Prince William and Kate issue emotional request during their first joint engagement of the year

Prince William and Kate wearing face masks
(Image credit: WireImage)

During their first joint royal engagement of 2021, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge issued an emotional appeal over video link.

As the third lockdown in England continues and the coronavirus mortality rate reaches new heartbreaking highs, Prince William and Kate took the chance to urge frontline workers to take time to look after their mental health in 2021.

The mental health of NHS and other workers has been a key concern throughout the pandemic and it's a cause the royal couple have been passionate about over the last year. They have been urging those on the frontline to reach out since the first lockdown began, launching Our Frontline in April 2020 in partnership with Hospice UK and other charities.

On Wednesday last week, Prince William and Kate spoke to emergency responders and representatives, Tony Collins and Caroline Francis, from Hospice UK's Just 'B' counselling and bereavement support line via a video link.

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"This is an unprecedented time we are all facing." Prince William said during the call, "I think that really needs to be nailed home right now is that this is like nothing before that anyone has ever seen, particularly this third wave we are going through right now."

"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."

Just "B" counsellor Caroline told the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, "A lot of the time, I think they forget to think about themselves and their self-care that they need, and are able to look in on themselves and think 'gosh, I'm not coping as well as I think I am.'

"And yes, we have our own colleagues, and our family and close friends on the end of the phone.

"But I think there's something about ringing the call line and being able to express how you're feeling without worrying about burdening someone you know."

“Yes, you need some courage to pick up the phone but once you’ve done that, it’s invaluable what you get from it.”

Kate and Prince William wearing face masks

Credit: Getty

The Duchess of Cambridge asked the responders how their colleagues could be convinced to prioritise their mental health as she said, "Never has there been a more important time to have services like this out there, so I am glad they are being used as well."

Also during the call, Prince William also drew on his own traumatic experiences as pilot for East Anglian Air Ambulance. He said that the experience of seeing people die left him traumatised afterwards and the world was a "darker, blacker place" so he "really worries" about the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on frontline healthcare workers.

Grace Walsh
Features Writer

Grace Walsh is a health and wellbeing writer, working across the subjects of family, relationships, and LGBT topics, as well as sleep and mental health. A digital journalist with over six years  experience as a writer and editor for UK publications, Grace is currently Health Editor for and has also worked with Cosmopolitan, Red, The i Paper, GoodtoKnow, and more. After graduating from the University of Warwick, she started her career writing about the complexities of sex and relationships, before combining personal hobbies with professional and writing about fitness.