Prince William and Kate lead tributes to Dame Deborah James as she passes away age 40

Dame Deborah James has passed away at the age of 40 after a long fight against bowel cancer and is remembered by royalty and celebrities

Dame Deborah James
(Image credit: Future: Canva / Getty )

Dame Deborah James has passed away at the age of 40 after a long struggle with bowel cancer. Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge have led the tributes to her memory and spoke about her 'legacy' that will live on.

"We are so sad to hear the heartbreaking news about Dame Deborah. Our thoughts are with her children, her family and her loved ones. Deborah was an inspirational and unfalteringly brave woman whose legacy will live on. W & C," said the royal couple on Twitter on Tuesday, June 29, 2022.

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For the Duke of Cambridge, this message was a personal tribute. Prince William reportedly moved 'heaven and earth' to ensure Deborah James' Damehood earlier in the year and even made a surprise visit to award Deborah James with her damehood personally. This honor was bestowed on her after she raised millions for bowel cancer charities and spread awareness about this horrible type of cancer.

Dame Deborah was delighted to meet the Prince at the time and spoke warmly about meeting the Prince at her home. "Prince William actually came to our family house today!! I am utterly honoured that he joined us for afternoon tea and champagne, where he not only spent a generous amount of time talking to my whole family but also honoured me with my Damehood," said Deborah back on May 13.

A post shared by Deborah James (@bowelbabe) (opens in new tab)

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Dame Deborah's passing was announced by her family on social media and thoughtful messages from across the world have been pouring in. 

The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson said on social media, "I’m terribly saddened to hear that Dame Deborah James has died. What an inspiration she was to so many. The awareness she brought to bowel cancer and the research her campaigning has funded will be her enduring legacy. Because of her, many many lives will be saved."

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Chief Executive of the NHS, Amanda Pritchard said on social media, "On behalf of the whole NHS, I want to offer my condolences to the loved ones of Deborah James — her amazing attitude was humbling and a lesson to us all. Her fundraising has helped countless cancer patients and her determination to raise awareness will have saved many lives."

Loose Women presenter, Charlene White said, "Cancer’s rubbish. Being a kid who loses a parent to cancer’s rubbish. Being a kid watching a parent fade away cos of cancer is rubbish. In the midst of all that Dame Deborah educated millions about cancer’s reality. I’m honoured to have shared the fight with her. Debs, thank-you."

"RIP Dame Deborah James, aka Bowel Babe. A truly remarkable and inspiring woman. Such sad news," said Piers Morgan.

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BBC presenter, Adele Roberts said on Instagram, "My heart hurts 💔Thank you for everything Deborah. Thank you for being so strong for so long and helping others when you were in so much pain yourself. You are the best of us. Thinking of your family and friends and I am forever grateful to you for helping me and my family ❤️Rebellious hope forever 🙏🏽"

Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield, and Lorraine Kelly also paid tribute to Dame Deborah on This Morning and Lorraine. Lorraine Kelly wore a pink blazer, a tribute to Deborah's favorite color, and a 'rebellious hope' T-shirt which became Deborah's slogan. The presenter also cried on television as they watched clips of Deborah campaigning.

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Transport for London also paid a heartfelt tribute to Dame Deborah with a long statement about her life and work posted on a whiteboard at a London underground station.

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As the nation mourns fans remember the incredible impact the campaigner had on people across the UK and her moving final statement. 

Dame Deborah's final message which was shared by her family when announcing her death reads, "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."

Laura is a news writer for woman&home who primarily covers entertainment and celebrity news. Laura dabbles in lifestyle, royal, beauty, and fashion news, and loves to cover anything and everything to do with television and film. She is also passionate about feminism and equality and loves writing about gender issues and feminist literature.


Laura loves drinking and eating and can often be found trying to get reservations at London's trendiest restaurants. When she's not wining and dining, Laura can also be found travelling, baking, and hiking with her dog.