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Prince William praises ambulance crews as he leaves lockdown for first in-person engagement

The Cambridges have been isolating at Anmer Hall

Emily Nash

The Duke of Cambridge has thanked ambulance crews for their work during the COVID-19 outbreak, as he carried out his first face-to-face royal engagement for three months. Prince William had a socially distanced meeting with staff at the King's Lynn Ambulance station at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Norfolk, thanking them for their dedication in responding to the pandemic.

READ: Duchess of Cornwall finally reunited with grandchildren during lockdown

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WATCH:  The Duke of Cambridge visits the Kings Lynn Ambulance Station

William, who turns 38 on 21 June, passed a COVID-19 temperature test and washed his hands before stopping himself from shaking hands with hard-working staff from the East of England Ambulance Service Trust (EEAST). He said: "I'm still fighting the urge to shake hands. I'm keeping my hands by my side."

William was told how the East of England Ambulance Service Trust had been able to continue providing round-the-clock accident and emergency services to 6.2 million people with support from other "blue lights partners" including air ambulances.

The service, which operates over 130 sites, has also been supported by members of the public, local businesses and volunteering networks during the crisis. The Duke, a former pilot with the East Anglian Air Ambulance, also heard about the impact the outbreak has had on the crews' mental health.

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William had his temperature checked upon arrival

In April, he and the Duchess set up the Our Frontline initiative to provide 24-hour mental health and bereavement support to frontline and key workers. The scheme, which is backed by the couple’s Royal Foundation, is run in partnership with Mind, Samaritans, Hospice UK and the crisis text messaging service Shout85258.

The Duke told staff: "You are the first people on the scene so by osmosis you take in emotions around you, it's how best you make sure the training is there from the beginning."

William said that he had enjoyed the weekly Clap For Carers campaign during lockdown, calling it a "powerful initiative." He added: "I look forward to messages when we can drink more and go out to the local pub and have a pint."

MORE: Prince William arranges best surprise for family who are shielding during lockdown

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William praised ambulance staff during his visit 

Before leaving the station, the father-of-three thanked paramedics working from their families for their "sacrifices" and for all their hard work. 

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have been isolating at their nearby Norfolk home, Anmer Hall, with Prince George, six, Princess Charlotte, five, and Prince Louis, two, since March. 

For more information, visit: ourfrontline.org.

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