Prince William met firefighters from the first station at the scene of 9/11 – and encouraged them to talk about their mental health so problems don’t “pile up”, a theme his ex-brother, the Prince Harry, spoke out.
William, 41, visited the FDNY’s Ten House on Liberty Street in downtown Manhattan on Tuesday afternoon and warned there was a “stigma” to getting counseling while he was same first responder.
The heir to the British throne has served in the East Anglian Air Ambulance and as an RAF search and rescue pilot and is pa*sionate about supporting the mental health and wellbeing of emergency services.
Ten House lost six firefighters in 9/11, and Drew Kane of the FDNY’s counseling unit told Page Six, “It was obvious he understood the subject – you could just tell he knew what he spoke with direct experience. »
Arriving in front of the crowd, William was greeted by Fire Commissioner Laura Kavanagh, FDNY Manhattan Borough Commander Michael Ajello and Lt. Kane.
While at the station he asked the team: “What do you think about mental health, is it something you talk about?” Is there still a stigma?
The royal then said it was important that they talk about these issues so that problems don’t “pile up.”
Before he and Prince Harry split, they ran a joint campaign called HeadsUp to improve mental health awareness. William told his brother to seek advice after serving in Afghanistan, Harry revealed in his tell-all memoir, “Spare.”
But since Harry left royal duties in 2020 and moved to California with his wife Meghan Markle, the rift between the two has deepened, with the memoir making it seemingly insoluble.
William’s trip to New York had already drawn comparisons to Harry’s when the older brother recounted on Tuesday how he ran around Central Park unnoticed – a stark contrast to Harry’s claim that a pursuit of High-speed paparazzi lasted for hours on the streets of Manhattan. in April.
As part of William’s visit, he was taken to the FDNY’s 9/11 Memorial Wall, commemorating all the firefighters who lost their lives in the terrorist attack.
He also learned that Ten House was almost destroyed in the terrorist attack. As a result, the fire station has its own 9/11 memorial, which the prince was also invited to visit.
He also inspected some of their equipment and a collection of hundreds of badges on the walls, which come from other fire stations and agencies in different states and are collected during trips.
“It’s like a trade, everyone gets them,” said a retired FDNY firefighter.
While inspecting the firefighters’ kits, he asked them what their response times were and how they prepared everything.
Speaking at a panel discussion on how first responders deal with mental health issues, William said: “One thing we found really helpful was a text service, so whenever you feel the urge need, you can text someone. »
She was told that the trauma following 9/11 helped end the stigma around firefighters seeking mental health support.
Drew Kane, deputy director of the NYFD’s advisory service, led the discussion and told William that firefighters had started coming forward on their own to ask for help.
“From when I started in 1993 to today, it’s been an incredibly different atmosphere.”
William asked: “What do you think was the turning point when it became more normal for guys to talk about it? »
Kane told him that “the stigma was reduced by the monumental event of 9/11,” adding that it was “so overwhelming that we didn’t know how to deal with it.” Firefighters gave the prince gifts for his children, Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis, including rubber fire trucks and FDNY t-shirts.
Speaking after William’s visit, Kane said the prince had been “very interested” to hear about the team’s mental health.
He said: “He was very concerned and interested in mental health and our approach after 9/11 – how it was then and how it is now.
“We really took a peer-to-peer approach…The FDNY was the first in the country to do it.”
“It was obvious he understood the subject, you could tell in his presence that he knew what he was talking about from first-hand experience,” the officer said.
After William left the Ten House Fire Station, he walked toward the hundreds of people who had gathered to see him before being taken to Newark Airport.