Prince William is completing his final shift as an air ambulance pilot and as he gets ready to take on more extensive royal duties, he’s looking back at his time serving his country.
“As a team, we travel to some very daunting incidents and we have been though some incredibly tough times together, witnessing some appalling tragedies,” he wrote in an editorial for the Eastern Daily Press on Thursday, according to People magazine. “One of the first call outs I made was to a young man who had committed suicide; it was an incredibly tough day and had a profound effect on all of us, not least in my determination now to draw attention to this issue.”
The heir to the British throne is working the night shift Thursday at the East Anglian Air Ambulance, where he has been flying medical crews to emergencies such as traffic accidents for about two years.
He wrote, “As I arrive for work at East Anglian Air Ambulance this evening, my last shift with this incredible team, I wanted to say thank you to my colleagues, team mates and the people of East Anglia who I have been so proud to serve. Over the past two years I have met people from across the region who were in the most desperate of circumstances. As part of the 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.”
He also praised the emergency responders he has worked with during his time as an air ambulance pilot.
“I have watched as incredibly skilled doctors and paramedics have saved people’s lives. 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.”
As the older generation of royals slows down, the younger members of the family are stepping in to do take on more official roles, such as foreign visits.
William and his wife, the former Kate Middleton, will also be spending more time in London, where their son, George, is due to start school.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.