Prince William is speaking about a traumatic experience he had as an ambulance pilot.
The 39-year-old spoke on his new Apple+ podcast, Time To Walk, on his time working with the East Anglian Air Ambulance.
The prince started began working for the service in 2015 and was involved with all aspects of the job as a pilot, including medical operations.
“Seeing patients and families ripped apart on almost a daily basis, that routine, you just get into a habit of head down and get on with it,” he said.
“I still remember the crew who were on, great mates of mine. We had a paramedic and a doctor on and another pilot flying with me. And the call we get is very brief, not very detailed. So we were kind of expecting a sort of minor injury case,” he said.
“And of course there’s some things in life you don’t really want to see. And all we cared about at the time was fixing this boy. And the parents are very hysterical, as you can imagine, screaming, wailing, not knowing what to do, you know, and in, in real agony themselves. And that lives with you,” William explained.
The team quickly went to work, stabilized the boy and flew him to a local hospital to get him the additional care he needed. But the experience would haunt William for much longer than just his shift.
“I went home that night pretty upset but not noticeably. I wasn’t in tears, but inside, I felt something had changed. I felt a sort of… a real tension inside of me,” he said. “And then, the next day, going back in again to work, you know, different crew. On to the next job. And that’s the thing, you’re not always all together. So then you can’t spend a day processing it.”
“You have a reluctance to talk about it because you don’t want to hold each other up. You, you don’t want to, you know, burden other people. You also don’t want to think, ‘Oh, is it just me? Am I the only one who’s really affected by that?'” he said.
Weeks later, William admitted it had felt like someone had “put a key in a lock and opened it without me giving permission to do that.”
“I felt like the whole world was dying. It’s an extraordinary feeling. You just feel everyone’s in pain, everyone’s suffering. And that’s not me. I’ve never felt that before,” he went on.
“I was happy at home and happy at work, but I kept looking at myself, going, ‘Why am I feeling like this? Why do I feel so sad?’ And I started to realize that, actually, ‘You’re taking home people’s trauma, people’s sadness, and it’s affecting you,’” he said.
“But I can’t explain why I had that realization what was going on because a lot of people don’t have that realization. And that is where you can slip unnoticed into the next problem. I think, until you’ve been through it, it’s hard to… hard to understand,” he continued.
“And you’re not alone, and it’s okay. It’s about what you do next. It’s about having that boldness and that openness and that strength to go, ‘It’s going to be a long journey. It’s not going to be easy, but I’m going to get there,'” he said
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