This week is a big one for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry. Since they launched their Heads Together campaign last year, aiming to change the conversation on mental health, they've been working towards these seven days. For on Sunday, Heads Together will be the official charity of the London Marathon and in the run up to it (no pun intended, honestly) they're using every chance they can take to make everyone more aware of mental health. The spotlight on them is huge - not only are they aiming to put Heads Together at the top of the agenda, they will be judged on whether they succeed and how they do it. Here's the week so far...
Harry has been at the centre of much of this special seven days. His revelations about how suppressing his feelings about losing his mother, Diana, had affected him and how counselling had made such a difference to him (all in a brilliant interview with the Daily Telegraph's Bryony Gordon for her new podcast Mad World) made headlines around the world. As he helped officially open the 2017 London Marathon exhibition, and hand out numbers to runners, major media outlets were still talking to him about it. Viewers of last night's BBC News at Ten will have seen Harry interviewed by Royal Correspondent, Peter Hunt, about his feelings and Heads Together.
The ribbon is cut, and the 2017 @LondonMarathon Expo is officially opened by Prince Harry (with a little extra help!) pic.twitter.com/XxAXHe8k7E— Kensington Palace (@KensingtonRoyal) April 19, 2017
Harry also did what Harry does best and charmed just about everyone in a ten mile radius when he asked a little girl to help him cut the ribbon to open the exhibition. Please note the care with which he handles the whole child and scissors issue (not that we're already thinking wedding and babies now Meghan has stopped blogging). Back to Heads Together. Harry also got the chance to meet some of the many runners doing the race for Heads Together and left them a message - a very Harry message. Smash It.
So far, that's what Harry has done this week but William and Kate are now coming into focus as the big day approaches. The Duchess of Cambridge was also out meeting runners and others involved in Heads together on April 19th.
On a sunny spring day in London, Kate helped unveil a really eye catching way of making everyone aware of Heads Together. Thanks to Royal Mail, seventy post boxes around London will sport Heads Together headbands for the Marathon and Kate did the honours for the first. You can spot the arty streak in this duchess a mile off, the sticky headband was applied to perfection.
Awesome to see @madametussauds getting @usianbolt, @j_ennis, @mo_farah & @JonnyWilkinson behind #teamheadstogether! pic.twitter.com/rIWQhzl8cW— Heads Together (@heads_together) April 19, 2017
All the runners this year will get a Heads Together headband which means a global audience of millions will know them like the back of their own hands by the end of Sunday. It's a canny move. Runners also get a good luck note from William, Kate and Harry in their welcome pack while all three will be on hand to cheer participants on this weekend. And if anyone needs a good laugh after making it all the way round the 26 and a bit mile course, they can look at the photos of the royal trio's waxworks at Madame Tussauds which are also sporting the headbands. They wear them well.
But this is about more than photos. The first three days of the week have brought a lot of words and all of them worth listening to. While Harry's interview has gained the most attention (rightly so, it's a big moment for him and the House of Windsor), William has also been vocal. Along with Harry, he gave an interview to organisation, Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM), in which he said it's a sign of strength for men to look after their mental as well as their physical health. And he, too, spoke about the impact of losing his mum as in this week's BBC programme Mind Over Marathon which follows people with mental health issues as they get ready to run the race. William spoke of the shock of losing Diana, adding that it never went away.
This personal element had given Heads Together a real lift. It's come from celebrities as well as the royals. We'd already heard the experiences of stars including Stephen Fry and Ruby Wax in a series of films about mental health shared by Kensington Palace and this week has also seen William's Facebook chat with Lady Gaga who talked about her experiences as the two encouraged others to be more open about mental health.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry will attend this year’s @londonmarathon together for the first time to support runners taking part in their mental health campaign @heads_together, which is this year’s Charity of the Year for the Marathon. All 39,000 Virgin Money London Marathon runners will be given a special Heads Together headband which they can wear on race day to be part of the national movement to end the stigma around mental health once and for all. During the week leading up to the marathon Their Royal Highnesses will attend several events in support of #TeamHeadsTogether - Heads Together wants to make this year’s marathon the ‘mental health marathon’ that gets the country talking about mental health and Their Royal Highnesses will cheer on all runners at points along the route on Marathon day!
That's a message we'll hear a lot in the coming days and that can only be a good thing. William, Kate and Harry were always going to get attention for anything they did and with the year long build up for the Heads Together Marathon, a spotlight was guaranteed. It's how that's used which is the interesting aspect. Halfway through this big week, it's going very well. It's been open, honest, interesting, revealing. They've asked us to talk and they're leading the way. Heads Together has gone from a project to a reality touching lives and we're still not at race day. With a new royal conversation every day, this campaign has no doubt encouraged many to look for help in the last few days alone. Let's applaud them for that. This is a conversation well worth having and its royal backers are giving it a platform that can only bring benefits.