An article by Prince William for the Armed Forces supplement in the Sunday Telegraph


I do feel there is truth in the view that society can learn much from British military values and ethos.

It seems to have become a cliché in recent years for people in all walks of life to talk about how Armed Forces’ discipline and strict lifestyle could help a wayward generation of young people to learn how to behave in a civilised manner. My generation, like any generation before it, is not hell-bent on violence and mayhem – far from it. But I do feel there is truth in the view that society can learn much from British military values and ethos.

That is why I am so delighted to have become the Royal Patron of Skill Force – an organisation that takes the best of our military training, skills and life experience, and puts it to work in today’s society. What makes this charity successful is that most of its instructors are ex-Armed Forces and are therefore steeped in the military ethos and have an innate understanding of how this can be applied to help young people – some of them the most hard to reach in our country – inspiring them to adopt a can-do outlook and giving them confidence in their academic and personal lives.

The results are truly impressive. Thousands of young people each year come away better equipped to find a job, get into training or go on to further education. In short, the organisation has recognised that the core values of the Armed Forces bring out the best, not just in sailors, soldiers and airmen, but in the young across Britain.

Whatever the background, people of my age and younger want to make the most of our lives. For all sorts of reasons – lack of role model, a disruptive home life, a lack of aspiration in those around them – many find themselves setting off on the wrong path. Youth crime and gang violence are issues pretty well constantly in the headlines nowadays. Of course, these reports are by no means representative of the vast majority of Britain’s young men and women, but I do believe that they are emblematic of a wider problem: so often, young people are just not getting the support or encouragement that they so desperately need, and deserve.

Former gang members have told me that it is precisely to find status, respect from others and the role in a community that we all crave that led them to fall in with gangs in the first place. One enduring feature of all gangs – and teams – is that they survive on mutual support. They allow their members to earn respect by obeying the rules, and they share clear objectives. Essentially, they allow the individual to belong. As such, the fundamental difference – so far as I can see – between violent street gangs and cohesive teams of contented young people is the destructive violence of the former set against the constructive comradeship of the latter, which I have been fortunate enough to have experienced first hand in the Services.

The challenge, therefore, seems to me to be how to turn gang members into team members.

As anyone who has ever been a sailor, a soldier or an airman knows, serving your Country demands team work, initiative and the willingness to take calculated risks. Servicemen and women – whatever their age or rank – recognise that this can only be achieved by looking out for one another. Over the last few years – indeed, throughout our history – there have been countless examples of when our fighting men and women have taken this to the ultimate degree of self-sacrifice.

One of the unintended but invaluable consequences of the past few years’ high tempo of operations is that the British public has once again been exposed on an almost daily basis to the core values and extraordinary spirit of our Armed Forces. The governing advantage for Skill Force is that, as a charity, it has recognised this unique quality and spirit. What they have found in their work is that young people recognise this, too, and are responding to it in the most extraordinary way. The values that the charity stands for, on this Armed Forces Day, are something to celebrate alongside our country’s peerless fighting forces.

Related content


The Duke of Cambridge unveiled a new Submariners memorial

The Duke of Cambridge unveiled a new Submariners memorial at the National Arboretum

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge attended the St. Patrick’s Day Parade

The Duke and Duchess attended the St. Patrick's Day Parade at Mons Barracks

The inaugural Earthshot Prize Ceremony Awards London

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge attended the first ever Earthshot Prize Awards Ceremony

The Duke of Cambridge attended The Royal Foundation’s Emergency Services Mental Health Symposium

The Duke of Cambridge spoke to emergency services from across all four nations.

The King's Cup

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will host the inaugural regatta The King’s Cup in 2019

A speech delivered by The Duke of Cambridge at a United for Wildlife Joint Taskforce meeting

It has taken a lot of hard work – and real commitment – to get to the point where you are all sitting here together today. And we should all feel proud that we’re starting to...

14 May 2019

Remembrance 2018

Find out more about how The Royal Family are marking Remembrance 2018

A speech by The Duke of Cambridge at the handover of the Defence & National Rehab Centre to the nation

The Duke of Cambridge's speech at the handover of the Defence & National Rehabilitation Centre to the nation, during which he read the winning poem from the DNRC National...

21 June 2018

A speech delivered by The Duke of Cambridge at the Workplace Wellbeing Conference

I am delighted that The Royal Foundation and Mind will be launching a new Workplace Wellbeing Programme in September to support employers across the country

01 March 2018

A speech by The Duke of Cambridge at The Royal Foundation Forum

When we work together, we are greater than the sum of our parts." – The Duke of Cambridge on the impact of The Royal Foundation and its ability to bring people together to...

28 February 2018

A speech by The Duke of Cambridge at the National Launch of Step into Health, London

Supporting veterans has always been a key plank of the work my brother and I have done through The Royal Foundation. The men and women of our armed forces who stand up to...

18 January 2018

Reading by The Duke of Cambridge at the Last Post ceremony in Belgium

We extend our deep gratitude to the Last Post Association and the people of Ieper for this daily act of homage in honour of our fallen

30 July 2017

A speech by The Duke of Cambridge at The Guild of Health Writers Conference

My thanks to all of you, for your continued focus as journalists on mental health, breaking down the barriers around it.

06 February 2017

A speech by The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry at the Heads Together event, London 2017

It is no exaggeration to say that conversations – simple conversations – can be life-changing: in a workplace, in your kitchen at home, with a friend, family member or...

17 January 2017

A speech by The Duke of Cambridge at the Heads Together Unilever Conference

Without employers committed to changing attitudes, we would be pushing a rock uphill – but, with you, we can and will change the way we think about mental health in this...

05 December 2016

Remembrance 2016

The Queen and the Royal Family attend engagements to mark Remembrance 2016

A speech by The Duke of Cambridge at Kensington Memorial Park

I am delighted to dedicate Kensington Memorial Park as a Centenary Field

10 November 2016

A speech by The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry for Heads Together on World Mental Health Day

To us, mental health first aid means getting in there early to support people, before what they're going through becomes more serious or even clinical.

10 October 2016

A speech by The Duke of Cambridge at the NRW 70th Anniversary Gala in Dusseldorf

I am pleased to wish North Rhine-Westphalia, on its 70th anniversary: Alles Gute!

23 August 2016
Press release 28 April 2016

The Duke of Cambridge launches Cyberbullying Taskforce

Read more

A speech by The Duke of Cambridge at the United for Wildlife Transport Taskforce declaration signing

Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you so much for joining us here at Buckingham Palace for the signing of this declaration. Lord Hague, on behalf of everyone here, can I say a huge...

15 March 2016

The Royal Foundation of The Prince and Princess of Wales

Find out more about the primary vehicle for Their Royal Highnesses' philanthropic work...