Duchess of Sussex sends voicemail to teenage penpal recovering from brain tumour

Hannah Furness

The Duchess of Sussex has sent a voicemail message, via her husband, to a 14-year-old admirer who is recovering from a brain tumour.

The Duchess recorded inspiring words for 14-year-old Aleyna Genc, who has been writing to her for two years while undergoing treatment and met the Duke during a visit to Nottingham today. 

While Meghan stayed at home with baby Archie, the Duke travelled to  Nottingham Academy for a day of mental health engagements, where he took the teenager aside to hug her and play the message on his mobile phone. 

Aleyna, who has just completed proton beam therapy following surgery, said afterwards: “Wow. just wow.

“I've been lettering with Meghan for around two years now and she sent me a little voicemail and I listened to that.

“I just sent her a letter because she made a speech and that was the one that really inspired me - her UN women's speech.

“I just wrote to her to say how much it inspired me, and we have been lettering ever since.”

The Duke of Sussex receives a toy dog as a gift from 14-year-old Aleyna Genc Credit: PA

She also gave the Duke a soft toy dog to take home for Archie, inspired by the Pets As Therapy project which helps children in hospital cope with their stress. 

“He said thank you and that he loved it," said Aleyna. "He said he would love it because he hasn't been able to sleep because of Archie for the past few days.”

The Duke, who has made numerous private and official trips to Nottingham since 2013 in an effort to set up and support projects helping young people, also spoke to pupils about their exam stress, joking it was  “the best time of the year...not really.”

Prince Harry greeted by Trevor Rose as he arrives at the Community Recording Studio in Nottingham Credit: PA

He was introduced to a reluctant readers' group at the academy and was greeted by a therapy dog who helps keep them calm while they overcome a lack of confidence and get used to reading in a small group.

Later he watched a scene of a "hip hopera" performance by young people from St Ann's at the city's Community Recording Studio, depicting mental health issues. 

“How many of you are playing a role that is very relatable to your own life?" he asked them. 

“To have that perspective and that awareness of what's potentially happened to you - where you've come from and where you're going - that's gold.

"A lot of people sleepwalk through life unaware of any of that."