The Duke of Cambridge attended an online thanksgiving service for first responders and said his family thanked them for "all their hard work"

By Simon Perry
September 04, 2020 09:41 AM
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Prince William addressing the online thanksgiving service
Kensington Palace

Prince William is paying tribute to emergency responders for the “sacrifices” they have made during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

"On behalf of my family, I want to thank you all for your hard work, your determination and your courage – you are a tremendous source of pride for our country and we’ll be forever grateful for all that you do," William said on Friday.

The former air ambulance pilot, 38, spoke at a special online festival of thanksgiving for first responders. It had been scheduled to take place in Belfast, Northern Ireland, but was switched to social media because of the pandemic.

“Having had the privilege of working alongside emergency responders, I’ve always been struck by the remarkable can-do attitude in the face of even the gravest emergencies. They showcase the very best our country has to offer," he added.

Prince William
Tim Merry/AP/Shutterstock

As it was revealed that more than 300 members of the National Health Service and emergency responders have lost their lives after contracting coronavirus whilst on duty, he added, “Tragically, some will pay the ultimate price as a result of their efforts in the line of duty. While others will experience lasting effects to their physical health or mental wellbeing."

"We all have a responsibility to do what we can to support the community and remember their efforts to keep us safe.”

The 999 Festival, which is multi-faith and rotates across the U.K., includes a wreath-laying ceremony to remember the more than 7,500 emergency services personnel who have lost their lives during duty.

Prince William
Kensington Palace

It is the latest move by the prince to pay respect to his former colleagues in the emergency services. Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, he has undertaken visits and made video calls to those in the various emergency teams.

He and wife Kate Middleton’s Royal Foundation is also supporting a key helpline for frontline workers.

William went on to say that everyone will rely on frontline workers at some point in their lives.

“This year, more than ever, we have been repeatedly reminded of the sacrifices made by all those in the emergency responding community as they work tirelessly to protect us against COVID-19 and keep the country going in the most challenging circumstances," he said.

Kate Middleton and Prince William during their volunteer week calls
Kensington Palace

The Emergency Services Festival of Thanksgiving (999 Festival) brought together senior politicians, emergency services and the public to show their united appreciation to those who work in the NHS and emergency services. It included a performance from the Blue Light Choir and videos from the Chairs of the Police, Fire and Ambulance Councils and the head of the Coastguard.

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During the program, the First Minister of Northern Ireland, Arlene Foster MLA, said, "Every second of every day, our emergency services are there for each of us. From the person who takes the call to the first responders on the scene, these are highly skilled professionals who ago above and beyond to save lives and protect us from harm.”

First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon MSP, added,  “We’ve been reminded in recent months of the extraordinary contribution of the emergency services as they have been at the forefront of our response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s not just at these times of crisis that we depend on our emergency services, each and every day they help to ensure our safety and provide urgent care, support and treatment to those who need it."

And the First Minister of Wales, Mark Drakeford MS, added, “At the start of this year, our emergency services were responding to unprecedented flooding, as storm Ciara and Dennis brought widespread destruction to so many parts of Wales. Then in March, in the grip of a pandemic, the majority of Wales came to a full stop, and whilst most could only play their part by staying at home, our emergency services continued their long and proud tradition of reacting and working swiftly, effectively and above all selflessly in times of crisis.”