Prince William didn’t like to “burden” his family with the “stresses and strains” of work as an air ambulance pilot.
The Duke of Cambridge – who held the job for two years between 2015 and 2017 – spoke of the “split personalities” often seen in emergency service workers who want to shield their loved ones from the “tragic” realities of their jobs and insisted they cannot be expected to “continually shoulder the strain of their roles without any consequences” while calling on them to look after themselves as well as they do others.
Unveiling a support package for staff and volunteers, William reflected on his own experiences and said: “Supporting the mental health of our emergency services is extremely personal to me.
“I remember the pressure of attending calls in the most stressful conditions, sometimes with tragic conclusions. I remember the sense of solidarity with my team, pulling together to do the best we could and sharing the weight of responsibility.
“I also remember returning home with the stresses and strains of the day weighing on my mind, and wanting to avoid burdening my family with what I had seen.”
William – who has sons Princes George and Louis, eight and two, and six-year-old daughter Princess Charlotte with wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge – also featured in a video at his Royal Foundation event, in which he spoke to emergency care assistant Chloe Taylor, 24, and paramedic Will Parish, 27, about the pressures of their roles and admitted he had been “really affected” by jobs involving children but was grateful he could talk to colleagues afterwards.
He said: “If we weren’t affected by emotions, we’d all be robots. So, you know, it’s OK to be affected by emotions. It’s very British for us all to worry about, you know, being affected by emotions – but we all are.
“That’s what makes our relationships important. It’s crucial. But it’s just managing those feelings so we can have time to feel we can breathe again.”
The event was held to launch Blue Light Together, a new package of mental health support for emergency responders and their families which includes a pledge to prioritise wellbeing, a website of resources and the Blue Light Together Network of emergency services therapists in one easy-to-navigate directory.
Hailing it a “big moment” at a “critical time”, the prince said: “We cannot expect our emergency responders to be able to continually shoulder the strain of their roles without any consequences…
“I would like to offer my heartfelt thanks on behalf of a grateful nation to all emergency responders – from whichever service, doing whatever role, in any location across the UK.
“The work you do is some of the toughest out there, and we owe you an enormous debt of gratitude. I would only ask that you look out for your own wellbeing, just as you tirelessly care for everyone else’s.”