Prince William has praised emergency service workers who responded to the ‘dreadful’ stabbings in Birmingham, during a surprise visit to Belfast today to meet with frontline staff.
A knifeman rampaged across the English city centre in the early hours of Sunday, stabbing a student to death and leaving several others injured.
The Duke of Cambridge, 38, referenced the ‘dreadful’ attack when undertaking a range of engagements in the Northern Irish capital to mark Emergency Services Day (999 Day), which falls on September 9 each year.
He spent the day with Northern Irish responders at Garnerville Police College, to thank them for their efforts and to discuss the importance of mental health support for those working in the emergency services.
In keeping with royal visits to Northern Ireland, details were not released in advance and the itinerary was not disclosed for security reasons.
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Prince William, pictured wearing a face mask, made a surprise visit to Belfast today to meet with frontline responders and emergency services
Prince William spoke with police officers (pictured) about the importance of mental health support during his visit to Belfast today
The royal (pictured) spent the day with Northern Irish responders to thank them for their work
In a speech to an audience of blue light responders, the duke hailed their dedication during the pandemic, as well as their efforts every day.
‘Your dedication is not only apparent when we are faced with a global pandemic. Each and every day, people from teams across the blue light community are called to the scenes of dreadful incidents.’
William highlighted the response of the emergency services to the recent stabbing attacks in Birmingham.
‘But as you care for us in our time of need, so too must we ensure that we are there for you when you need it the most,’ he added.
‘We must ensure that you have the right support in place each and every day. I know first hand, that even in routine circumstances, those of you on the front line can face immense challenges that can naturally have a significant impact on both your physical and mental health.
‘Firstly, it’s important that we recognise that. And secondly, it’s important that we do all we can to support you through it.’
The duke (pictured right, and left, making a speech) discussed the importance of mental health support for those working in the emergency services
The father-of-three met Tara, a five-month-old Irish Red Setter, trained as a PTSD training dog
Prince William spoke with attendees of a PSNI Wellbeing Volunteer Training course, including representatives from the Ambulance and Fire and Rescue services (pictured)
The duke (pictured) discussed his own experiences working with the air ambulance, and the mental strains that came with his role, as he took part in training workshops
Attending a Police Service of Northern Ireland Wellbeing Volunteer Training course at the Garnerville Police College, the royal also met with representatives from the Ambulance and Fire and Rescue services.
The duke spoke of his own experiences working with the air ambulance, and the mental strains that came with his role, as he took part in training workshops.
He highlighted the need to enhance support services and create a culture where people feel comfortable to talk about what they are going through.
During his visit to the college, William also met five-month-old Irish setter Tara, who has been trained to provide comfort to those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Prince William, pictured, meeting with chiefs of the PSNI, Fire Service and Ambulance Service
In a speech to an audience of blue light responders, the duke (seen speaking with frontline staff) hailed their dedication during the pandemic, as well as their efforts every day
Prince William takes part in a video call with frontline workers during his tour of the college when visiting Belfast today
Dressed in a blue suit and matching shirt and tie, Prince William was captured wearing a face mask (pictured left) for part of his visit today
The duke recalled meeting PSNI officers during a visit with his wife Kate to Hillsborough Castle earlier this year. He referred to the unique challenges they face in policing the region.
‘We were struck then, as I am now, by your steadfast commitment to helping others,’ he said. ‘You are a testament to the blue light community across our country, and I can’t thank you enough for what you do.
‘At one point or another, each and every one of us will meet you or one of your colleagues, speak to you, be comforted by you and benefit from the care and protection you provide.
‘Given what we ask of you, we must do all we can to look out for you, and to help you to look out for each other.’
The duke (pictured) recalled meeting PSNI officers during a visit with his wife Kate to Hillsborough Castle earlier this year. He referred to the unique challenges they face in policing the region
William’s (pictured) trip to the region came a day after he convened the first meeting of a new body established to improve mental health support for members of emergency services across the UK
During his visit to the college, William met five-month-old Irish setter Tara (pictured), who has been trained to provide comfort to those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
During his visit, the royal (pictured) highlighted the need to enhance support services and create a culture where people feel comfortable to talk about what they are going through
William’s trip to the region came a day after he convened the first meeting of a new body established to improve mental health support for members of emergency services across the UK.
