The Duke of Cambridge has spoken of his “calling” to save lives as a helicopter pilot in a TV documentary to be screened next month.
In an interview for the BBC programme Helicopter Rescue, which features footage of William in action as a search and rescue captain, he says: “There’s no greater feeling than when you’ve actually done some good and saved someone’s life.
“I don’t think there’s any greater calling in life... to be able to see a son or daughter’s face when you bring their mother or father back from the edge of death – it’s quite powerful.”
In one rescue in the series, the Duke captains an aircraft called to save a boy who has fallen off an old railway bridge and onto rocks.
He describes his role once the call comes in: “As captain, you’re trying to play out the entire rescue, the transit to the rescue and back again in your mind, and pick up any circumstances or problems you can foresee, and try and fix them on the ground before you get airborne.”
The programme will be the first to show extensive footage of the Duke’s work as a search and rescue pilot.
William – known in the Air Force as Flight Lieutenant Wales – has been serving with the C Flight, 22 Squadron at RAF Valley on Anglesey since 2010.
He qualified as an operational search and rescue captain last year and now has a full-time job – albeit with time off for royal duties – rescuing stranded climbers and stricken vessels on emergency missions in Sea King helicopters.
The excerpts were released as members of the Royal Family carried out official duties, with the Queen presenting Maundy money to pensioners who have work tirelessly for their communities.
Joined by the Duke of Edinburgh, she distributed the traditional coins during the annual Royal Maundy service which this year was held in Oxford for the first time in almost 400 years.
Charles I was the last monarch to carry out the ceremony in the city in 1642 and 1643 when his court was established there during the Civil War.
Within Oxford’s ancient Christ Church cathedral, the Queen handed out the famous red and white purses of money to 87 women and 87 men – as she is now in her 87th year.
The red purse contained a £5 coin and 50p coin commemorating the 60th anniversary of the Queen’s coronation in 1953.
The white purse carried the famous Maundy money, silver 1p, 2p, 3p and 4p pieces – equal to 87p, again marking her 87th year.
The recipients were retired pensioners recommended by clergy and ministers of all denominations, in recognition of service to the Church and the community in the diocese of Oxford.
Barbara Muldowney, 85, from Wokingham, Berkshire, has been a stalwart member of St Bartholomew’s church in the nearby village of Arborfield.
She said: “I was nominated for a number of things, particularly 40 years’ teaching, also for membership of Arborfield’s church for 50 years and working amongst the young people.
“I’m tremendously honoured by it, I think it’s a tremendous privilege – I feel very inadequate.”
Further north, the Prince of Wales was in Cumbria to launch a new bursary aimed at maintaining the countryside. The Prince’s Countryside Fund is to offer five Land Rovers for a year to individuals and groups who can prove they can put it to good use.
Charles visited Kitridding Farm near Kirkby Lonsdale to officially launch the scheme and showed off his own driving skills as he drove a vehicle on a mini-Terrapod, an off-roading mobile unit.
He said: “The important thing to remember is if we do not look after it (the countryside), of course it is the farmers who do much of that, then once that is lost you just cannot recreate it. It is not something you can start again so easily.
“So far as I am concerned, the Countryside Fund will do its utmost to help the future of all of these smaller family farms and the rural community.”