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Bacolod City, Philippines Friday, April 29, 2011
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BY CARLA GOMEZ

Bacoleña Araceli “Lillie” Piccio, believed to be the only Filipina invited to the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton at Westminster Abbey today, said she has to remind herself not to say “how’s my boy” when she meets the groom.

In Lillie’s mind, the future heir to the British throne and his brother, Prince Harry, are still the young boys she helped raise.

“I love them like they were my own children. It will be like watching a son get married,” said the 63-year-old Lillie, who had worked as the brothers' nanny when they were small.

 She said she keeps forgetting that Prince William and Prince Harry are grown up now.

“One time I saw Prince Charles and said: ‘Your Royal Highness how are the boys?’ and he smiled and said, 'Lillie they are grown men already,'” she told the DAILY STAR in a phone interview yesterday.

Lillie said that when Prince William and Prince Harry see her, they still hug and kiss her.

“In private, I refer to them as my boys, but in public I address them by their official titles, in keeping with royal protocol,” she said.

But she maintained that Prince William and Prince Harry are very down to earth as they were raised by their mother, Princess Diana, to be good to others even if they do not come from royalty like them.

“Princess Diana was a very good mother and her boys meant the world to her. I am sad that she will not be there for the wedding of Prince William. She would have been so proud of him,” Lillie said.

Lillie, who has Bachelor of Science in Education degree from La Consolacion College in Bacolod City, taught at public elementary schools in Candoni town and Bacolod City in Negros Occidental, before she moved to London.

She said that in 1984, her employer whom she did not realize was the private secretary of Prince Charles, recommended her to work for Princess Diana at her residence in the Kensington Palace in London.

At first, she was assigned to keepingthe guest rooms cleanat the ground floor of Kensington Palace but two months later she was told Princess Diana wanted to speak to her.

“The Princess told me, Lillie would you like to work at the nursery, and I said yes,” Lillie said.

She added that Princess Diana would often talk about the two princes, calling them “ the boys.” “That is how I got to calling them the boys, too,” Lillie said.

She recalled that when Prince William was six, he hid her bucket with her cleaning equipment and put a towel over her head. “I chased him with a stick and he giggled as he ran. His mother came out to see what we were up to,” Piccio said.

However, she noted that Prince Harry was the more jolly of the two, adding that Prince William was more reserved.

“Prince William is very bright. He reads a lot of books and the news. He likes to know what is going on around the world,” Lillie said.

After Princess Diana died and Lillie was the one who closed the drapes in the room of her beloved employer for the last time, she went on to work for Princess Margaret.

Lillie said she has retired from the Royal Household so she was surprised when she got an invitation a month ago to the wedding of Prince William.

She said when she saw Prince William and Harry at the funeral of Princess Margaret, they hugged and kissed her. “I teased (Prince) William that (Prince) Harry was more handsome and he (Prince William) laughed,” Lillie said.

“When I see Prince William at the wedding, I will also say: Best wishes, congratulations, may you have many children,” she said.

Lillie said that in one ofher many conversations with Princess Diana, she toldher she wished her boys would have many children.

She laughed and asked me why, and I told herbecause you only have two boys and it would be fun with more children, Lillie said.

 Lillie, who worked with the princess until she died, said when she would come in to fix her room in the morningthe princess would tell her stories and sometimes wouldinterview her about her own life.

“She would ask me why I did not marry, so one day, I said: because by boyfriend married someone else. When she asked me who my boyfriend was, it told her he was Robert Redford and she laughed and laughed,” Lillie said.

When it was my birthday the Princess would take me out to eat with the boys and their body guards. One time she took me to the Ritz Hotel for my birthday, Lillie said.

And when my sister died thePrincess went out of her way to comfort me. I was told by a Filipina the Princess met her at a hospital she had visited that she told her “My Lillie is very sad, she is always crying, her sister died of cancer and I have to comfort her.”

Since the news broke out that she has been invited to the wedding, Lillie has been interviewed by CNN and major television networks.

From what she has heard of Prince William’s bride-to-be, Lillie said, she will be good for him because they have known each other for a long time and they are both mature.

“And (Prince) William was raised by Princess Diana to be a loving and kind man. She loved him and his brother so very much. I am sure she is very proud of what they have become,” said Lillie, who will be attending the wedding in a dress made by Bacolod designer Lourdes Lipa. *CPG

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