The second week of September is when the UK marks Air Ambulance Week (AAW.) For 2021, the week takes place from 6th to the 12th of September and is a chance for air ambulance charities across the UK to come together to deliver the vital message, “every second counts and every penny matters.” In honour of the 2021 Air Ambulance Week, Royal Central is taking a look at the Duke of Cambridge’s career as an air ambulance pilot.
The Duke of Cambridge joined the EAAA (East Anglian Air Ambulance) in March 2015 after flying rescue helicopters with the Royal Air Force in North Wales for more than three years. In July 2015, the Duke piloted his first operational mission with the EAAA. Throughout his service, William was based out of the Cambridge Airport as part of a team of specialist doctors, critical care paramedics, and pilots who provided emergency medical services across Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Norfolk, and Suffolk.
Although the job gave the Duke a chance to take to the skies as a pilot, he also dealt with some difficult moments during rescue missions. In a BBC special in 2016, the Duke said: “There are some very sad, dark moments, and we talk about it a lot. But it’s hard. You try not to take it away with you, but it can be quite difficult.”
The Duke of Cambridge also spoke on other stressful events, including witnessing a young man attempting suicide, a problem that inspired the Duke to bring awareness to young men’s mental health. He added that he enjoyed being a part of the team, but it was also quite different from his “other job” – being a Prince.
“I look forward to coming here every day, whether it is at 5:30 or going to bed at 2:00 in the morning. The shift work is exciting, and it’s challenging for its variety and the fact that I love working in a team.
“That’s something that my other job doesn’t necessarily do. You are more out there on your own a little bit.”
Upon his retirement from the EAAA, Kensington Palace issued a statement in which William said: “It has been a huge privilege to fly with the East Anglian Air Ambulance. Following on from my time in the military, I have had experiences in this job I will carry with me for the rest of my life, and that will add a valuable perspective to my royal work for decades to come.
“I would like to thank the people of East Anglia for being so supportive of my role and for letting me get on with the job when they have seen me in the community or at our region’s hospitals. I would especially like to thank all of my colleagues at EAAA, Babcock, and Cambridge Airport for their friendship and support. 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.”
The announcement came just months after the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge announced their decision to move their family’s home base from Anmer Hall in Norfolk to London.