Prince William admits to feeling “very sad”, speaking frankly about mental health

"You start to see the world very differently." 

While on a surprise visit to Belfast, Prince William spoke to a crowd about how he experienced depression during his time serving in the East Anglian Air Ambulance service.

For security reasons, it is normal practice for royal visits to Northern Island to be unannounced. Their itineraries are often undisclosed.

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The trip was in celebration of Emergency Services Day, and the Duke of Cambridge shared his emotional struggles while working for an emergency service that had him facing death and tragedy daily.

He met with blue light responders in Northern Ireland to discuss his experience as a pilot for the East Anglian Air Ambulance from 2014 to 2017. The 30-year-old price highlighted the importance of mental health for those working in such essential, high-pressure positions.

In a speech to the responders, Prince William verbalised his personal account of what it was like to work in emergency services.

"I couldn't put my finger on it, but you just felt very sad," he said. 

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"And then you start to see the world very differently... You start just getting very sad that the world is so hurt. It's only then you go 'hang on, you've got to look at this' because it's only natural that you sponge it and bring it in," the duke added, reflecting on his time piloting an emergency helicopter.

He encouraged those on the frontlines, who regularly face tragedy, to be open about the impact the work can have on mental health.

William said he would often not realised the emotional toll horrors he encountered took, internalising the pain: "For me, it was the sadness, I really felt the sadness, I'd absorb the jobs I'd gone to.

"Sadly with the Air Ambulance you get a lot of deaths and I didn't realise (the impact) - I would go to the next one and the next one.

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"We've got to somehow change that culture where we feel it's okay to say 'listen, this was horrendous, I really didn't enjoy seeing that, it was really brutal'. How do we talk about it?"

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