Prince William attended a virtual service on Friday dedicated to thanking the first responders who have tirelessly come to the aid of many across the United Kingdom! As People shares, the event was initially supposed to be held in Belfast but ended up getting moved online due to the coronavirus pandemic.

William commends emergency services personnel for their work

William acknowledged the "sacrifices" that have been made by those on the front lines, extending his gratitude towards them. "On behalf of my family, I want to thank you all for your hard work, your determination and your courage – you are a tremendous source of pride for our country and we’ll be forever grateful for all that you do," he said during the event.

"Having had the privilege of working alongside emergency responders, I’ve always been struck by the remarkable can-do attitude in the face of even the gravest emergencies," the Duke of Cambridge continued. "They showcase the very best our country has to offer." William himself used to be an air ambulance pilot, so he has a special connection to and understanding of what it's like out there for first responders! 

Prince William speaks with English Ambulance Service Trust paramedics on 16 June 2020.

William addresses impact of coronavirus on first responders

William also mentioned how working in emergency services comes with a great deal of risk after it was brought up that over 300 NHS and first responders have lost their lives to coronavirus. "Tragically, some will pay the ultimate price as a result of their efforts in the line of duty, while others will experience lasting effects to their physical health or mental wellbeing," he said. "We all have a responsibility to do what we can to support the community and remember their efforts to keep us safe."

As People mentions, the event William virtually attended— the 999 Festival— is a multi-faith festival of thanksgiving for first responders held in various places throughout the United Kingdom. It encourages the public, politicians, and emergency services workers to come together and show their appreciation for those on the frontlines of emergency response.

The annual festival included a wreath-laying ceremony in honour of the more than 7,500 people who have died while providing emergency services. It also featured a special performance from the Blue Light Choir and videos from the head of the Coastguard, as well as the Chairs of the Police, Fire and Ambulance Councils.

Prince William is the first royal to address to COVID-19 crisis publicly.

William has supported first responders throughout pandemic

William then mentioned that everyone will depend on services provided by first responders at some point. "This year, more than ever, we have been repeatedly reminded of the sacrifices made by all those in the emergency responding community as they work tirelessly to protect us against COVID-19 and keep the country going in the most challenging circumstances," he said.

This isn't the first time William has shown his support for those on the front lines! Back in June, he stepped out for his first royal public outing amid the coronavirus pandemic to thank first responders. Last month, he also visited hospital staff with Duchess Kate, and the couple announced a major charity donation benefiting emergency services and mental health workers!