Prince William talks mental health; reveals he experiences anxiety before public speeches


Making public speeches is an obligation expected from senior royals, especially from those who are likely to become monarch in the future. However, the skill doesn’t come naturally to Prince William, who is second in the line of succession to the British throne.

Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, has revealed that he experiences anxiety ahead of public speaking engagements, but he uses a trick to calm his nerves. The British royal made the revelation in a new documentary “Football, Prince William and Our Mental Health,” which confronts the stigma associated with men’s mental health, a cause close to William’s heart.

The father-of-three shared that he takes benefit of his poor vision to overcome anxiety, as he cannot see anyone’s face without his contact lenses during public speeches. The 37-year-old said: “My eyesight started to tail off a little bit as I got older, and I didn’t use to wear contacts when I was working, so actually when I gave speeches I couldn’t see anyone’s face.”

“And it helps, because it’s just a blur of faces and because you can’t see anyone looking at you — I can see enough to read the paper and stuff like that — but I couldn’t actually see the whole room. And actually that really helps with my anxiety,” added the royal, who along with his wife Kate Middleton has been working towards spreading mental health awareness.

The British prince, who has earlier spoken about how coronavirus pandemic is affecting people’s mental health, said that he is also worried about the mental well-being of the staff of the National Health Service. The royal said that while the frontline workers are being rightly hailed as “heroes,” there should be caution around using the word, as it can alienate some and put pressure on them to “be this strong pillar of strength” and to not ask for help to deal with mental issues.

In an interview with BBC’s “The One Show” ahead of the release of his documentary, the royal referred to the pressure of being heroes put on NHS staff similar to the “burden that we gave our soldiers fighting in the war.”

Prince William
AFP / Getty Images

He said: “They should rightly be hailed as superstars, and brave, and wonderful staff; but I’m very conscious from a mental health point of view that we don’t alienate some of them. Where they feel that once they have this hero tag, they can no longer shake that, and therefore they can’t ask for support, they have to be this strong pillar of strength, when actual fact what we need them to be is examples of positive mental health.”