Prince William reflects on ‘leading two different lives’ as he opens up about blocking loved ones from ‘who you are’

Prince William served in the East Anglian Air Ambulance for two years.

Prince William, the Earl of Strathearn pays a visit to the BAE Systems shipyard to observe construction of HMS Glasgow
(Image credit: Photo by Andrew Milligan - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Prince William has got candid about being an emergency responder before taking on royal duties full time as he revealed it can sometimes feel like you're leading “two different lives”. 

In a new video shared on the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s YouTube channel, Prince William chatted with emergency responders Will and Chloe about mental health and support. Despite being second in the royal line of succession, he served as an emergency responder himself in the East Anglia Air Ambulance service and has previously recalled being traumatized for “weeks on end” during his pilot days.  

The film was played at a Symposium on November 25th, attended by 200 leaders from across fire, ambulance, police, and search and rescue to address the mental health of their workforces. During their discussion, emergency responder Will spoke out about how often it’s “very difficult” for family members to process why they wouldn’t want to talk about what they’d experienced there and then. 

Prince William agreed, going on to explain how in compartmentalising work and home life in this way, emergency responders like he once was often end up leading “two different lives”.

“People want to protect their families and their loved ones from, you know, horrendous and horrible and very sad things, but you’re leading two different lives,” he declared. “And you’re blocking your loved ones out from a very important part of who you are and who you’re becoming.”

The Duke of Cambridge then expressed his belief that more training is needed in order to help emergency responders manage this element of their work. 

“So there’s nothing in the training to really promote that is there?” he asked Will and Chloe. “We’re meant to individually adapt and so it depends on what your background is. You might not have the toolbox you need to deal with all these things. So, you know, we need the training and we need the education to help.” 

Prince William, Duke of Cambridge smiles as he poses for a photo with his colleagues before he starts his final shift with the East Anglian Air Ambulance

 Prince William, Duke of Cambridge smiles as he poses for a photo with his colleagues before he starts his final shift with the East Anglian Air Ambulance.

(Image credit: Photo by Heathcliff O'Malley - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

In a heartbreaking moment, Prince William also went on to explain how when he was an Air Ambulance pilot from 2015-2017, any call-out that involved children hugely affected him. He expressed his belief that it did so more than it might’ve done had he not been a proud father-of-three. 

“There were a number of times where I was just getting too involved in it and feeling it,” he said. “Going to talk to someone else after the event was really important but it continues. It doesn’t leave you there, you just manage it better.” 

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Prince William went on to retire from the East Anglia Air Ambulance service in 2017 as he prepares for his future role as king. Despite the many challenging moments he's experienced throughout his time with the service, it's one he remains steadfastly proud of.

In a statement on the Royal Family's official website, Prince William declared, "I have loved being part of a team of professional, talented people that save lives every day. My admiration for our country's medical and emergency services community could not be any stronger."

Emma Shacklock
Emma Shacklock

Emma is a Senior Lifestyle Writer with five years experience working in digital publishing, ranging from book publishing to magazines. She currently looks after all things Lifestyle for Woman&Home, GoodToKnow and My Imperfect Life.

Before she joined Future Publishing, Emma graduated from the University of Warwick with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Comparative Literary Studies. After leaving education, she started out her publishing career in the world of books, working as a Publisher for an independent digital publisher specializing in back-list and debut commercial fiction novels. With a huge book list and a passion for bringing the best stories to the broadest audience possible, Emma filled her spare time with reading the latest best-sellers and catching up on hit adaptations.

In 2017 she joined TI Media as a fiction writing coordinator on Woman’s Weekly and Woman’s Weekly Fiction as part of the features team. From here, she used her love of books, working to bring short stories to our dedicated readers and began writing for the books pages of Woman, Woman’s Own and Woman&Home, as well as online features ranging from genre round-ups to travel pieces for 

After honing her skills, Emma branched out online in 2020 when Future gave her the opportunity to focus on digital-first. When she’s not writing about the next big lifestyle trend, she enjoys cooking, long walks and watching as many crime dramas as she can!