The Duke of Cambridge praised the emergency services for "their hard work, your determination and your courage," in a touching video message on behalf of himself and wife Kate. Prince William took part in the digital Emergency Services Festival of Thanksgiving, known as the 999 Festival, on Friday.
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WATCH: Prince William honours emergency services at 999 Festival
Held on the Friday closest to September 9, the multi-faith festival helps commemorate the thousands of emergency responders, who have died in the line of duty. It had been scheduled to be hosted in Belfast Cathedral, but the public event was cancelled amid the coronavirus crisis. Over 300 members of the NHS and emergency services have tragically lost their lives after contracting coronavirus whilst on duty
Speaking from his Norfolk home Anmer Hall, Prince William, 38, said: "This year, more than ever, we have been repeatedly reminded of the sacrifices made by all those in the emergency responder community, as they worked tirelessly to protect us against Covid-19 and keep the country going in the most challenging circumstances."
William worked for East Anglian Air Ambulance for 18 months
The Duke, who worked as a pilot for the East Anglian Air Ambulance between 2015 and 2017, continued: "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 of emergencies. They showcase the very best that our country has to offer, and this is never more apparent than at times like these."
William went on to talk about the impact of their job on frontline workers, saying: "Tragically, some will pay the ultimate price as a result of their efforts in the line of duty, while others will experience lasting effects on their physical health or mental well-being.
"We all have a responsibility to do what we can to support this community and to remember their efforts to keep us safe, as well as the many sacrifices made by both them and their families, which is why today's service is so important."
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Kate and William marked the NHS' 72nd birthday in July
The future King finished his video message by saying: "On behalf of my family, I want to thank you all. Your hard work, your determination and your courage are tremendous source of pride for your country and we will be forever grateful for all that you do."
Tom Scholes-Fogg, Founder and CEO of the 999 Festival, said: “Given events in our country and across the globe we simply could not let this year go by without honouring our 999 heroes.
“We are incredibly honoured that HRH The Duke of Cambridge, the First Ministers and Health Secretary agreed to participate in this special online programme."
William meeting paramedics in King's Lynn in June
The online festival included music from the Blue Light Choir and videos from the chairs of the Police, Fire and Ambulance Councils and the director of Her Majesty’s Coastguard.
First Minister of Northern Ireland Arlene Foster, First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon and First Minister for Wales Mark Drakeford and Health Secretary Matt Hancock also spoke at the service.
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