William joins submariners raising money to support colleagues’ mental health

The Prince of Wales has joined the crew of a team of Royal Navy submariners who have taken on a Transatlantic rowing challenge to raise money to support the mental health and wellbeing of their colleagues.

William, Commander-in-Chief of the Submarine Service, has released a YouTube video of his visit to the members of the HMS Oardacious crew as they took part in a training session on Dorney Lake in Buckinghamshire.

HMS Oardacious was set up in 2019 to fundraise through submariners taking on the challenge of rowing across the Atlantic with £110,000 being raised so far.

In January 2020, four serving Royal Navy submariners became the fastest military team in history to row across any ocean, spending 37 days, 6 hours and 40 minutes battling across the North Atlantic to reach Antigua as part of the annual Atlantic Challenge.

In the short film, William meets co-founders, Lieutenant Commander Callum Fraser and Lieutenant Commander Hugo Mitchell-Heggs, as well as Chief Petty Officer Jon Norfolk who took part in the 2022 team and Lieutenant Isobel Rawlinson who is looking to captain an all-female team in 2024.

The prince takes to the water and does his bit rowing as he chats to the members of HMS Oardacious which have crews lined up for this year’s event and for 2024.

A Kensington Palace spokesman said: “Together they discuss the importance of managing our mental health and how exercise can be used as a tool to help manage it.

“The crew also share their experiences of crossing the Atlantic, the challenges they faced and the impact it had on both their physical and mental health.

Mental Health Awareness Week
The Prince of Wales with members of the HMS Oardacious crew as they took part in a training session on Dorney Lake, Windsor in Buckinghamshire (Kensington Palace Copyright: The Prince and Princess of Wales/PA)

“Back in the boathouse, William hears from the crew in more depth about how they manage their mental health, the support they provide to each other as a team, and the work HMS Oardacious does to raise awareness and combat the stigma associated with talking about mental wellbeing.”

Speaking during the film, William said: “Understanding our support networks is crucial because a lot of people don’t have those support networks and being able to form close bonds and realise that the only way we are going to get through all of this is to support each other and pull each other through.”

The video has been released as part of Mental Health Awareness Week which runs until Sunday, May 21, and follows visits by the Princess of Wales to The Dame Kelly Holmes Trust in Bath and the Anna Freud Centre in London to highlight the event.