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William warns of pressures on children after helping aide get back on his feet

Published 16/09/2016

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arriving at Stewards Academy in Harlow
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arriving at Stewards Academy in Harlow
The Duchess of Cambridge arrives at Stewards Academy in Harlow, Essex

The Duke of Cambridge has spoken out about the pressures facing young children - after coming to the aid of a dignitary who fell flat on his back.

William said there were "layers" of pressures on today's youngsters as he visited an Essex secondary school with Kate to learn how pupils are coping with big challenges in their lives.

And during an informal chat with parents the Duke joked about the "perceptiveness" of three-year-olds - an apparent reference to his young son Prince George.

When the royal couple first arrived at Stewards Academy in Harlow William went to the aid of Jonathan Douglas-Hughes, vice lord-lieutenant of Essex, who had tumbled over.

Mr Douglas-Hughes, who was wearing his military-style ceremonial uniform complete with sword and spurs, fell as the Duke was introduced to local dignitaries outside the school.

A gasp went up from around 30 well-wishers as the dignitary stumbled and Kate, who wore an outfit by Altuzarra, was left opened mouthed by the accident.

Mr Douglas-Hughes was helped to his feet by William and others and as the Duke put a reassuring arm on his shoulder he said "Sorry about that'', and the royal replied: ''No, it's all right''.

The dignitary appeared unhurt after his fall and said after the royal visit: "I was stepping back and I tripped over a concrete bollard that was behind me, but I'm ok, I'm fine."

During their tour of the school which has measures - like peer mentors - to support the mental well-being of pupils, William and Kate met a group of people whose children were attending or had left the school.

After each parent had talked about the experiences of their sons and daughters who had faced issues like anxiety or shyness the Duke said youngsters faced "many layers of pressure".

He added: "When we were growing up we didn't have social media, mobile phones, a lot of TV programmes and everything else - social pressures.

"Now, they're so many, plus they have exams, plus they have expectations to do well, plus they have friends to make - it's a lot of layers. You can see why young people buckle, it's a lot."

There were also lighter moments during the discussion when William told the parents how "very perceptive" youngsters could be.

And in what could be a reference to his son George, aged three, he added: "You're only three years old, how do you know that?"

Commenting on what might lie ahead when his children are older he joked: "The challenges you get are sleepless nights - fine - but then you get all the other stuff."

William also confessed to parents "I still think I'm 16 sometimes", and Kate made the group laugh when she replied: "I still think you're 16."

The Duke and Duchess also joined pupils who spoke openly about how they had coped with major events in their lives from the death of a sibling to family break-ups and a parent struggling to cope with depression.

The visit also promoted William and Kate's Heads Together campaign, which was launched, with Prince Harry, in May to encourage a positive national conversation about mental health problems.

They are also working with a number of organisations and charities in the field to help address the issues faced by members of society with psychological issues.

In a speech to a school assembly William said: "Talking can make us realise that we're not alone.

"The opposite of talking is isolation and fear. Sometimes getting something off your chest is an important step in coping with a situation - so you know that you're not alone, you're not failing, and that it is perfectly normal to feel overwhelmed or sad at times. Everybody does.

"To be honest, if we could end the old fashioned idea that feeling down is something to be ashamed of, something that you shouldn't burden others with, we would make our society a much happier and healthier place."

The Heads Together charity partners have put together 10 Tips for Talking, available on the organisation's website, to help parents have conversations with their children about the big changes in their lives.

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