Dame Deborah James’ mother dubs Prince William a ‘People’s King’ as she reveals ‘hardest thing’ about her late daughter’s illness

Dame Deborah James' mother Heather has opened up about her daughter's final days as she revealed she lived a life 'with no regrets'...

Deborah James' mother revealed the "hardest thing" about her daughter's final days, seen here is Dame Deborah James at Royal Ascot
(Image credit: Future// Image 1: Photo by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images for Royal Ascot)

Dame Deborah James’ mother Heather dubbed Prince William a “People’s King’ as she revealed the “hardest thing” about her late daughter’s cancer battle.

Dame Deborah James passed away aged 40 on June 29th after being diagnosed with bowel cancer back in 2016. The campaigner and host of the BBC’s You, Me and the Big C podcast had been visited at her home just a month before by Prince William, who awarded her a Damehood for her incredible work raising awareness of bowel cancer and raising millions of pounds for cancer research. 

Also known as Bowelbabe, Deborah received end-of-life treatment at home this year, with her mum Heather James her main carer at this time. Now Heather has shared new details about the family’s meeting with the Queen’s grandchild in May and her daughter’s final days.

READ MORE: Deborah James Bowelbabe documentary - release date and where to watch

BBC Radio 5 live presenter Deborah (BowelBabe) James from the podcast You, Me and the Big C

(Image credit: Mark Waugh / Alamy Stock Photo)

Dubbing Prince William the “People’s King”, Heather James revealed he put them all “at ease” during his home visit to award Deborah her damehood. According to the BBC, Heather opened up on BBC Breakfast about her late daughter and explained that when she first heard William would be visiting she told her family she needed a new lounge. 

However, the Duke of Cambridge “put [them] so much at ease”, Heather explained, before reflecting that he came across as just like one of the family. 

“He was just like one of my son-in-laws. He just sat down with us and he was so lovely, I think he is a people's king”, she declared. 

Heather’s gratitude for William’s down-to-earth approach at her Woking home came as the devoted mum revealed the “hardest thing” about her daughter’s illness. 

“The hardest thing was knowing that she was going to die and, as a mother, knowing I couldn't do anything about it," Heather explained, before saying that despite Dame Deborah living a life “with no regrets”, she confessed to her mum she didn’t want to pass away. 

“She did say 'I don't want to die',” she confessed. “And that's the hardest, saddest part."

Dame Deborah set up the Bowelbabe fund to raise money for vital research into personalised medicine for cancer patients and has now raised over £7 million. Describing the last eight weeks of her daughter’s life as probably the “best” the family spent together, Heather reflected on Dame Deborah writing the final chapter of her second book.

"That must have been the toughest to write for her, because she knew she only had days left," Heather added. "She could still have the beautiful ability to write right up to the end."

In a heartbreaking post on social media accounting Dame Deborah’s passing in June, her family shared a final inspiring message from the campaigner and podcast host.

“And a few final things from Deborah…“find a life worth enjoying; take risks; love deeply; have no regrets; and always, always have rebellious hope. And finally, check your poo – it could just save your life.”, it powerfully declared. 

How To Live When You Could Be Dead by Dame Deborah James will be published on August 18th and can be pre-ordered now.  

Emma Shacklock
Senior Lifestyle Writer

Emma is a Senior Lifestyle Writer with six years of experience working in digital publishing, ranging from book publishing to magazines. She currently looks after all things Lifestyle for Woman&Home, Goodto.com, and My Imperfect Life.