how to use the phone, do you?”. ‘He took the phone and turned the camera around. So he took the selfie

Prince William was seen sharing a heartwarming embrace with an emotional man as he heard about the challenges of homelessness in Scotland

Prince William was seen sharing a heartwarming embrace with an emotional man as he heard about the challenges of homelessness in Scotland

‘My husband was worried he would get the jail for hugging the Prince but it was the Prince who hugged him.  

‘Princess Di hugged people and I think he copies his mum. Kate was gorgeous. It was a beautiful moment.’

Having met with Prince William, Ellen said the royal reminded her of his mother, Princess Diana. She said: ‘William reminds me of his mum. He is always helping people. He reminds me of his mammy.’

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge had visited the Wheatley Group site in Glasgow, to see first-hand how they are transforming the lives of disadvantaged or vulnerable people, including those at risk of homelessness.

Despite the joy of the occasion, he also admitted he was worried that he and William would get into trouble for ripping up the royal playbook by ditching formality and sharing the heartwarming embrace with Mr Burns.

‘I won’t get the jail hopefully and I hope William won’t get into trouble for giving me a hug’

An insider involved in the royal visit said: ‘William said he didn’t want suits and security. He wanted to meet the people.’

Wheatley Homes is Scotland’s leading housing, care and property-management group aiming to tackle homelessness and support vulnerable tenants during the cost of living crisis.

During their visit the royal couple also met Wheatley Homes Glasgow tenant Joanne Wales, 31, who opened the front door of her new-build home to welcome Their Royal Highnesses.

Inside they met son Jason, four, and heard from Joanne how the energy-efficient house design is helping reduce her energy bills.

Joanne said: ‘With four young kids then energy bills is a big concern. There’s always a need for a new pair of shoes or new clothes.

Prince William and Kate Middleton posed for selfies with locals during their visit to the Wheatley Group site in Kennishead in Glasgow

Prince William and Kate Middleton posed for selfies with locals during their visit to the Wheatley Group site in Kennishead in Glasgow

Prince William, Duke of Cambridge meets students during a visit the University of Glasgow on May 11, 2022 in Glasgow

Prince William, Duke of Cambridge meets students during a visit the University of Glasgow on May 11, 2022 in Glasgow

The Duke and Duchess were visiting the University of Glasgow to talk with students about mental health and wellbeing, particularly pertinent during what is exam season at the University

The Duke and Duchess were visiting the University of Glasgow to talk with students about mental health and wellbeing, particularly pertinent during what is exam season at the University

‘I had a meeting with the energy advice team and they gave me great tips on how to use my electricity to keep my bills low. I don’t need to put the heating on as much during the day in my new home. It’s made a big difference.’

The Duke and Duchess were met in Kennishead by John MacLeod, Glasgow Deputy Lieutenant, accompanied by his wife, Mariella McLeod.

They were introduced to Wheatley Group Chief Executive Martin Armstrong, Wheatley Group Chair Jo Armstrong and Bernadette Hewitt, the tenant Chair of Wheatley Homes Glasgow.

Wheatley Group Chair Jo Armstrong said: ‘We were delighted to welcome the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and show them how Wheatley Group is ‘Making Homes and Lives Better’.

The protocol surrounding touching the Royal Family has historically been so strict that a simple breach like a hand on the back, even by a well-meaning dignitary, was enough to spark outrage. 

While older generations of royals might have seen a lack of contact as a way to communicate a higher status – it appears the Duke and Duchess are attempting to be more approachable.

There are no obligatory codes of behaviour when meeting a member of the Royal Family, but many chose to observe traditions, which is to bow or curtsey.

The tender moment saw the Duke break strict royal protocol, in a move that echoed the tactile nature of his late mother Princess Diana.

The Duchess of Cambridge looks delighted as she meets members of the public during a visit to the Wheatley Group in Glasgow

Duchess of Cambridge meets members of the public during a visit to the Wheatley Group in Glasgow, to hear about the challenges of homelessness in Scotland

The Duchess of Cambridge looks delighted as she meets members of the public during a visit to the Wheatley Group in Glasgow

Strike a pose! Kate looked delighted as she waved to cameras during the visit to the Wheatley Group in the Scottish city yesterday

Kate is pictured yesterday

Strike a pose! Kate looked delighted as she waved to cameras during the visit to the Wheatley Group in the Scottish city yesterday before putting on an animated display with crowds

The Duke and Duchess appear to have put on their finest charm offensive during the visit, with Kate, 40, seen beaming as she cuddled up and cooed with newborns during yesterday’s tour.

During their relaxed engagements, William appeared playful as he goofed around with children, before the royal couple posed for selfies with locals.  

Their new easygoing approach could also be part of an attempt to to modernise the Royal Family after their Belize, Jamaica and the Bahamas trip which was hit by public relations gaffes and protests. 

In fact, royal sources claimed recently that in wake of the tour, the couple want to be known by their first names instead of their titles and are considering getting rid of bows and curtsies.   

