Watch as Prince William talks about the stresses of the job, and jokes with colleagues about passing on parenting tips

By Simon Perry
September 20, 2016 08:15 AM
Prince William opened up on his life as an air ambulance pilot in a new BBC special
Olivia Howitt/BBC Future

Prince William has revealed how he copes with the “sad, dark” moments he faces as a pilot with the air ambulance service.

William says talking about what the crews have witnessed – and sharing what he and fellow pilots call “banter” – helps him “de-stress.”

“If you share the same, in some cases, sad incidents, then if you can get over it together by being able to talk about it in the future. Being a close team you come away with a collective way of dealing with it together and it helps you move on to whatever you’ve got to do next,” he says in a special film made by to mark National Air Ambulance Week in the U.K.

“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,” he adds.

Prince William flies a helicopter made by Airbus
Olivia Howitt/BBC Future

Some of the stressful events include witnessing young men attempting suicide, a problem that has helped spur him to bring awareness to the issue of young men’s mental health.

The online clip, “Inside the Trauma Team Where Prince William Is a Pilot,” shows the prince (known as William Wales by his colleagues) sitting in a helicopter and teasing Captain James Pusey. And it’s clear the pair of pilots have bonded over an inside joke.

“Within literally an hour of being with me, it’s fairly obvious you can go quite far with me and I can take most things and I’m happy to give most things. When I first got here, it was very polite. It’s now got a lot worse as they’ve got to know me and their inhibitions have gone. I’ve got worse nicknames, as I’ve gone up the ladder,” says William, who East Anglian Air Ambulance (EAAA) in the spring of 2015.

The prince flies an Airbus Helicopters H145
Olivia Howitt/BBC Future

The pilots and medical team are close, he says. “The ethos and outlook we all have is very, very similar and so it takes no time at all to gel unless you’ve got someone like James [Pusey] who’s very difficult to get on with. We try our best, we carry him an awful lot!”

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Pusey retorts with a chuckle: “I’ve got no comeback to that.”

“Has that stumped you?” William asks.

The second in line to the British throne talked about bonding with his fellow air ambulance crew members
Olivia Howitt/BBC Future

“I was going to say that I was quite relaxed when you turned up because someone had less hair than I did,” his colleague replies.

“Touché,” adds William with a laugh.

William says he relishes being “one of the team,” and speaks about how it is different from his “other job” – being a prince!

“I look forward 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 but I very much enjoy working with the likes of James and the team and it’s good fun.”

“That’s the nicest thing you’ve ever said to me,” Pusey jokes in the film.

“You’re only going to get that once,” the prince responds.

“He’s very good with advice as well, on parenthood,” Pusey shares. “He has some good tips.”

With that, dad-of-two William says with a smile, “Dishing out some parent advice.”