The Duke of Cambridge today claimed today’s mental health epidemic directly stems from his grandmother’s generation and the stiff upper lip mentality maintained during World War II.
William, 37, claimed that today’s generation learned to bottle up problems from their parents and grandparents who lived through World War II.
His own grandmother, the Queen, was a driver and mechanic with the Women’s Auxiliary Territorial Service while Prince Philip was a first lieutenant in the Royal Navy.
And King George VI and the Queen Mother famously posed for photographs in the rubble of Buckingham Palace following a Luftwaffe attack on the royal family in September 1940, encapsulating the Blitz spirit.
Speaking in Davos today, William said: ‘I take it as far back as the war. It was very very difficult for everybody, losing so many loved ones and dealing with such horrendous circumstances that no matter how much you can talk you were never going to fix the issue.’
The Duke of Cambridge says that Brits struggle with speaking about their mental health due to the stiff-upper lip attitude they inherited from generation who lived through the war
Princess Elizabeth training as an ATS mechanic at a training centre in southern England, April 1945, while she was a Second Subaltern of the ATS (Auxiliary Territorial Service)
Blitz spirit: King George VI and the Queen Mother famously posed for photographs in the rubble of Buckingham Palace following a Luftwaffe attack on the royal family in 1940
He added: ‘Completely by accident they passed that on to the next generation, we all learn from our parents we all learn from how they deal with things.
‘So this whole generation inherited that this is how we deal with problems we don’t talk about them.
‘I think that now there’s a generation here that’s realising this is not normal and we should talk about them. We should get over it.’
The prince went on to speak of his own experiences while working in the air ambulance, before he quit back in 2017.
He explained: ‘I was dealing with a lot of trauma on a day in, day out basis, stuff that your body is not programmed to deal with.
‘I might have gone into my shell a bit and thought ‘I can deal with this myself’ and then potentially down the line it manifests itself in a much worse situation.
‘As a team you draw it out and you debrief about it, and I know that if I hadn’t taken the action that I did then I would have gone down a slippery slope and I would have been dealing with mental illness on a different level.
The second in line to the throne acknowledged the fact that there are still negative connotations surrounding mental health.
The royal family’s war
A 16-year-old Princess Elizabeth registering for war service under the Ministry of Labour’s Youth Registration Scheme
She may be head of Britain’s armed forces in little more than name, but her role in the military has not always been purely ceremonial.
Princess Elizabeth’s adolescence took place in the shadow of World War II and, with the country in crisis, she did not shy away from her royal duties.
Her first solo public appearance came at the age of 16, with a visit to the Grenadier Guards. By then she had already been named Colonel-in-Chief of the regiment – effectively the link between the infantrymen and the Royal Family.
And by 18, changes to the law meant she could act as a Counsellor of State, meaning she would be one of five royals holding the fort in the event of her father going abroad or becoming incapacitated.
Shortly after that, in February 1945, she signed up with the Women’s Auxiliary Territorial Service and was given the service number 230873.
She joined as an honorary Second Subaltern but must have impressed in her duties as a driver and mechanic, as she rose to the rank of honorary Junior Commander within five months.
The Duke of Edinburgh
Prince Philip was a first lieutenant in the Royal Navy and joined the battleship HMS Ramillies in 1940 in Colombo as a midshipman and spent six months in the Indian Ocean.
He joined the HMS Valiant in Alexandria in January 1941 and two months later he was mentioned in despatches for his actions during the Battle of Matapan after spotting an unexpected enemy vessel with the search lights. He was later awarded the Greek War Cross of Valour.
In 1943, he foiled a Luftwaffe bomber that almost destroyed his ship during the Allied invasion of Sicily in 1943.
He came up with a plan to throw a wooden raft with smoke floats overboard, to fool bombers into attacking the float rather than the ship.
King George VI and the Queen Mother survey the aftermath of a German bombing raid on 11 September 1940 which destroyed Buckingham Palace chapel. After the event the Queen famously said: ‘I’m glad we have been bombed. Now I can look the East End in the face’
The Queen Mother and King George VI inspecting air-raid damage in central London during the Blitz, 23rd September 1940. Buckingham Palace was also bombed on several occasions
King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (later the Queen Mother) inspect the damage to a cinema building in Baker Street after it was destroyed by Nazi bombing in an air raid over the capital
The Queen Mother talking to a young evacuee whilst he works in the garden of an evacuation school at Horsted Keynes in Sussex in November 1939. The royal family were personally targeted by bomb raids on several occasions throughout the war
Princess Elizabeth (now Queen Elizabeth II), King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (later the Queen Mother) with Lieutenant General James Doolittle the 8th Air Force Commander after the official naming of a Flying Fortress ‘Rose of York’ at an aerodrome in July 1944
When he, his brother Prince Harry and his wife Kate set up their charity Heads Together back in 2016, William claims they struggled to find support because of the stigma surrounding mental health.
He added: When we set up the campaign not one celebrity wanted to join us, not one person wanted to help with the campaign because it was mental health
The Duke of Cambridge ended by saying he’s going to ‘use sport as a vehicle to smash mental health’ and work with male suicide more ‘because it’s one of the biggest killers of young men in the UK’.
He said: ‘Real progress is being made and we all need to keep the momentum going.’
Prince William joined New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at the Mental Health Matters meeting at the World Economic Forum in Davos earlier today
On Tuesday William was joined by Sir David Attenborough in Davos where the royal interviewed the broadcaster about his work as an environmentalist
William said today that when he Kate and Harry set up Heads Together in 2016 they struggled to find celebrities to be involved because of the stigma surrounding the condition
Wednesday was the prince’s final day in Davos, having touched down yesterday in order to interview veteran broadcaster Sir David Attenborough.
The Duke of Cambridge has described the Blue Planet and Dynasties narrator as having ‘the single most important impact in my conservation thinking’.
William today asked Sir David about his decades of work – and his message for the leaders watching them on stage.
Sir David, 92, warned of a climate ‘crisis’ and said: ‘Care for the Natural World – not only that – treat it with respect and reverence. We can wreck it all without even noticing and in the end we will wreck ourselves’.
William hailed the impact of Sir David’s programmes and said they had been ‘seen be literally billions of people world-wide’ and trailed his new show Our Planet, released on Netflix in April.