The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have spoken of the stresses on frontline NHS workers who have to absorb the “pain, fear and loneliness” of critically ill Covid-19 patients, while putting their own lives and health on the line.
The couple also acknowledged the lockdown was “stressful” for many, and that there was an “ever-increasing need” for people to know how to access help and support for their mental wellbeing.
In a video interview with the BBC, Prince William said he was “quite concerned” when his father, Prince Charles, was diagnosed with the virus, because, at 71, he was at an age “which is fairly risky”.
The couple, who are in lockdown at their Norfolk home, have been speaking to frontline health workers via video link over the last three weeks. The duchess said the “extraordinary job” they were doing had “really come to the forefront in the last few weeks”.
“It’s going to dramatically change how we all value and see our frontline workers. That is one of the main positives you can take from this,” she said.
“They do an extraordinary job. It goes unrecognised daily and now I think all of us as a nation can really see how hard they work and how vital their work is.”
William stressed the importance of maintaining good mental health during the pandemic, saying that “staying connected, staying positive and being able to talk to friends and family is so crucial”.
He said of NHS staff looking after critically ill Covid-19 patients: “I think they take away that pain, and sometimes that fear and loneliness that these patients have to go through. They’re the ones who absorb that and take it home to their families.
“The daily attrition rate of that happening to somebody is not normal and we’re not superhuman, any of us, so to be able to manage those emotions and that feeling is going to take some time after all this is over as well.”
He said the royal family were doing everything to protect his grandparents, the Queen, 94 next week, and Duke of Edinburgh, 98, but he was worried about the many vulnerable people and high-risk people “who are going to potentially have to isolate away for quite some time, and the impact it’s going to have on them and families up and down the country”.
Kate said their children, George, Charlotte and Louis, had been having fun pitching tents, baking and cooking.
The duke and duchess have voiced a film for Public Health England’s Every Mind Matters project, which will be broadcast on Monday.