A Royal visit to a school in Essex took a dramatic turn when the Duke of Cambridge jumped to the rescue of a local dignitary who fell to the ground.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were being greeted in Harlow when Jonathan Douglas-Hughes, the Vice Lord Lieutenant of Essex and the Queen’s representative in the county, tumbled over a bollard.
Prince William, a part-time pilot with East Anglia Air Ambulance, rushed to the aid of the stricken Vice Lord Lieutenant before helping him back to his feet outside the Stewards Academy secondary school.
The Vice Lord Lieutenant, wearing military uniform and carrying a sword, was outstretched on the ground by the side of the road before he was helped back to his feet by the Duke and a group of others who immediately jumped in to help.
A gasp went up from around 30 well-wishers as he landed on his back and he was helped to his feet.
Mr Douglas-Hughes turned to Prince William and said “sorry about that”.
Despite the fall, Mr Douglas-Hughes was unhurt and was able to dust himself off before escorting the Royal visitors around the school.
Asked how he was after, he said: “I’m fine thank you. The Duke was very concerned but I reassured him I was perfectly all right.”
The Duke and Duchess were in Harlow to promote the Heads Together campaign, which was launched in May with Prince Harry and aims to challenge the stigma over mental health problems.
They were given a tour of Stewards Academy, which is one of the schools supported by children’s mental health charity Place2Be.
Writing in a blog published this morning ahead of the visit to Essex, the Duke had spoken of his desire to ensure that Prince George and Princess Charlotte not only fulfill their academic potential but are emotionally supported at school.
“The truth is, for many young people, changing schools or starting a new academic year is really difficult to deal with.
“Catherine and I have young children who will be going through this themselves in a short period of time, and like all parents we will want to make sure that our children are not just able to achieve their academic potential at school but are also happy and emotionally supported.”
He added: “If we could end the old-fashioned idea that feeling down is something to be ashamed of, something that you shouldn’t burden others with, we would make our society a much happier and healthier place.
“By encouraging children to talk and to get support, we could stop these feelings developing into more serious problems that continue into adulthood.”
The couple were at the school, which has more than 1,000 pupils aged between 11 and 16, for around two hours. They were shown into a classroom and listened to children openly discussing issues such as divorce, bullying and lack of confidence.
Prince William teased one boy who said he used football to help combat his problems. “What team do you support,” asked the Aston Villa-supporting Duke. “Chelsea? Just when I thought we could get along!”
As they spoke to parents afterwards, Prince William joked that he sometimes feels like he is still 16, at which point the Duchess grabbed his arm and said: “I still think you’re 16.”
He sheepishly replied: “Yes, Catherine often tells me that.”