Prince William recalls ‘seeing death’ as an air ambulance pilot
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge chatted to emergency responders and counsellors in a video call on Wednesday. An adorable framed photo of William and Kate’s eldest son can be seen behind the royal couple in their Norfolk home Anmer Hall.
The snap was taken by keen amateur photographer Kate and released to mark George’s sixth birthday in July 2019.
In the picture, the youngster is wearing an England football shirt and is laughing as he lies on the grass in the grounds of Kensington Palace.
During their video call, William and Kate warned the nation faces dealing with “broken police officers and emergency services staff” too concerned with battling the coronavirus pandemic to look after their mental health.
Phil Spencer, Wellbeing Inspector of Cleveland Police, told the royal couple: “I think police just get on with it.
Eagle-eyed royal fans may have noticed a sweet framed picture of Prince George in the background
The snap was taken by keen amateur photographer Kate and released to mark George’s sixth birthday in July 2019
“Like a lot of emergency services we run towards danger, run towards a terrorist attack, we run towards the pandemic, and I personally think this is why police haven’t engaged perhaps as much as we could have (with the counselling) at Just B, is because we don’t want to take anybody else’s valuable time.
“Perhaps further down the line when all this is gone we’re going to have some broken police officers and emergency services staff, because we’re too busy focusing on protecting the most vulnerable.”
Mr Spencer also described the NHS as “absolute heroes” but said officers were “seen as the villains sometimes – again can’t do right for doing wrong – having to put the fines out and lay down the law”.
The Cambridges’ Royal Foundation has been providing financial support for Just B through its Covid-19 Response Fund.
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The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge chatted to emergency responders and counsellors in a video call on Wednesday
Just B offers confidential and free-to-access bereavement and wellbeing support for NHS staff, social care workers, carers and all emergency services personnel who may be experiencing personal bereavement, anxiety, trauma or the impact of dealing with large numbers of deaths in their working lives.
William said about Just B: “I think people need to understand how you are normal human beings doing a brilliant job in a very, very difficult time and I hope this service gives people the outlet that they need.
“I fear, like you said, you’re all so busy caring for everyone else that you won’t take enough time to care for yourselves, and we won’t see the impacts for quite some time.”
William opened up about his own experiences of when he was an air ambulance pilot.
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William and Kate are parents to Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis
He said: “When you see so much death and so much bereavement it does impact how you see the world.
“It is very interesting what you said about being able to see things in a different light.”
Referring to a comment made by a member of the London Ambulance Service, William added: “I think you said about thinking everyone around you is going to die – that is what really worries me about the frontline staff at the moment, is that you are so under the cosh at the moment and so pressurised and you’re seeing such high levels of sadness, trauma, death, that it impacts your own life and your own family life because it is always there.
“You’re so drawn into it, which everyone is, it is only natural that would happen.
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“But that’s what I think a lot of the public don’t understand, that when you’re surrounded by that level of intense trauma and sadness and bereavement, it really does, it stays with you at home, it stays with you for weeks on end, doesn’t it, and you see the world in a much more, slightly depressed, darker, blacker place.”
William and Kate both stressed the importance of frontline personnel reaching out for support.
Carly Kennard, an emergency call co-ordinator with the London Ambulance Service, told the Cambridges she was supported by a Just B counsellor after “struggling” to deal with grief following the unexpected death of her uncle just before Christmas.
She said she phoned a counsellor after first hesitating.
Ms Kennard said: “I called and I spoke to a lovely lady, I cried to the lovely lady and it helped.
“It’s still early, and I’m still not OK, but I know I’ve got the support networks around me to help.”