The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge filmed a special message to Australian first responders on Tuesday to mark the inaugural Thank a First Responder Day.
“Earlier this year, we witnessed thousands of firefighters, supported by the wider first responder community, as they worked tirelessly, risking their own lives, to protect Australian communities from the devastating wildfires,” William says in the video, which was filmed at Anmer Hall in Norfolk.
“The world was watching your efforts, and we were deeply moved by what we saw.”
Kate continues: “Sadly, you are now on the frontline of yet another emergency. The COVID-19 outbreak has brought first responders across Australia together again. Day in, day out, paramedics, police, firefighters and support staff work tirelessly to keep everybody safe, often risking not only their physical health, but also their mental wellbeing.”
“We must mention Australia’s volunteer first responders, who choose to put their lives on hold to support communities at times of need,” William says. “And we should not forget these incredible people are supported everyday by their family and friends.”
“Today, on Australia’s inaugural Thank a First Responder Day, you all deserve our huge thanks,” Kate says.
William ends the video with this message: “Time and time again when Australia has needed protecting, you have answered that call. You should be immensely proud of everything you do, and we send our very best wishes to you all, and to your families.”
The 2019-20 bushfire season in Australia was particularly devastating, with an estimated 18.6 million hectares destroyed by fire. At least 5,900 buildings were destroyed and an estimated one billion animals may have perished in the fires, leading some to total extinction; and 39 people have died as a result of the fires as well.
William and Kate had been rumoured to make an official visit to the country to tour the areas most affected by the bushfires, but no invitation had been issued before the COVID-19 pandemic halted international travel.