A speech by Prince William of Wales at the Orange British Academy Film Awards (BAFTA)

Published 21 February 2010

Thank you for all you do to support the genius of film.

The Duke of Cambridge

Becoming President of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts is a great honour for me. The visual arts are such a vital part of what makes up the fabric of this Nation. I am so grateful to Lord Attenborough for inviting me to take over from him.

Britain has been a world leader in so many ways, not least in its cultural achievements. From the days of Shakespeare to our own of Shakespeare in Love, British playwrights, script writers, actors, film makers and now video game designers have led the way globally, if not always in terms of resource then undoubtedly in talent and innovation. From what we are about to see tonight, it is quite clear that the same extraordinary cultural dynamism that so infused the first Elizabethan age still drives the beating heart of British visual arts in this second Elizabethan era.

I feel especially honoured by this appointment, as my family has had such close connections with BAFTA throughout its history. My grandfather, The Duke of Edinburgh, was there right at the start, presiding over that exciting time which saw the coming together of the British Film Academy and the Guild of Television Producers and Directors.

He was followed as President by Lord Mountbatten, who in turn handed over to my aunt, The Princess Royal. And, of course, for the past eight years, the Academy has been in the uniquely capable hands of one of the true greats of British Film. Lord Attenborough.

I just wish he was well enough to be here tonight, so I could say that to his face. So now perhaps you can see why I feel this is such a privilege for me - and I will do my level best to live up to my illustrious predecessors. And I have to say, there is almost nothing better than going to see a really good film, so this is a great personal thrill for me too.

Occasions such as tonight are obviously wonderful showcases for the British film industry, but I am also extremely excited about the prospect of working with BAFTA on its myriad charitable endeavours. Because what is less known about this wonderful organisation is how much good it does for young people with its mentoring schemes, career starter initiatives and learning and events activity across the country.

So, thank you for all you do to support the genius of film. Thank you for asking me to become your fifth President. It is a very great honour.