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After two years of aiding victims of serious accidents Prince William has finished his final shift as an air ambulance pilot and paid tribute to the ‘incredible team’ of life-savers. 

The heir has been flying medical crews to emergencies such as traffic accidents for about two years.

The announcement closes a chapter for William, 35, who is leaving the skies to return to formal duties as the country’s future king. 

As the older generation of royals slows down, the younger members of the family are taking a greater number of official roles, such as foreign trips and other appearances. 

He told the Eastern Daily Press: ‘As I hang up my flight suit, I am proud to have served with such an incredible team of people, who save lives across the region every day.’

Prince William finishes his final shift working as an air ambulance pilot, and will return to his royal duties

Prince William finishes his final shift working as an air ambulance pilot, and will return to his royal duties

Prince William finishes his final shift working as an air ambulance pilot, and will return to his royal duties

Pictured: The Prince spotted yesterday during his penultimate shift for the EAAA charity

Pictured: The Prince spotted yesterday during his penultimate shift for the EAAA charity

Pictured: The Prince spotted yesterday during his penultimate shift for the EAAA charity

Pictured: Prince William filling the East Anglian Air Ambulance helicopter up with fuel on one of his final days as a pilot

Pictured: Prince William filling the East Anglian Air Ambulance helicopter up with fuel on one of his final days as a pilot

Pictured: Prince William filling the East Anglian Air Ambulance helicopter up with fuel on one of his final days as a pilot

When he announced in January he would be leaving his job with the EAAA, William said: 'I have had experiences in this job I will carry with me for the rest of my life.' Pictured: The Duke of Cambridge preparing the helicopter for handover on Tuesday 

When he announced in January he would be leaving his job with the EAAA, William said: 'I have had experiences in this job I will carry with me for the rest of my life.' Pictured: The Duke of Cambridge preparing the helicopter for handover on Tuesday 

When he announced in January he would be leaving his job with the EAAA, William said: ‘I have had experiences in this job I will carry with me for the rest of my life.’ Pictured: The Duke of Cambridge preparing the helicopter for handover on Tuesday 

The Prince (pictured) was seen as he arrived for one of his final shifts at Cambridge Airport. He later flew to Colchester to help a man in his sixties and took him to Basildon Hospital in Essex for further treatment

The Prince (pictured) was seen as he arrived for one of his final shifts at Cambridge Airport. He later flew to Colchester to help a man in his sixties and took him to Basildon Hospital in Essex for further treatment

The Prince (pictured) was seen as he arrived for one of his final shifts at Cambridge Airport. He later flew to Colchester to help a man in his sixties and took him to Basildon Hospital in Essex for further treatment

William was paid a salary of £40,000 at EAAA but gave it all back to the charity. Pictured: The future king outside the charity's base in Cambridge

William was paid a salary of £40,000 at EAAA but gave it all back to the charity. Pictured: The future king outside the charity's base in Cambridge

William was paid a salary of £40,000 at EAAA but gave it all back to the charity. Pictured: The future king outside the charity’s base in Cambridge

The prince’s move is also about location. William and his wife, the former Kate Middleton, will be spending less time in their Norfolk residence and be carrying out more duties in London, where their 4-year-old son, Prince George, is due to start school.

Despite William’s change in role, he said what he has seen as an ambulance pilot changed his perspective.

‘I have had experiences in this job I will carry with me for the rest of my life, and that will add a valuable perspective to my royal work for decades to come,’ he said in January.

His team assisted people in life-threatening moments such as a heart attack or a car crash. William was glad he could contribute and be part of a team that changed people’s lives.

‘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 said.

William also said his interest in mental health issues partly stemmed from coming into contact with the subject of suicide as an ambulance pilot.

‘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,’ William wrote in Thursday’s statement. That interest recently crystallized as the Heads Together campaign, which encourages people to speak about their problems. 

