They reigned supreme on Zoom for most of last year, and now it’s back to video conference calls for William and Kate as they return to work during the UK’s third national lockdown.
While January is traditionally a quiet time for the royals, with the Queen taking an extended break until early February, the rest of the family is back to work. Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall launched her new online book club Friday, while the Cambridges took part in a video call with frontline workers and counsellors from Hospice UK’s Just ‘B‘ service to see how NHS staff are coping during the peak of the pandemic in Britain.
Through their royal charity, The Royal Foundation, William and Kate are providing financial support to a number of organizations, including Hospice UK’s Just ‘B’ Service, which has set up a bereavement and trauma helpline for frontline workers; it is run by a team of fully trained counsellors and support workers.
Last July William and Kate announced the launch of The Royal Foundation’s COVID-19 Response Fund to help leading mental health charities to increase their capacity for helpline and chat services to meet rising demands as a consequence of the pandemic. Among the people the Just B service will benefit are NHS staff, social care workers, carers and all emergency services personnel around the UK. As the NHS comes close to breaking point with a rise in Covid patient admissions which is currently at the highest level since the start of the Covid pandemic, the line will be a crucial support to many.
Operating between 8am-8pm, 365 days a year, Just ‘B’ provides confidential, free to access bereavement and wellbeing support related to anxiety, trauma and the impact of encountering a significant number of deaths, in addition to support for personal bereavement and loss.
Just ‘B’ counsellors Tony Collins and Caroline Francis spoke to the Duke and Duchess about the toll that the pandemic is having on frontline staff, with service users often citing exhaustion and the relentless nature of the crisis as their reasons for calling. Other participants in the call included Carly Kennard, Emergency Call Coordinator, London Ambulance Service; Jules Lockett, Emergency Operations Centre Training Lead, London Ambulance Service; Conal Devitt, Social Prescribing Link Worker, Formby Primary Care Network; Manal Sadik, Associate Director for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion and Widening Participation, Guys and St Thomas’; Phil Spencer, Wellbeing Inspector, Cleveland Police; Tony Collins, Just ‘B’ volunteer helpline call handler and CEO of North Yorkshire Hospice Care (NYCC); and Caroline Francis, Just ‘B’ helpline support worker and nurse at North Yorkshire Hospice Care (NYCC).
The Cambridges have remained focused on supporting frontline workers during the pandemic with a particular focus on mental health and well-being. Currently based in Norfolk, where they have been since December, William and Kate are home schooling their three children with the help of the family’s nanny Maria Borrallo. Kensington Palace has said that most of the couple’s work will have to be done online for the foreseeable future because of the lockdown restrictions, although William was able to visit the homeless charity The Passage at the end of last year, where he volunteered at an emergency food hub.
More Great Stories From Vanity Fair
— How Harry and Meghan’s Royal Exit Led to an Unexpected Happy Ending
— Astrologer Chani Nicholas Says 2021 Will Still Be Tough, but There’s Hope
— Report: Kim Kardashian and Kanye West Are Getting Divorced
— More Hillsong Pastors Resign as Justin Bieber Confirms He’s Left the Church
— Does Prince Andrew Understand That He Can’t Go Back to Normal Royal Life?
— Sheryl Crow’s Life Lessons
— The 13 Best Winter Moisturizers for Every Skin Need
— From the Archive: The Temptation of Tiger Woods
— Not a subscriber? Join Vanity Fair to receive full access to VF.com and the complete online archive now.