Prince William joins Royal Navy submariners for rowing challenge in Mental Health Awareness video

21 May 2023, 16:38

The Prince of Wales took on a rowing challenge with Royal Navy submariners in a new Mental Health Awareness video.
The Prince of Wales took on a rowing challenge with Royal Navy submariners in a new Mental Health Awareness video. Picture: Kensington Palace/PA

By Chris Samuel

The Prince of Wales took on a rowing challenge with Royal Navy submariners in a new Mental Health Awareness video.

William, who is Commander-in-Chief of the Submarine Service in addition to his other duties, was at Dorney Lake in Buckinghamshire to meet members of HMS Oardacious.

The campaign was founded in 2019 to raise money to support the mental health of the submarine community through a sponsored challenge to row across the Atlantic.

The Duke of Cambridge was met by the organisation's co-founders Lieutenant Commander Callum Fraser and Lieutenant Commander Hugo Mitchell-Heggs, Chief Petty Officer Jon Norfolk, who was part of its 2022 team, and Lieutenant Isobel Rawlinson, who is aiming to skipper an all-female team next year.

In a six-minute clip uploaded on the Prince and Princess of Wales' YouTube account on Sunday, William also heard about their achievements and the mental and physical struggles they have experienced.

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Asked if he was going to start rowing, the Prince joked: "The likelihood of me slapping someone else's oars is more likely that's going to happen."

Discussing the importance of looking after one's mental health at sea while rowing with the prince, Commander Mitchell-Heggs said: "We focus so much on our physical health, but actually realising that psychological health is the same.

William said that understanding the support networks available to people is "crucial".
William said that understanding the support networks available to people is "crucial". Picture: Kensington Palace/PA

"Everyone gets anxiety to various degrees.

"So if you engage with it and have things in your back pocket to address those things one by one, you know you're in a much better place to achieve your potential."

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The organisation says in its mission statement that the campaign has "always been about more than rowing oceans."

It adds: "We continue to champion and fundraise for the wellbeing, mental health and welfare of all submariners, serving and retired, and their families."

The video was posted on the final day of Mental Health Awareness Week.
The video was posted on the final day of Mental Health Awareness Week. Picture: Kensington Palace/PA

The heir to the throne also stressed it is "crucial" to be aware of the support networks that are available, such as HMS Oardacious, so people get the help they need.

He added: "Understanding our support networks is crucial because a lot of people don't have those support networks and being able to form close bonds and realise that the only way we are going to get through all of this is to support each other and pull each other through."

The Prince also heard from members of HMS Ordacious about how they manage their mental health
The Prince also heard from members of HMS Ordacious about how they manage their mental health. Picture: Kensington Palace/PA

A Kensington Palace spokesperson said: "Together they discuss the importance of managing our mental health and how exercise can be used as a tool to help manage it.

"The crew also share their experiences of crossing the Atlantic, the challenges they faced and the impact it had on both their physical and mental health.

"Back in the boathouse, William hears from the crew in more depth about how they manage their mental health, the support they provide to each other as a team, and the work HMS Oardacious does to raise awareness and combat the stigma associated with talking about mental wellbeing."

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