The Duke of Cambridge has described how “there are things that cannot be unseen” as he carries out his final shift as an air ambulance pilot.
Paying a personal tribute to the nation’s emergency services, Prince William spoke of his “profound respect” for its men and women who deal with experiences “on a daily basis that they will carry with them for life”.
The Duke joined the East Anglian Air Ambulance service in March 2015, after serving for nearly five years as a helicopter pilot with the RAF’s Search and Rescue Force, and began piloting his first operational missions in July that year.
Since then he has responded to dozens of call-outs alongside his colleagues, attending road accidents, rescues and suicide attempts and landing his helicopter in residential gardens, car parks, beaches and roadsides across the region.
His life as a full-time working royal will begin after his final shift ends at about midnight, with the expectation the future king will carry out more royal duties in support of the Queen and his own charity work and causes.
Writing in the East Anglian Daily Times, the Duke said he had “been so proud to serve” with his crew mates and was “grateful to my colleagues for accepting me so readily”.
He said: “As part of the team, I have been invited into people’s homes to share moments of extreme emotion, from relief that we have given someone a fighting chance, to profound grief.
“I have watched as incredibly skilled doctors and paramedics have saved people’s lives. These experiences have instilled in me a profound respect for the men and women who serve in our emergency services…”
The Duke added: “From the moment I joined, when that phone rang at the base for the first time, it was clear that I was a fellow professional, a pilot with a job to do – in such a team there can be no other option, but still I am grateful to my colleagues for accepting me so…