‘The general consensus was that the tour seemed out of date, out of touch, too formal and stuffy’, a royal source told the Mirror. 

‘So now it’s more ‘Wills and Kate’ instead of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge… ‘Just call me Wills’ type of thing.

‘They want to try to avoid the bows and curtsies in public, be more approachable, less formal, less stuffy, and break away with a lot of the tradition and focus on a modern monarchy.’

The news comes as the Queen moves ahead with slimming down the Monarchy and the Palace announced that only senior Royals, which do not include Prince Harry and Meghan and Prince Andrew, will be on the palace balcony for the showpiece Platinum Jubilee celebration. 

Wheatley Homes is Scotland’s leading housing, care and property-management group aiming to tackle homelessness and support vulnerable tenants during the cost of living crisis. 

Kate Middleton and Prince William posed for selfies and played with children as they put on their finest charm offensive during a whirlwind tour of Scotland yesterday

Kate Middleton and Prince William posed for selfies and played with children as they put on their finest charm offensive during a whirlwind tour of Scotland yesterday 

Another baby! Having been charmed by one tiny tot earlier in the day, the Duchess was then left grinning after meeting a newborn during a walkabout

Another baby! Having been charmed by one tiny tot earlier in the day, the Duchess was then left grinning after meeting a newborn during a walkabout 

The mother-of-three crouched down to help the little girl, who was dressed in an all pink outfit for the occasion, as she and William visited the homelessness organisation

The mother-of-three crouched down to help the little girl, who was dressed in an all pink outfit for the occasion, as she and William visited the homelessness organisation

During one of their engagements today, the Duke and Duchess appeared particularly taken by two-year-old Olivia Wilson, who had tumbled to the ground – with Kate helping her to her feet  

During their visit the royal couple met Wheatley Homes Glasgow tenant Joanne Wales, 31, who opened the front door of her new-build home to welcome Their Royal Highnesses.

Inside they met son Jason, four, and heard from Joanne how the energy-efficient house design is helping reduce her energy bills.

Joanne said: ‘With four young kids then energy bills is a big concern. There’s always a need for a new pair of shoes or new clothes. 

‘I had a meeting with the energy advice team and they gave me great tips on how to use my electricity to keep my bills low. I don’t need to put the heating on as much during the day in my new home. It’s made a big difference.’

The Duke and Duchess were met in Kennishead by John MacLeod, Glasgow Deputy Lieutenant, accompanied by his wife, Mariella McLeod. 

They were introduced to Wheatley Group Chief Executive Martin Armstrong, Wheatley Group Chair Jo Armstrong and Bernadette Hewitt, the tenant Chair of Wheatley Homes Glasgow. 

Wheatley Group Chair Jo Armstrong said: ‘We were delighted to welcome the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and show them how Wheatley Group is ‘Making Homes and Lives Better’.

The mother-of-three was elegant in a tonal outfit for the engagements in Glasgow yesterday, pairing a cornflower blue blouse with smart navy trousers

The mother-of-three was elegant in a tonal outfit for the engagements in Glasgow yesterday, pairing a cornflower blue blouse with smart navy trousers 

Goofing around! Prince William didn't hold back while playfully chatting to the toddler yesterday during his visit to Glasgow

Goofing around! Prince William didn't hold back while playfully chatting to the toddler yesterday during his visit to Glasgow

Goofing around! Prince William didn’t hold back while playfully chatting to the toddler yesterday during his visit to Glasgow 

A very royal play-date! Prince William appeared charmed by little Olivia during the visit to Wheatley Homes Glasgow yesterday

A very royal play-date! Prince William appeared charmed by little Olivia during the visit to Wheatley Homes Glasgow yesterday

And it wasn't long before Kate joined in with Prince William to help out with the youngster, who was wearing a pink outfit for the occasion

The two-year-old appeared non-plussed with the royal visitors

And it wasn’t long before Kate joined in with Prince William to help out with the youngster, who was wearing a pink outfit for the occasion

The Duke and Duchess helped two-year-old Olivia up after she tumbled to the ground during their visit yesterday  (pictured)

The Duke and Duchess helped two-year-old Olivia up after she tumbled to the ground during their visit yesterday  (pictured) 

‘They were very interested in the work of our Foundation, about how Wheatley is giving young people the best start in life and also how we are creating new job and training opportunities so customers can reach their full potential. 

‘We also explained how Wheatley is playing a key role across Scotland in tackling homelessness and giving people a home of their own.’

The Duke of Cambridge is a long-standing campaigner for the homeless and is patron of Centrepoint, which helps homeless young people get back into education, training and employment. 

The charity was William’s first patronage and the royal took over the role from his late mother Princess Diana. 

In 2009, the Duke decided to spend the night rough sleeping in order to understand the plight of the homeless at Christmas, staying out in temperatures as low as minus 4c in an alleyway near Blackfriars bridge. 

The Prince said afterwards that the experience had helped to deepen his understanding of life on the streets, calling the charity’s work ‘desperately important’.  

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk

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