The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall have carried out the first in-person royal engagement of 2021, by visiting the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham.
Prince Charles and Camilla visited the hospital to thank individuals for taking part in clinical trials for COVID-19 vaccinations. The Prince and Duchess, who have both received their first COVID-19 vaccination, also met healthcare staff receiving their jabs in the couple’s first joint official public event in two months.
The royal couple, who both wore face coverings for the indoor visit, were greeted at the hospital by the Health Secretary, Matt Hancock and Dr David Rosser, Chief Executive of University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust (UHB), which runs the QE, as it is called locally.
This is the second vaccination centre The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall have visited. The couple previously visited Gloucestershire Royal Hospital in December, where Charles declared his intentions to have the Covid-19 vaccination, when offered.
The University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust is understood to have treated the largest number of patients, who have tested positive out of any NHS Trust in the UK – more than 12,500; 10,000 of these have been discharged.
The Trust has also recruited a total of 12,000 patients for the vaccine trials.
Following the visit, the couple unveiled a plaque at the hospital to commemorate their visit to thank staff.
The Prince of Wales began by saying: “Ladies and Gentleman, the Secretary of State mentioned just now that the National Health Service was 72 years old, which happens to coincide exactly with the same age as I am”, Prince Charles said in a speech.
“And the great thing is that the NHS has done a great deal better I can assure you than I have, as I am gradually falling apart.”
He added: “I know, over the last year. It must be absolutely exhausting for so many of you, but I know the NHS is such an enormous team and there are masses of people who are unsung and unseen heroes and heroines.”
The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall today visited the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham to thank volunteers undertaking clinical trials for the COVID-19 vaccinations. pic.twitter.com/FRKqDq8hHP
— The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall (@ClarenceHouse) February 17, 2021
As supporters of the NHS, Charles and Camilla have previously commended staff working for the NHS as ‘remarkably selfless’ who ‘have made costly sacrifices’.
The visit comes weeks after Buckingham Palace confirmed that The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh had received their coronavirus jabs.