Prince William is in the midst of his royal visit to Scotland, a country that holds both his happiest and most painful memories.

On Saturday, the Duke of Cambridge spoke at the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, in his role as the church’s Lord High Commissioner.

During his speech, reported People, William opened up about his personal connection to Scotland, home of the Queen’s beloved Balmoral estate.

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“Along with listening this week, there is something I do want to tell you. Scotland is incredibly important to me and will always have a special place in my heart. I’ve been coming to Scotland since I was a small boy,” he said.

“As I grew up, I saw how my grandmother relishes every minute she spends here. And my father is never happier than when walking among the hills,” William continued.

“In short, Scotland is the source of some of my happiest memories. But also, my saddest,” he added, recalling a particularly painful memory.

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“I was in Balmoral when I was told that my mother had died,” William said. “Still in shock, I found sanctuary in the service at Crathie Kirk that very morning. And in the dark days of grief that followed, I found comfort and solace in the Scottish outdoors. As a result, the connection I feel to Scotland will forever run deep.”

He also reflected on other, happier times spent in Scotland.

“And yet alongside this painful memory, is one of great joy. Because it was here in Scotland — 20 years ago this year — that I first met Catherine,” he said of meeting his future wife while they were both students at the University of St. Andrews.

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“Needless to say, the town where you meet your future wife holds a very special place in your heart,” he explained.

“George, Charlotte and Louis already know how dear Scotland is to both of us, and they are starting to build their own happy memories here too,” he concluded. “We have no doubt they will grow up sharing our love and connection to Scotland from the Highlands to the Central Belt, from the Islands to the Borders.”

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