The Emergency Responder Senior Leader Board, which brings together leaders from across all 999 organisations, will promote collaborative working to ensure all emergency responders receive the mental health support they need.
The board was established by the duke in response to a recommendation arising from a research project commissioned by The Royal Foundation in 2018 into the mental health and wellbeing of emergency responders in the UK.
It comes after the Duke saluted the emergency services for their ‘tireless work’ and their incredible efforts during the Covid-19 pandemic in an online speech earlier this week.
Outfit change! The Duke of Cambridge arrives for a visit to the Community Rescue Service at Cave Hill Country Park as part of his tour of Belfast
The Duke of Cambridge speaks with Community Rescue Service (CRS) founder and regional commander Sean McCarry as he arrives for a visit to the CRS at Cave Hill Country Park
The father-of-three, 38, sported a stylish green garment for his second engagement of the day
Belfast Cathedral was meant to be the venue for the ceremony which was due to take place today, but it was moved online due to Covid-19.
During his speech, Prince William stressed what a great source of pride the emergency services community is for the UK, and he thanked them repeatedly for the way in which they helped save others during the Covid-19 crisis.
Speaking in a video from Kensington Palace, he said: ‘At one point or another, each and everyone of us will benefit from the care and protection provided by our emergency services.
Prince William, 38, has made a surprise visit to Belfast today to meet with frontline workers and first responders
The Duke of Cambridge has been vocal in his support for the emergency services throughout the pandemic (pictured, visiting the Ambulance Station in King’s Lynn, England in June)
The Queen, Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall share touching snaps celebrating first responders on Emergency Services Day
Members of the royal family have praised the emergency services in a series of posts uploaded to their official Instagram accounts today.
To mark Emergency Services Day, the Queen, 94, Prince Charles, 71, and the Duchess of Cornwall, 73, have all shared a selection of touching photographs alongside heartwarming captions to celebrate first responders.
Sharing snaps of Prince Charles and Camilla meeting first responders on Instagram, the Clarence House account posted: ‘On #EmergencyServicesDay, we celebrate and show our support for those who work in the NHS and emergency services.
Members of the royal family have praised the emergency services in a series of posts uploaded to their official Instagram accounts today (pictured, Prince Charles meeting with first responders)
‘Thank you for your tireless work this year and for everything you continue to do to keep us safe and sound.’
Meanwhile the Queen’s Royal Family account shared a reading of The Omnipresent’ poem by Simon Armitage, writing: ‘The poem forms part of Southbank Centres’s ‘Everyday Heroes’ exhibition which celebrates the contributions of key workers and frontline staff during the Covid-19 pandemic.
‘The free, outdoor exhibition is on until 7 November.’
Meanwhile the Queen’s Instagram account shared the poem The Omnipresent by Simon Armitage
The Royal Family Instagram account invited followers to visit the Southbank Centre’s Everyday Heroes exhibition
‘Their courage and self-dedication to their work is something this country is rightly proud of.
‘This year more than ever, we’ve been repeatedly reminded of the sacrifices made by all those in the emergency community as they worked tirelessly to protect us against covid-19 and keep the country going in the most challenging circumstances.
Prince William, who worked full-time as a pilot for the East Anglian Air Ambulance service from 2014 until 2017, drew from his personal experience in his speech.
‘Having had the privilege of working alongside the emergency responders, I’ve always been struck by their remarkable can-do attitude in the face of even the greatest emergencies,’ he said.
‘They showcase the very best that our country has to offer, and this is never more apparent than at times like these.’ He moved on to honour the memories of responders who have died in the line of duty.
Prince William talking to paramedic staff from the East of England Ambulance Service Trust at the Ambulance Station in King;s Lynn in June
Prince William in 2015 during his stint as a pilot of the East Anglian Air Ambulance services from 2014 to 2017
‘Tragically, some will pay the ultimate price as a result of their efforts in their line of duty,’ he said, adding: ‘While others will experience the lasting effects on their physical health or mental well-being.’
Prince William then called for more support of the emergency services across the country.
The father-of-three was joined by the First Ministers of Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, and the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care.
The programme included singing from the Blue Light Choir. Videos from the Chairs of the Police, Fire and Ambulance Councils and Director of Her Majesty’s Coastguard were also shared during the event.
The multi-faith event also included a wreath laying ceremony to remember to the more than 7,500 emergency services personnel who had lost their lives in the line of duty, including 300 who have died after contracting coronavirus.