Three Princes reveal how their path to TV fame was born from brotherly love
PUBLISHED: 17:00 02 February 2020
Initially formed as part of a local effort to increase awareness of epilepsy, St Albans band of brothers Princes to Kings has grown from strength to strength since it was founded in 2015, including a recent appearance on The Michael McIntyre Show. Speaking to It's OK To Say founder Stacey Turner, the boys explain how they support each other through life's challenges.
"I'm famous now!" texted Luke Pile to his three brothers, following the recent surprise appearance of Princes to Kings on a primetime BBC TV show.
Luke, 22, who has complex epilepsy, sat beside his parents and friends in the audience and watched on emotionally as his brothers Josh, 20, Finn 17, and Zac, 14, were tricked into thinking they were making their way through an escape room, yet when the screen dropped, they found themselves face-to-face with Michael McIntyre on stage at The London Palladium!
"We were in shock, it didn't really feel real, it was so genuinely realistic," the boys told me, laughing.
Their mum Rebecca, who studied music herself, explained how she and Luke had registered the boys to play on show the previous year. They came back to say while they were interested, they'd never had a band on before.
She said: "It then all happened so suddenly, and I had to arrange for their kit to be secretly sent to The Palladium. My husband took the boys into London on a day out, and as soon as they left, a van turned up five minutes later! They knew they were going to do an escape room, but that was all part of a carefully-planned day."
The boys laughed and said: "We were so clueless!"
"I said to Dad, 'Oh look, we are right near the Palladium!" said Zac, "It's such an iconic building, how could I not notice it?"
The band was formerly known as Purple Day, named after the international grassroots effort dedicated to increasing awareness about epilepsy worldwide.
Every March 26, people in countries around the world are invited to wear purple and host events in support of epilepsy awareness.
Josh and Zac started Purple Day and won the 2015 St Albans Got Talent competition, before carrying on busking and doing gigs with an aim of raising awareness and funds for the Epilepsy Society in support of Luke.
They were eventually joined by Finn on drums and cajon, before relaunching as Princes to Kings.
They have continued to focus on their charity work as much as possible, including playing live at the Great Ormond Street Christmas party. GOSH is very dear to the family, they spent so much time their growing up with the treatment and care Luke required.
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"It's important to give back by using what we have, the reach is important to us, we know what it's like and we reach out and connect with other people who suffer from epilepsy, carers and other families."
Finn added: "We just want to reach as many people as possible."
Josh revealed how Luke's condition has shaped his life: "I was a young carer, you just grow up being a carer, Luke was our priority, I was even known at school as Luke's brother. He would have a seizure at school, or something would happen, and they would pull me out of class, not always to help, but to ensure I knew he was OK. When Luke left school, I was no longer Luke's brother, I was Josh!"
Zac and Finn explained how Luke also has learning difficulties: "So it's a complex situation and one we instinctively know as a family how to manage, finding ourselves surrounding him to go up the stairs or move around. He can have a seizure at any moment and with our friends, we found ourselves normalising it, because it can be very scary to see.
"We are always aware, always alert," Zac said, "but yeah you grow up quite fast, always on automatic mode."
Being a musical family, one way they helped Luke was by singing and playing music. "He just connects and responds to music and thinks he's in a band!"
The family saw the calming effect of music, and now he is soothed by the brotherly harmony that is Princes to Kings.
Luke now lives in independent living in his own flat. The family explained how he has a big and infectious personality with so many friends.
"He tries to do everything, not letting any possible limitations hold him back."
Luke is a huge Manchester United fan and keeps the boys up to date with the scores: "We see him regularly, he loves seeing us, but he also loves to go home!"
It has taken a while for the family to adjust to Luke living independently. The transition was not an easy one, yet a positive move and one where Rebecca has watched her sons, Josh, Finn and Zac flourish.
"I was acutely aware of the role these boys played in Zac's upbringing from such a young age and it was hard. Zac would go into nursery and they would ask him what he did at the weekend, he would just say, 'Oh Luke had a seizure'! They were born carers and have grown up intuitive."
Josh explained: "I felt like 'What do I do now?' Suddenly, you have space to be you, but it wasn't deliberate, Luke had always been our priority. When I was still in school, I started talking to the school counsellor who would ask me how I was, I was like, I don't really like this because I'm not used to it."
"Chasing Cars is our favourite song, it's our family song, Luke knows all the words," Rebecca explained, "it's an emotional song, the lyrics 'If I just lay here...' has significance because Luke would just lay for hours after a seizure and the boys would lay cradling him."
Josh added" "I feel like things with Luke are cyclical, he is this big personality, he has been the focus of our family and it is because of him that we would sing, even now he is always encouraging. We'd jump up after watching Britain's Got Talent, do an audition and he would give us a score! Now we have ended up being centre stage and he was there to watch."