We're back with a very brief post covering William's appearances today. A number of you have been in touch asking if we'll get an update on how the Duchess is feeling and when we'll see her again. Is there any word on how far along she is? There is no one better placed to address these questions than William himself. During a busy day, which saw him travel to Oxford for a policing conference, the Prince did just that. When asked how Kate is he smiled and said: "We just need Catherine to get over this first bit, then we can start celebrating next week." Reports have suggested this indicated the Duchess is eleven weeks along - hitting the crucial twelve-week stage next week. This would mean it's possible the royal baby could arrive in March.
William added: "It's very good news. It's always a bit anxious to start with, but she's well." He later said: "There's not much sleep going on at the moment."
William has broken silence about the Royal baby. He said "It's always a bit anxious to start with", but the family will celebrate later pic.twitter.com/6GeqvGgAdX— The Telegraph (@Telegraph) September 5, 2017
During the engagement, William gave an absolutely excellent speech on mental health in policing and drew on his own experiences as a pilot with the East Anglian Air Ambulance noting how tragedies "can stay with you for a long time afterwards" and the impact seeing suicides had on him:
"I'd like to start, if I may, by acknowledging the role you play in our society and the considerable pressures you are under. The police service only ever seems to make the news when one of two things happen: either a terrible tragedy or atrocity occurs, and quite rightly the police are praised for their extraordinary bravery and sacrifice. Or at the other end of the spectrum, a decision is held up to account and censor.
Amidst all this, the reality of policing day to day is often overlooked. Your officers face the most difficult and chaotic elements of society every day: broken families; serious injury; terrifying assault; alcohol and drugs abuse; trying to maintain the peaceful and ordered society that most of us take for granted, and to do so whilst maintaining the British concept of policing by consent. It's a really difficult job, and the fact that it goes on every day under our noses without most of us noticing is testament to your skill in doing it. Our whole way of being as a nation owes its peaceful existence to what you do, day in day out; and we are very proud of you.
One of the things that I most enjoy about travelling overseas is observing how different nations do policing. There are some terrific examples, but I can honestly say that I have never encountered a culture of policing as it is in this country – discreet, low-key, with a sense of humour and great common sense. It would probably be diplomatically remiss of me to name countries whose policing is different to this. I would never be permitted to make a speech again if I did! So I won't name anyone … but, as an aside, one of my favourite moments on an overseas trip a few years ago was watching two rival tiers in a police force – one local, one state – vying for supremacy to escort a convoy I was in.
The two motorcycle groups repeatedly bumped into one another at high speed, nudging one another off the road, until one force caved in and relinquished the road in favour of the other. What was very funny was that the visit was semi-private but I think that by the end of my very first journey the whole city knew I was there. Discreet policing it was not!
Policing by consent – in the way that you do it, and for which British police services are so rightly praised around the world – is hard work. Policing is physically and mentally tough. The stresses of uncertain and tense situations take their toll. It is also hugely rewarding and at times enjoyable, and I know many of you talk about a policing family.
You have been talking this morning about the issue of mental health and the impact it has on policing. One in four adults will experience a mental health problem, so it is perhaps not a surprise that an estimated one third of all policing demand is connected to a vulnerable person in mental distress. This has a significant impact on policing time and effort, and it can also have a personal impact on those on the front line dealing with these cases. As a former RAF Search and Rescue and Air Ambulance pilot, I know what this feels like.
Over the past two years I worked with the East Anglian Air Ambulance alongside the police and other emergency services. My team was frequently tasked to help people in extreme distress, and I know I was not alone in being affected by some of the calls I attended. One of my first call outs was to a young man who had taken his own life. Looking at the statistics, I was astounded by how prevalent this was. Suicide is the biggest killer of young men in this country. Not cancer, knife crime, or road deaths – but suicide. This had a big impact on me. I was very fortunate to work with a team where we were encouraged to talk through the things we had seen when we returned to base. There were days when, like you, we would have to watch our colleagues save some lives, and lose others. We saw traumatised parents dealing with the shock of having children involved in catastrophic accidents. There were patients we lost who we fought hard to save. I know that these real life tragedies can stay with you for a long time afterwards – even when we like to pretend they don't.
Being a member of the emergency services takes considerable mental strength and resilience, and I believe there is more that we can and should do to support all first responders to look after their mental health. You are skilled at helping people in extreme distress – so you should be looked after just as much.
Members of the police service are twice as likely to suffer from mental health problems as the general public. The recent Police Federation survey also showed that officers fear disclosing mental health problems due to stigma, the reaction they would receive from supervisors and colleagues, and the possible impact on their careers. Two thirds of respondents had come to work, despite serious concerns about their mental well-being.
This issue is by no means confined to the police force – the fear of stigma and a negative reaction is common in many workplaces. Over the past 18 months, through our Heads Together campaign, Catherine, Harry and I have been working with leading charities to change the conversation about mental health, and I'm really pleased MIND is here today. Don't get me wrong: there is a place for a stiff upper lip, and for a sense of humour to help get through a situation. But there is also a place for openness and mutual support – that has to be part of the mix and, till now, it has not been sufficient. Our aim has been to help tackle the stigma surrounding the issue, and to make it easier for people to get help as soon as they need it, without worrying what others will think of them. We are beginning to see progress, with more people talking about mental health than ever before, but we still have a long way to go.
The National Police Chiefs Council and College of Policing have a real opportunity to lead from the front on this issue. Police Officers are quite rightly respected for their courage and bravery. By creating an atmosphere where colleagues feel comfortable to talk openly and honestly about their issues, you can show that asking for support should be seen as a sign of strength, and not of weakness. There are a number of organisations able to provide immediate support on the phone or online, an in particular, the MIND Blue Light Infoline that offers specialist support for those serving in the emergency services. I am delighted that MIND’s Blue Light programme is represented here today. As you may know, it supports many police services across the country to provide simple and easy access to immediate support.
