To mark this year’s World Mental Health Day on 10th October, The Prince and Princess of Wales were seen carrying out engagements across England, both separately and together.
From the Heads Together campaign launched with The Duke of Sussex, to frontline workers and the stresses they face, to Shaping Us (the Princess’ solo campaign in which she wants to raise awareness around the importance of childhood development for mental wellbeing), it is a core area for the couple to raise awareness of the importance of mental health, as well as reducing the stigma attached to illness.
Tuesday 10th November
On Tuesday, the Prince and Princess visited Birmingham, where they and The Royal Foundation hosted a forum for young people: Exploring our Emotional Worlds.
The forum was delivered in partnership with The Mix charity and featured presenters from BBC Radio 1, 1Xtra and Asian Network. The event brought together 100 young delegates to start a conversation about how they manage their emotions. Topics included how they can be supported to build their resilience, and protective factors such as healthy relationships, which make it easier to navigate bumps in the road as they go through life.
Prince William joined a panel discussion alongside Love Island star and TV doctor, Dr Alex George, and mental health volunteers Michael Lister and Fatima Diallo.
The Prince said he and Catherine feel that they have ‘made some progress in that we are in this room talking about mental health, and we are chipping away at that stigma but there is a lot more to do’.
‘I think concrete action some sort of tangibility to come forwards is the idea of where we’d like to see the space go next,’ he added. ‘So really today, particularly for me up here, is to hear from all you guys in the room, is about what is it that bothers you that affects your mental health, what do you want to see changed.’
— The Prince and Princess of Wales (@KensingtonRoyal) October 10, 2023
In a speech given at the event, The Princess of Wales said that she and her husband ‘continue to be inspired to see young people, like you all here today, leading this charge – being particularly brave in having some of those conversations yourselves. As a generation, you value and talk more about your mental health than ever before. This is a major step forward’.
Catherine added that everyone is ‘working to build a happier, healthier world. We want to share fairer, safer, kinder, more equal societies – societies that seek the common good and a better future together’.
During the visit, William and Catherine were interviewed by Jordan North and Vick Hope for BBC Radio 1’s Going Home Show.
William noted that he’s listened to the station for a number of years and seen presenters come and go, to which he jokingly added that he ‘can definitely say with great purpose that Greg James is an average DJ and Jordan and Vick are the future.’
The couple also shared what their most frequent emojis are. William asked if the segment was ‘a clean thing or is this a family one’ and added that he was ‘told not to say the aubergine, so I’ve got to pick something else. It would’ve been the aubergine’. He then revealed ‘it’s the one with the eyes that go up and down and the mouths out’.
This one, we think?! 🤪
What are William and Kate's most used emojis? 👀 pic.twitter.com/35opSwH1Eb
— BBC Radio 1 (@BBCR1) October 12, 2023
Kate revealed her’s was ‘probably got to be the heart with then the crying emoji. The sort of like hysterical laughing when things have gone wrong’.
Wednesday 11th November 2023
On Wednesday, William and Catherine carried out engagements separately, both shining a focus on areas of mental health that mean something to them.
Firstly, The Prince of Wales visited the Blue Light Hub in Milton Keynes, which is the operational base of South-Central Ambulance Service, Thames Valley Police and Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service. Prince William spoke to a group of young first responders, including blue light mental health champions and volunteers, who have recently joined the emergency and search and rescue services.
Alongside, broadcaster and NHS psychologist Sian Williams, William heard first-hand about the challenges emergency responders face, focussing on mental health crisis prevention, resilience, and coping strategies.
As a former air ambulance pilot, the Royal has been open in discussing the mental health of frontline works and what his mental health journey was like as an East Anglian Air Ambulance Pilot. Speaking on Apple’s Time to Walk podcast in 2021, The Prince of Wales noted how speaking about dealing with traumatic moments during the job ‘definitely helped, sharing them with the team, and ultimately, in one case, meeting the family and the patient involved who made a recovery, albeit not a full recovery, but made a recovery’.
Meanwhile, the Princess visited was at Nottingham to learn about the support the University of Nottingham and Nottingham Trent University (NTU) give students to support their mental health, particularly at the start of the academic year.
Catherine heard how the two universities work together to help tackle mental health management. She joined a group of students from University of Nottingham to talk about they peer-to-peer mentoring support they have taken part in, and watched students take part in a ‘step in circle’ exercise, designed to build confidence, friendship and belonging.
The future Queen Consort has championed the mental health of children and young people for many years. She is focused on ensuring children have the best start to life as possible and encouraging children and young people to build key protective factors such as healthy relationships and communities around them, which will help them to lay stronger foundations as they move through life.
Thursday 12th November 2023
On the final day of their engagements centred around mental health, The Prince and Princess of Wales attended a mental fitness workshop run by SportsAid at Bisham Abbey National Sports Centre.
The workshop, run in conjunction with charity BelievePerform, supports young sportspeople and their families to manage their mental wellbeing, and to understand how together they can build the skills for happy and healthy experiences in sport and life.
The Prince and Princess took part in a range of fitness drills, including netball, and once again royal watchers saw the competitive nature of the couple. TRHs tried to score hoops for opposing teams.
Prince William was heard to be giving his team positive messages about ‘how you can lose well and win well’ and ‘respect your opponent, respect the decision’.
During the visit, Prince William sat down with parents and discussed supporting their children’s sporting careers. Speaking about his own family, he said ‘I try to talk to them about how you can win well and lose well. I think that’s really important. They need to understand they’re not going to win everything’.
William went on to tell the parents: ‘It’s not just sport, they’re lessons throughout your life – winning, losing, competing… relationships, whatever it might be. For me it all started with sports.’
During the visit, the couple joined a workshop as young sportsmen and women discussed resilience and coping with stressful periods, with one competitor telling Kate how, after initially feeling upset when he suffered an injury during a major championship, he was able to learn from the experience.
The Princess said being able to change ‘mindset’ is a ‘really important skill’, adding: ‘It’s a skill we could teach our youngest kids that would help our children later in life’.
When asked by the workshop leader about being resilient, William said: ‘For me it’s mindset – I have to get myself in a certain zone. When things start going a bit wrong I click into a different gear. I see the end goal and I try and work out a path, like a maze, to get there, and I prioritise.’
Finally, the Royals played in a game of goalball, a visually impaired Paralympic sport, in which players try and score by rolling a ball filled with bells into their opponent’s goal. On this occasion, William failed in his bid to score but Kate won this drill.