Pictured: Prince William on his first day working for the East Anglian Air Ambulanc

Pictured: Prince William on his first day working for the East Anglian Air Ambulanc

Pictured: Prince William on his first day working for the East Anglian Air Ambulanc

Working as an air ambulance pilot has had a profound effect on William, appearing to influence him as a person and also his public work as a member of the royal family.

When he announced in January he would be leaving his job with the EAAA, William said: ‘I have had experiences in this job I will carry with me for the rest of my life.’

The duke, who previously served as an RAF search and rescue pilot, said the events he had lived through would ‘add a valuable perspective to my royal work for decades to come’.

Coming into contact with a suicide victim in one of his first call-outs in July 2015 may have partly inspired his interest in mental health.

He told journalists attending the Guild of Health Writers conference in February: ‘I got interested in mental health for another reason. One that was related to my work as an air ambulance pilot. It was suicide, a subject that is so often hidden.’

That interest later developed into the Heads Together mental health campaign successfully run by William, Kate and Prince Harry earlier this year, encouraging the public to speak about their psychological problems.

During his first week William and his crewmates were also called out to Felixstowe in Suffolk to a man in his 50s who had suffered a cardiac arrest. The crew airlifted him to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital for further treatment.

In an online BBC documentary posted last year William spoke about the most difficult emergency he had attended at the time.

He said: ‘I think my most challenging one was to do with burns. There’s one job in particular that was really quite nasty and I don’t know how the medical crew dealt with it either because they came to the rescue and did everything they (could) and sadly the casualty was beyond help.’

During his time in the job – which paid a salary of £40,000, but which William gave back to the charity – the former RAF pilot also flew to an emergency with a military theme.

In March last year he found himself cradling the head of former Royal Marine Jim Schembri.

William had to fly through the rain on his first day of operations at EAAA (pictured) on July 13, 2015

William had to fly through the rain on his first day of operations at EAAA (pictured) on July 13, 2015

William had to fly through the rain on his first day of operations at EAAA (pictured) on July 13, 2015

William (pictured in the rescue helicopter) will now devote more time to his royal duties and will move his primary residence from Norfolk to London 

William (pictured in the rescue helicopter) will now devote more time to his royal duties and will move his primary residence from Norfolk to London 

William (pictured in the rescue helicopter) will now devote more time to his royal duties and will move his primary residence from Norfolk to London 

Pictured: The former RAF search and rescue pilot and second in line to the throne checks his rescue helicopter in the rain 

Pictured: The former RAF search and rescue pilot and second in line to the throne checks his rescue helicopter in the rain 

Pictured: The former RAF search and rescue pilot and second in line to the throne checks his rescue helicopter in the rain 

WILLIAM’S SERVICE

– The Prince graduated from Sandhurst military academy in December 2006 and was commissioned into the Blues and Royals, a regiment of the Household Cavalry

– In 2008, William received his RAF wings from his father, the Prince of Wales

– He was then transferred from the Army to the RAF and made Flight Lieutenant Wales 

– Two years later, in 2010, he joined the RAF’s Search and Rescue Force

– In 2012, he was deployed for a tour in the Falkland Islands 30 years after Britain fought a war with Argentina to reclaim them

– One year later, his active service with the Air Force came to an end

The ex-serviceman, now a tree surgeon, had been crushed by a branch while working in a garden in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire.

Mr Schembri told the Daily Express at the time: ‘When they loaded me into the helicopter I said, ‘William had better not be flying this’ and he said: ‘I’ve been holding your head for the last half an hour.’ I was totally shocked.’

William has tried to keep a low profile while out working with crewmates but has been captured on camera phones landing his helicopter, and walking back to the aircraft after the medical crew have finished work.

One of his more unusual call-outs saw the duke using his balloon skills to create a puppet from a surgical glove to calm toddler Luke Sawyer who had suffered an allergic reaction in Essex in March 2016.

