In recognition of the NHS’s 73rd birthday, The Duke of Cambridge took part in engagements to mark the special occasion on Monday, at St. Paul’s Cathedral and Buckingham Palace.
Originally planned as a day of joint engagements for the Duke and Duchess, Prince William had to carry on by himself after Catherine had to self-isolate, due to coming into contact with someone who later tested positive for Covid-19.
Beginning in the morning, The Queen’s grandson attended a Service of Thanksgiving at St. Paul’s Cathedral. The service was to be one of commemoration and thanksgiving ‘to celebrate the NHS’s contribution to the country during Covid-19, which was a combined effort of NHS staff, volunteers and carers.
Adhering to the guidelines for social distancing, the special event included a plethora of individuals who were key contributors to the NHS’s pandemic response. Included in this group were the frontline staff, patients, the NHS Chief Sir Simon Stevens, Matron May Parsons, who happens to be the first person to administer the historic first inoculation outside of the clinical trials.
Additionally, Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Leader of the Opposition, Sir Keir Starmer, were also in attendance.
Later in the afternoon, in his capacity as Patron of NHS Charities Together, a joint patronage that William shares with the Duchess, the Royal hosted a tea party for the staff of the NHS at Buckingham Palace.
Referred to as the ‘Big Tea’, the party was held in the gardens of the central London royal residence and paid tribute to the incomparable work of the NHS staff who selflessly went above and beyond their normal duties during the pandemic to save lives.
Many different ‘Big Teas’ also took place around the country, in not only schools but hospitals, community centres and individual homes.
The tea provided Prince William the opportunity to spend time chatting with the 28 health service workers who were nominated by their colleagues and specially selected for this honour.
While speaking to his guests, William expressed: “I am delighted you could all come here and thank you. What you guys are doing on a daily basis is just extraordinary, I don’t know how you all keep it up, it’s been truly relentless.”
The idea of hosting an event to thank the NHS workers was actually conceived by The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in December, after they had become joint patrons of NHS Charities Together. The organisation is comprised of 240 NHS member charities that are based within different hospitals, ambulance trusts, community health trusts, mental health trusts and health boards throughout the United Kingdom.
Earlier in the day, The Queen awarded the distinguished George Cross to the NHS in recognition of their work the last seven decades.
Her Majesty expressed in a handwritten note that the prestigious cross was dedicated to all staff past and present for their ‘courage, compassion and dedication’. The Queen also declared to the NHS that the organisation and its staff ‘have our enduring thanks and heartfelt appreciation’.