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Prince William's moving words for forces families ahead of return to work

'There is no time limit to processing grief'


William and Kate at the NHS birthday celebrations in 2020
Danielle Stacey
Online Royal CorrespondentLondon
17 April 2024
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The Prince of Wales has expressed his support for families bereaved by suicide in the Armed Forces community, telling them: "Please know that you are not alone".

Prince William, 41, has written a touching foreword for a series of guides for military veterans and their loved ones published by Suicide Bereavement UK on Wednesday.

The father-of-three spoke of how he and the Princess of Wales had met many bereaved families over the years and understood the "power that comes from sharing experiences".

He said it was "essential that the voices of those bereaved by suicide are heard".

William added: "There is no time limit to processing grief, but Catherine and I have met many bereaved families over the years and know the power that comes from sharing experiences, even in the most tragic of circumstances."

William, who served in the Army with the Blues and Royals and as an RAF search and rescue pilot, described how the loss of the loved one to suicide can be a complex and long-term experience.

He said he hoped the guides would act as a vital source of guidance and help to those who are processing loss "during what can be dark days of grief".

Flying Officer William Wales, Prince William, walks to an aircraft for his training flight at RAF Cranwell on January 17, 2008 in Lincolnshire, England.© Getty
Prince William served as a RAF search and rescue pilot

"At times of national and international crisis we look to our Armed Forces to provide help, support and stability,” he said. "Members of our Armed Forces never shy away from a challenge – harnessing their skills and working together to help others. But in times of great challenge, it can be tempting to hide one's own needs."

The Prince added: “Few of us will go through our lives without experiencing the loss of someone we love. Thankfully, suicide is rare within the Armed Forces community, but for those bereaved by suicide, this loss can be a complex and long-term experience. Often the stigma surrounding suicide can prevent those affected from speaking out and seeking help."

The free At Your Side guides, produced by Suicide Bereavement UK and commissioned by NHS England, have been written to support veterans, families and serving personnel, and were co-produced with bereaved individuals.

It comes ahead of the Prince's return to his royal duties after spending the Easter holidays with his wife, Kate, who revealed that she is undergoing preventative chemotherapy for an undisclosed form of cancer on 22 March.

Prince William, Prince of Wales and Prince George of Wales look on alongside Tyrone Mings of Aston Villa during the UEFA Europa Conference League 2023/24 Quarter-final © Getty
William and George watched Villa's match against Lille OSC at Villa Park on 11 April

On Thursday, the heir to the throne will visit Surplus to Supper, a surplus food redistribution charity, in Sunbury-on-Thames, and then a youth centre in west London which benefits from the organisation's regular deliveries.

William was last seen publicly at an Aston Villa football match with his eldest child, Prince George, ten.

For mental health support, contact the Samaritans on 116 123, email them at jo@samaritans.org or visit samaritans.org to find your nearest branch.

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