Prince William meets Royal Navy rowers to mark Mental Health Awareness Week

Prince William has joined the crew of a team of Royal Navy submariners who have taken on a transatlantic rowing challenge to raise money for mental health causes.

On Sunday (21 May), the Prince of Wales – who is the commander-in-chief of the submarine service – released a YouTube video of his visit to Dorney Lake in Buckinghamshire.

In the video, which came out as part of Mental Health Awareness Week, William joined the members of the HMS Oardacious as they took part in a training session on the lake.

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

In January 2020, four serving Royal Navy submariners became the fastest military team in history to row across any ocean. They spent 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 HMS Oardacious co-founders, Lieutenant Commander Callum Fraser and Lieutenant Commander Hugo Mitchell-Heggs. He also met 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 then takes to the water and does his bit rowing as he chats to the members of HMS Oardacious, who have crews lined up for this year’s event and for 2024.

A Kensington Palace spokesperson 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.

“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.”

Also as part of Mental Health Awareness Week, the Princess of Wales has visited The Dame Kelly Holmes Trust in Bath, and the Anna Freud Centre in London to highlight the event.

Additional reporting by Press Association.