Prince William and Prince Harry offer their support for a Welsh rugby legend who revealed he’s living with HIV

“Courageous as ever – legend on the pitch and legend off it,” wrote Prince William to Gareth Thomas. “You have our support."
prince harry and prince williamGetty Images

Welsh rugby legend Gareth Thomas revealed on Sunday that he has been living with HIV in a video posted to his Twitter account, after it’s been implied he was forced to do so after a tabloid newspaper discovered his HIV status.

“Hello, I’m Gareth Thomas and I want to share my secret with you,” Gareth begins in his video statement.

“Why? Because it’s mine to tell you. Not the evils that make my life hell, threatening to tell you before I do. And because I believe in you, and I trust you,” he says, as he grows emotional.

“I am living with HIV.

“Now you have that information that makes me extremely vulnerable, but it does not make me weak. Now even though I’ve been forced to tell you this, I choose to fight, to educate and to break the stigma around the subject.

“And that begins today, when I take on the toughest Iron Man in the world in Tenby and I push myself physically to the limits.”

Adding, “I’m asking you to help me to show that everyone lives in fear of people’s reactions and opinions, but that doesn’t mean we have to hide. But to do this, I really really need your support.”

Loading the player...

The video at the time of writing has since received more than 3.5 million views, with fans, followers and the sporting community sharing their love and support for the 45-year-old, including Prince William and Prince Harry, who both shared personal messages to the former Welsh captain on their social media accounts.

“Courageous as ever – legend on the pitch and a legend off it,” wrote Prince William on the Kensington Palace social media accounts.

“You have our support Gareth,” which he signed simply, “W”

Prince Harry also wrote a personal message to Gareth, nicknamed Alfie, sharing his admiration for the athlete and condemning the fact that Gareth felt forced to reveal his truth against his own terms.

“Gareth, you are an absolute legend!” Harry wrote alongside an image of Gareth shared on @sussexroyal.

“In sharing your story of being HIV+, you are saving lives and shattering stigma, by showing you can be strong and resilient while living with HIV.

“We should all be appalled by the way you were forced to speak your truth, it is yours and yours alone to share on your terms and I and millions stand with you. – H”

The post continues, “A lot of you will know who Gareth Thomas is, but many of you may not.

“This retired welsh rugby player, father, husband, role model – today revealed he is HIV positive,” before sharing what Gareth revealed in his emotional video statement.

Gareth Thomas came out as gay in 2009 and seven years later married his husband Stephen in 2016.

Speaking to the BBC One in a new documentary, Gareth opened up about his decision on revealing he was living with HIV and said it felt similar to coming out as gay because of “the fear, the hiding, the secrecy, the not knowing how people are going to react.

“But I think when it was all about my sexuality it just seemed like there was more empathy and more understanding because you had more knowledge, because you could turn on the telly and you could see that there was LGBT representation on most platforms.”

The documentary revealed a tabloid newspaper found out about his HIV status, and began showing up at his parents’ home.

“I needed to take control of my life,” he said in the documentary, according to the BBC.

“When you have a secret that other people know about it makes you really vulnerable towards them. And I just, I felt like I had no control over my own life.”

Gareth Thomas and Prince William in 2007 – William is the vice royal patron of the Welsh Rugby Union. (Image: Getty)

Prince Harry and Prince William have long followed in the footsteps of their late mother Princess Diana, who worked hard to help reduce the stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS during her lifetime.

In 2006 Prince Harry co-founded the charity Sentebale with Prince Seeiso of Lesotho in honour of their mothers, which works to support the mental health and wellbeing of children and young people affected by HIV/AIDS in Lesotho, Botswana and Malawi.

And in 2016, the royal livestreamed getting an HIV test on Facebook to help raise awareness during a visit to Guy and St Thomas’ Hospital.

The move was met with high praise by Sir Elton John, who took to social media to praise Harry for furthering his mother’s cause.

“In 1999, Princess Diana moved a mountain by addressing the stigma surrounding people living with HIV/AIDS,” the legendary singer wrote.

“She showed the world we could safely wrap our arms around AIDS patients, by shaking hands with a patient without gloves.

“Today in London, Prince Harry gave that stigma a knock on the head by showing the world how easy and simple it is to take an HIV test.

“Bravo Prince Harry! Your mother would be so proud of you.”

Related stories