Prince William has revealed that attending the site of traumatic accidents when he was working as an air ambulance pilot “took him over the edge,” while one particular tragedy involving children left him feeling “very sad and very down.”
William was speaking about his trauma working for the ambulance service, in which he regularly attended the site of lethal road crashes, as part of Heads Together, the campaign launched by himself and the other young royals to tackle and raise awareness of mental-health issues.
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.”
William was criticized at certain stages of his service for reportedly slacking off work, but his heartfelt revelations raise the possibility that he was overwhelmed emotionally by the job.
The prince said, with extraordinary candor: “I started feeling things that I have never felt before, and I got very sad and very down about one particular family.”
William added that talking to colleagues helped him to “come to terms with the enormous sadness” of what had happened on the call-out, but he did not divulge any details of the tragedy.
The Duke of Cambridge became a full-time pilot with the RAF Search and Rescue Force in early 2009, working as a rescue pilot of four years.
William added: “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.”
Last week, William made a dramatic intervention into the debate around social-media privacy after he slammed leaders of tech companies as hypocrites who burnished their own images and reputations while ignoring the social and mental-health problems they cause.