Prince William reveals he was taken ‘over the edge’ while flying air ambulance

PUBLISHED: 15:32 20 November 2018

The Duke of Cambridge flew for the East Anglian Air Ambulance between 2015 and 2017. Picture:: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

The Duke of Cambridge flew for the East Anglian Air Ambulance between 2015 and 2017. Picture:: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire


The Duke of Cambridge was left feeling “very sad and very down” after one particularly difficult mission while he was flying with the East Anglian Air Ambulance, he has revealed.

The duke worked as a pilot for the service for two years between 2015 and last year – flying missions from Cambridge Airport to hospitals across the region, including Ipswich, West Suffolk, and Colchester General.

He opened up about his experiences at the inaugural This Can Happen conference at The O2 in London, which aims to address mental health issues in the workplace.

One particular incident “took him over the edge”, he added.

The duke said he was lucky to have worked for the RAF and the East Anglian Air Ambulance, because of their good mental health working practices.

Speaking about his time with the air ambulance, he said: “Talking was really important, but even that wasn’t quite enough for one particular incident for me.

“I worked several times on very traumatic jobs involving children, and after I had my own children I think the relation between the job and the personal life was what really took me over the edge, and I started feeling things that I have never felt before, and I got very sad and very down about this particular family.”

It is understood he was discussing an accident involving a child.

Talking to colleagues helped him to “come to terms with the enormous sadness” of what had happened, he added.

On leaving the Air Ambulance last year, the duke wrote a letter praising its staff and the work they did which was published across the region.

He said: “I have watched our medical team perform surgery on a patient within minutes of jumping off the helicopter – their level of skill is astounding.

“As a pilot at the scene, we will sometimes try and help by co-ordinating the area around the medical team, carrying their kit and doing whatever it takes to ensure they can focus on their work.

“It is a joint effort, and everyone plays his or her role with great professionalism and dedication.

“As a team, we travel to some very daunting incidents and we have been through some incredibly tough times together, witnessing some appalling tragedies.”

On Tuesday the duke was speaking to about 120 employers from different sectors who were represented at the event, which was attended by roughly 750 people.

He urged employers to look after the mental health of workers.

While taking part in a panel discussion, William added: “We spend a vast amount of our time at work.

“There should be a much more open, supportive and compassionate working environment to deal with those sorts of problems.

“There’s still a stigma about mental health. We are chipping away at it but that wall needs to be smashed down.”

Workers need to feel they can speak to people in the HR department, he added.

He also spoke about the responsibility of looking after his own staff, who he said sometimes work “silly hours”.

It is important they “keep an eye on the hours they work” and the commuting they do, he added.

William campaigns alongside the Duchess of Cambridge and the Duke of Sussex for mental health initiative Heads Together.

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