Prince William has spoken of his pride as he prepares for his last shift as an air ambulance pilot on Thursday. The 35-year-old royal 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 since then has carried out numerous call-outs, attending roadside accidents, rescues and suicide attempts. In an open letter in the Eastern Daily Press, William paid an heartfelt tribute to his colleagues at the East Anglian Air Ambulance service, and spoke of his "profound respect" for the work that they do.
"Over the past two years I have met people from across the region who were in the most desperate of circumstances," he said. "As part of a 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.
Prince William will complete his final shift as an air ambulance pilot on Thursday night
"These experiences have instilled in me a profound respect for the men and women who serve in our emergency services, which I hope to continue to champion even as I leave the profession. I am hugely grateful for having had this experience." He added: "From the moment I joined, when that phone rang at the base for the first time, it was clear 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 readily."
Patrick Peal, EAAA's chief executive, said William had been "an integral part of the team". "He is not only a fantastic pilot, but a much loved and valued member of the crew," he said. "He will be truly missed by everyone at EAAA. As one would expect, there has been a lot of excitement surrounding William and his work with the charity. To us, he has been another hard-working member of the team; one of 11 highly-respected pilots who help us to save hundreds of lives each year."
The Prince joined the EAAA in March 2015
William and his family are now expected to spend more time at Kensington Palace, rather than at their family home Anmer Hall in Norfolk. The Duke and Duchess Kate will increase their royal duties in support of the Queen, while Prince George is preparing to start school in London this September. Since 2014 the couple have always used their palace home, Apartment 1A, as their official residence when carrying out royal duties, but they have based their young family primarily in their country home, Anmer Hall, in Norfolk. "Their Royal Highnesses love their time in Norfolk and it will continue to be their home," a statement released in January emphasised.