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Prince William says poor eyesight helped him overcome anxiety when giving speeches

Duke of Cambridge speaks about experiencing anxiety in new BBC documentary

Sabrina Barr
Thursday 28 May 2020 12:54 BST
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The Duke of Cambridge has said that his poor eyesight helped him to overcome his anxiety when delivering big speeches, as the faces in the audience became a “blur”.

On Thursday 28 May, the documentary Football, Prince William And Our Mental Health is being broadcast on BBC One at 8.05pm.

In the documentary, which was filmed over the course of a year, Prince William discusses men’s mental health issues within the world of football with a variety of people, including players and fans.

At one point in the film, Prince William is asked by a grassroots footballer who suffers from anxiety whether the royal ever felt worried or uneasy always being in the public eye.

The duke said that he used to feel particularly uneasy when he was younger and tasked with delivering important speeches.

However, being unable to clearly see the faces of people in the audience made him feel more at ease.

“My eyesight started to tail off a little bit as I got older, and I didn’t use to wear contacts when I was working, so when I gave speeches I couldn’t see anyone’s face,” he stated.

“And it helps, because it’s just a blur of faces and because you can’t see anyone looking at you – I can see enough to read the paper and stuff like that – but I couldn’t actually see the whole room. And actually that really helped with my anxiety.”

While filming the documentary, Prince William travelled around the country promoting the Heads Up initiative.

The initiative was launched by the Heads Together campaign and the Football Association with the aim of raising awareness about mental health and to encourage football supporters to speak out about any issues they are experiencing.

During a visit to West Bromwich Albion Football Club, Prince William met with current and former footballers who have experienced people close to them taking their own lives.

Speaking of male suicide, the duke said: “It is one of the biggest killers of young men under 45.

“As pain and grief goes, and I’ve heard this from sadly too many families who have been bereaved by suicide, it is one of the rawest forms of grief because you’re left with so many unanswered questions. Could I have done more, should I have done more, why did they do it?”

Prince William continued, describing suicide as “scary” and “frightening”.

“Men seem to have a real issue with opening up and being able to talk about it,” he said.

“If we can have a major impact on lowering suicide rates, that’s a success from this campaign.”

The Heads Up initiative is currently on hold due to cancellation of football matches amid the coronavirus pandemic.

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