"I'm particularly worried about how the young people are going to cope longterm," Prince William said

By Simon Perry
May 22, 2020 10:24 AM
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Prince William makes a video call to care givers
| Credit: Kensington Palace

Prince William opened up about his concern over the longterm effects the lockdown may have on children in a recent video call to caregivers in Northern Ireland.

During his discussion with a group of professionals from the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust, which delivers care to around 340,000 people, the royal dad of three, 37, said, “I’m particularly worried as to how the young people are going to cope longterm because we’re all muddling through this period at the moment and helping each other. But the longterm implications — of school being missed, anxiety levels, family members sadly dying and the sort of general economic outlook."

Consultant psychiatrist Frances Doherty, who runs an inpatient mental health unit for teenagers, replied: “Interestingly in our service in the short-term, some of our referral rates have gone down, but I would imagine that as we’re starting to come out of lockdown and people are starting to get back into the world again, [we’re] starting to realize just what we’ve been through and we’ll start to see our referral rate increase and the impact on our services.”

Prince William
| Credit: Kensington Palace

Social worker Eimear Hanna, who supervises nine out of 10 children’s homes in Belfast, told the prince that her staff bought big teddy bears for the children to hug since they can't hug those caring for them. The staff members stand beside the bears so the children can hug a bear by proxy.

William, who is isolating in his country home in Norfolk alongside wife Kate Middleton and children,  Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis, laughed, saying, “Everyone needs a hug, it’s very important, Eimear.”

Prince William, Kate Middleton, Prince Louis, Prince George and Princess Charlotte
| Credit: BBC

When child psychiatrist Dr. Clare McKenna said, “The children I work with don’t understand social distancing,” William gave a knowing smile and replied, “That’s all children, isn’t it? I don’t think any children understand social distancing!”

McKenna said some of her staff had come up with innovative ways to put the vulnerable children in their care at ease while they were all wearing masks, gowns and PPE visors.

The staff took pictures of themselves giving big smiles and printed out the photos and stuck them onto their masks.

William praised the caregivers for what they were doing during the coronavirus pandemic. “I know it’s unprecedented and it’s scary and it’s daunting, but you’re all making a huge difference, so please pass on to all your team how grateful everyone is and how appreciative everyone is at what they’re doing at the moment,” he said.

Prince William
| Credit: Kensington Palace

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On a separate video call, William also spoke to six social care workers from across the U.K. to hear how they were managing.