His mother Donna told Hello! magazine at the time: ‘We thought it was a really touching thing for Prince William to do as it really took his mind off everything that was going on.’

Throughout his service with the EAAA, William has been based out of Cambridge Airport, as part of a team including specialist doctors, critical care paramedics and pilots.

While he joined the charity in March 2015, he only began his first missions in July after completing an initial period of job-specific training involving simulator, aircraft and in-flight skills training.  

EAAA helicopters can reach patients anywhere in the region within 25 minutes – and last year carried out 2,361 missions.

Pictured: Anmer Hall, on the Sandringham estate, where Prince William has lived during his time at the charity

Pictured: Anmer Hall, on the Sandringham estate, where Prince William has lived during his time at the charity

Pictured: Anmer Hall, on the Sandringham estate, where Prince William has lived during his time at the charity

The whole family will move to Kensington Palace in London to allow the Duke of Cambridge to add to his royal duties. Pictured: William, the Duchess of Cambridge, Prince George and Princess Charlotte 

The whole family will move to Kensington Palace in London to allow the Duke of Cambridge to add to his royal duties. Pictured: William, the Duchess of Cambridge, Prince George and Princess Charlotte 

The whole family will move to Kensington Palace in London to allow the Duke of Cambridge to add to his royal duties. Pictured: William, the Duchess of Cambridge, Prince George and Princess Charlotte 

Pictured: Kensington Palace, London, where the family will live in an apartment as their primary residence 

Pictured: Kensington Palace, London, where the family will live in an apartment as their primary residence 

Pictured: Kensington Palace, London, where the family will live in an apartment as their primary residence 

The charity provides rapid, effective treatment as soon as possible after injury, and transport patients directly to hospital if required. 

In a statement issued by Kensington Palace earlier this year the Duke of Cambridge said: ‘It has been a huge privilege to fly with the East Anglian Air Ambulance.

Proud grandparents: The Queen and Prince Philip stand with William near the EAAA helicopter 

Proud grandparents: The Queen and Prince Philip stand with William near the EAAA helicopter 

Proud grandparents: The Queen and Prince Philip stand with William near the EAAA helicopter 

‘I would like to thank the people of East Anglia for being so supportive of my role and for letting me get on with the job when they have seen me in the community or at our region’s hospitals.

‘I would especially like to thank all of my colleagues at EAAA, Babcock, and Cambridge Airport for their friendship and support. I have loved being part of a team of professional, talented people that save lives every day.

‘My admiration for our country’s medical and emergency services community could not be any stronger.’ 

During his time with the charity, the duke worked as part of a six-strong team on a roster of day and night shifts as he responded to emergencies ranging from road accidents to heart attacks.

In September 2015 Prince William flew on a mission to HMP Highpoint South in Suffolk, where Myra Hyndley served the last three years of her life sentence.

A couple of months later, in November, he flew in to help at a real life drama in the village where ITV’s fictional crime series Grantchester is filmed.

The Duke of Cambridge flew to assist a man found with serious injuries near a pub in the Cambridgeshire village.

In January 2016 he returned to work at the Air Ambulance’s new purpose-built operations base in Cambridge, which cost around a quarter of a million pounds.      

Prince William's decision to leave the EAAA and taken on more royal duties comes after the Queen announced she would be stepping down as the patron of 25 organisations in December last year. Pictured: William and Kate

Prince William's decision to leave the EAAA and taken on more royal duties comes after the Queen announced she would be stepping down as the patron of 25 organisations in December last year. Pictured: William and Kate

Prince William’s decision to leave the EAAA and taken on more royal duties comes after the Queen announced she would be stepping down as the patron of 25 organisations in December last year. Pictured: William and Kate

Throughout his service with the EAAA, William has been based out of Cambridge Airport, as part of a team including specialist doctors, critical care paramedics and pilots. Pictured: The Prince refuelling the helicopter during his first year of working for the charity  