Building on this work by MIND Blue Light, and the Heads Together campaign, I will be convening representatives of the emergency services to consider ways in which society might better support the work you do. The tragedy at Grenfell, and the conclusion of my work as an Air Ambulance pilot, spurred me to look into doing what I can to support you in a practical way. The reason I think all of this is important is that being a first responder is tough enough as it is. These pressures are not going to go away. Therefore, it is properly essential you are equipped to withstand the realities of 21st century policing. If more openness about mental wellbeing is part of the solution, as I believe it is, then I would like to help you with that. I sincerely hope that the remainder of the day goes very well, and that today marks an important milestone in improving the support that you get and so rightly deserve. Thank you very much indeed for having me to speak."
This afternoon, William and Harry visited the Support4Grenfell Community Hub in Kensington. The Duchess was scheduled to join the princes for the embargoed engagement, but was unable to attend as she's very unwell with Hyperemesis gravidarum. Kensington Palace revealed: "Following the tragic events on 14 June, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry, like others, wanted to support the community. The Royal Foundation, of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry, established Support4Grenfell Community Hub."
Prince William made good on a promise he made in June when he visited Grenfell with the Queen and told locals he would return. The creation of the Community Hub is a milestone for the Royal Foundation - reacting to a crisis in Kensington so quickly by implementing the Hub to provide additional mental health resources for the children, young people and families affected by the Grenfell fire.
More from the press release:
While many survivors of the fire are dealing with serious physical injuries, the emotional impact for many families, children and young people has been very serious as well. The Royal Foundation has worked with local leaders, experts in the field, Heads Together partners, and those already providing support in the local community to help to ensure that any additional response is adequately resourced and coordinated.
The need for a central coordination space for this activity was identified and The Royal Foundation signed the lease for the facility in July. The hub will provide a dedicated space for various agencies and community groups to continue working collaboratively, reach out to other statutory and voluntary organisations, hold meetings and organise counselling and supervision. There is also space for children and families to come in and speak to the organisations represented there if they need a safe space to talk.
William and Harry meet representatives from organisations who are leading the emotional support response at the Hub, including Child Bereavement UK and Winston's Wish. As many of these charities have been working with local partners, schools, and community groups within Kensington for some years, it has allowed them to react quickly to scale up their local support in response to the tragedy, as others have done.
Kate's patronages the Art Room and Place2Be are very much involved in the effort. Below, we see Prince Harry meeting with staff and volunteers from Place2Be.
Next, William and Harry visited Al-Manaar, the Muslim Cultural Heritage Centre, to meet members of the community.
William meeting local residents, many of whom used to live at Grenfell Tower.
More from People:
'Harry and William spoke with Harry the Gomes family — parents Marcio and Andreia, both 38, and their daughters Luana, 12, and Megan, 10 — all of whom escaped the fire from their home on the 21st floor only to lose Andreia’s unborn son Logan, who was delivered stillborn hours after the fire.
“Talk about your loss, promise me,” William told the girls. Later, Marcio told reporters, “The princes were amazing. They really knew what they were talking about. You could see that they meant what they were saying.”
Praising them for setting up the hub, he said, “They have seen so many families impacted by the tragedy, and they know what they are going through. Everyone grieves in different ways. It is important that when someone is in pain that they have someone to talk to — not just next month, but next year or the year after.”
Prince Harry meets Hear Women, a group which runs Cook and Talk sessions to help bring women from all over the community together.
Steven Pretty says he can't forget the burning images and has thought about taking his own life since the fire. Steven bravely sharing his story, demonstrated the need for mental health support in the area.
Grenfell: Steven Pretty says he can't forget the burning images and has thought about taking his own life - he lives just 40 yards away. pic.twitter.com/fQPPmgqfCF— 5News (@5_News) September 5, 2017
I thought this photo of William meeting a little boy whose family lived in the tower quite heartbreaking. Residents of the Tower and their families have been through such a horrific ordeal. I'm so enormously pleased the Royal Foundation is offering mental health support and they are not being forgotten.
Another touching image of Harry meeting a little girl whose family have been affected. You can read more about Support4Grenfell here.
It sounds like Kate is going through a pretty rotten time at the moment. I know we all send her our best wishes, and hope she feels better soon. As discussed yesterday, Prince George starts school on Thursday morning. If it is at all possible, I think Kate will be there.
In other news, a French court has ordered Closer magazine to pay £92,000 in damages and a further £90,000 in fines for publishing topless photos of the Duchess while on holiday in Provence in 2012. The Telegraph reports:
'The civil damages were far lower than the €1.5 million that the Duke and Duchess had asked for but their lawyer, Jean Veil, said that they were "twice as high as normal in such a case". In the criminal case, Laurence Pieau, the editor of Closer in France and Ernesto Mauri, chief executive of the Mondadori group which owns the magazine, were both handed the maximum fines of €45,000 for invasion of privacy.'
On the verdict, Kensington Palace released the following statement:
'The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are pleased that the court has found in their favour and the matter is now closed. This incident was a serious breach of privacy and Their Royal Highnesses felt it essential to pursue all legal remedies. They wished to make the point strongly that this kind of unjustified intrusion should not happen.'
I'm sure the Duke and Duchess are pleased this matter is now closed; hopefully the verdict will prevent such an invasion of privacy occurring again.
Finally, the other big news story in the royal world today, is news Meghan Markle has given an interview to Vanity Fair revealing: "We're two people who are really happy and in love." If interested, the topic, interview and photoshoot are covered over on our Mad About Meghan blog.
We'll see you on Thursday!