Prince William on Apple Fitness+ Time To Walk review: ‘It feels like taking a walk with a best mate’

The Duke of Cambridge tells listeners stories about his childhood and shares meaningful songs

David Phelan
Sunday 05 December 2021 00:01
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On Monday morning, Apple Fitness+ subscribers in more than 20 countries, including the UK, will see the latest Time To Walk episode automatically download to their Apple Watch, featuring Prince William, talking, as he walks around what he calls the “Great British countryside”; in this case in Norfolk.

Here’s why it’s worth a listen – and how to hear it if you’re not an Apple Fitness+ subscriber.

What is Time To Walk?

Time To Walk is the name for a workout designed to get people to be more active, and works with an Apple Watch and a pair of Bluetooth headphones. As you head out for a walk, you press start, and that episode’s guest will tell you a little about their life, share stories and choose three songs that have been meaningful to them.

It’s a lot like a shorter version of Desert Island Discs, except that the fact that you and the guest are walking at the same time creates a brilliantly intimate, completely personal atmosphere. It’s just you and them.

What happens in this episode to Time To Walk with Prince William?

Prince William takes you on a stroll around the Sandringham estate, pointing out songbirds, and recalling how it was his father who instilled in him a desire to walk. “He used to try and force Harry and I out of the house to walk. We weren’t really having any of this but now, when you get older, you appreciate it a lot more.”

Prince William talks in such a relaxed way that you occasionally forget who he’s talking about when he mentions his grandfather or his mother. His stories of childhood crop up all through the walk, whether that’s trying not to giggle when sitting in church on Christmas Day or a formative memory of being taken to a homeless shelter by his mother, who was keen to make sure he understood what life was like outside the palace walls.

Princess Diana also crops up later, when the prince chooses his songs. The first of these is Simply the Best, and he introduces the Tina Turner track by remembering that when his mother was driving him and his brother back to boarding school after holidays, all three of them, and the Special Branch policeman, would be belting out the lyrics together at top volume. “Sitting in the back seat and singing away, it felt like a real family moment… When I listen to it now it takes me back to those car rides and brings back lots of memories of my mother.”

He talks about flying for the Air Ambulance and attending an accident where a young boy had been hit by a car. They got the boy to hospital very quickly to ensure the best chance of survival. The effect on Prince William came weeks later, and helped him to realise the importance of mental health and talking about things that affect you deeply. “Mental health has been a taboo and a stigma for a long time all around the world, and it still is.” Recounting one moment of his Air Ambulance experience, he is audibly moved, years later.

A moment later, he’s laughing, saying, “I can’t believe I’m actually telling this story.” It concerns a fundraising gala where Jon Bon Jovi is singing. Taylor Swift is sitting next to Prince William and, during the second song, “She puts her hand on my arm, looks me in the eyes and says, ‘Come on, William, let’s go and sing.’ To this day, I don’t know what came over me… I got up like a puppy and went.”

As you listen to Time To Walk, relevant photographs appear on the Apple Watch screen and at this point, up pops an image of Taylor Swift, Jon Bon Jovi and a prince who looks like what he may lack in talent he makes up for in enthusiasm.

His love of music has been inherited by his children and there’s a daily “massive fight” between Charlotte and George for what song is playing. Their current favourite is Waka Waka by Shakira, he confides, before the song plays.

His description of going to the homeless centre is one of the most potent. “It really brings it to life when you hear somebody talking openly about the challenges they’ve been up against. We live in these little echo chambers where you’re only subjected to what you want to be subjected to.” Listening to others is crucial, he says, “If we don’t let each other feel valued then you can become very disenfranchised, lost, lonely, isolated. I think listening is one of our greatest tools.”

How can I hear the episode if I don’t have an Apple Watch?

It’s no coincidence that this episode has been released near to Christmas, at a time when mental health, a topic the prince returns to over and over, seems especially timely.

So, Apple has done something with this episode it hasn’t done before. To allow a wider audience to hear it, it is making it available for anyone to hear, free. It’s available through the Apple Music app on iPhone, iPad, Android phones or Mac, through the radio tab. Open up the Apple Music app or go to music.apple.com on Monday morning at 8am GMT and you can hear it on Apple Music 1. It’s repeated at 4pm and 9pm the same day.

The walk ends when Prince William reaches his front door, as he comments that it’s been like taking a walk with a best mate. And while few of us will ever be the Duke of Cambridge’s best mate, for 38 minutes, that’s how it feels.

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