Throughout his service with the EAAA, William has been based out of Cambridge Airport, as part of a team including specialist doctors, critical care paramedics and pilots. Pictured: The Prince refuelling the helicopter during his first year of working for the charity  

Throughout his service with the EAAA, William has been based out of Cambridge Airport, as part of a team including specialist doctors, critical care paramedics and pilots. Pictured: The Prince refuelling the helicopter during his first year of working for the charity  

Father and son: Prince William, left, is joined by his father, Prince Charles, in the EAAA helicopter 

Father and son: Prince William, left, is joined by his father, Prince Charles, in the EAAA helicopter 

Father and son: Prince William, left, is joined by his father, Prince Charles, in the EAAA helicopter 

William and Kate are reportedly hoping to expand their own Royal Foundation charity and want to focus more on causes like mental health.

The Duke and Duchess, along with Prince Harry, have lent their support to helping people battle mental health issues and launched the Heads Together campaign last year.

They will move from their primary resident at Amner Hall in Norfolk to an apartment in Kensington Palace in London with their two children. 

It comes after the Queen announced she would be stepping down as the patron of 25 organisations in December last year. 

William has been stung by criticism that he is ‘workshy’ and a ‘reluctant royal’.

Sources close to Prince William spoke out in his defence last year, describing him as a ‘modern working father and husband’.

A senior aide also revealed that the future king works an average of 80 hours a month so he can combine his royal and charity work with his job as an air ambulance pilot.

Claiming the Duke of Cambridge’s hours were in line with Civil Aviation Authority regulations, the aide insisted he had the backing of both his grandmother and father.

Other full-time working royals – including William’s grandmother, the Queen – will conduct 500-plus engagements each year.

The second-in-line to the throne said last year he was making the most of time to do another ‘worthwhile job’ while he could and his family was supportive.

He said: ‘I take duty very seriously. I take my responsibilities very seriously. But it’s about finding your own way at the right time and if you’re not careful duty can weigh you down at a very early age.

‘I think you have got to develop into the duty role.’

I take duty very seriously. I take my responsibilities very seriously. But it’s about finding your own way at the right time and if you’re not careful duty can weigh you down at a very early age. ‘I think you have got to develop into the duty role

Prince William was seen helping to prepare a stretcher for an injured patient in Bedfordshire

Prince William was seen helping to prepare a stretcher for an injured patient in Bedfordshire

Prince William was seen helping to prepare a stretcher for an injured patient in Bedfordshire

Prince William flew an air ambulance to to scene in a bid to try and save the teenage boy, who was named by friends today as 17-year-old Robbie Lea - but he died

Prince William flew an air ambulance to to scene in a bid to try and save the teenage boy, who was named by friends today as 17-year-old Robbie Lea - but he died

Prince William flew an air ambulance to to scene in a bid to try and save the teenage boy, who was named by friends today as 17-year-old Robbie Lea - but he died

Prince William flew an air ambulance to to scene in a bid to try and save the teenage boy, who was named by friends today as 17-year-old Robbie Lea - but he died

Prince William flew an air ambulance to to scene in a bid to try and save the teenage boy, who was named by friends today as 17-year-old Robbie Lea – but he died 

He said that his grandmother and father are still very busy with royal duties and said he will be ready to take on more when the time comes.

‘My grandmother and father are 150 per cent supportive behind everything I am doing, as are Harry and Catherine.

‘There’s the time now and the space to explore doing another worthwhile job’.

Prince Philip announced his retirement this year but the Queen will continue to undertake solo public engagements. But Prince Charles, the Duchess of Cornwall, Prince Andrew, Princess Anne and the Earl and Countess of Wessex will accompany her to more official events. Palace insiders are referring to the new set-up as ‘Team Windsor’.

The news will also increase pressure on the younger members of the Royal Family – William, Kate and Harry – to do more. Philip carried out more days of public engagements last year – 110 – than Harry (86) or William (80). Bottom of the list was Kate, with just 63.

 

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