William and Kate enjoy afternoon tea at Norfolk hospital for NHS anniversary
- Credit: PA
As the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn hosted a celebration of 72 years of the National Health Service, Prince William and wife Kate Middleton joined members of staff for a special afternoon tea.
The visit, which also tied in with the hospital’s own 40th anniversary this month, saw the Duke and Duchess speak with staff members and volunteers who have helped the QEH cope during the pandemic.
Among those they spoke to was operating department practitioner Suzie Vauaghan, who spent nine weeks apart from her daughters Hettie and Bella, seven and nine, during the lockdown.
She said: “The past three months have been exhausting physically and emotionally and the visit is a recognition of the hard work and compassion that everybody has put in to keep our patients safe.”
The pair were not accompanied by their children, Princess Charlotte and Princes George and Louis for the visit, which also saw them thank key workers who are continuing to provide crucial support in the national response to the pandemic.
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The royal visit came on the same day that people across the nation reprised the Clap for Carers gesture at 5pm to applaud key workers and mark the 72nd anniversary of the NHS.
Steve Barnett, chairman of the QEH hospital trust, said: “The past few months have been incredibly challenging to everyone at the QEH and for the wider NHS. I could not be more proud of how our staff have responded - always putting patients and their safety first.
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“As the nation celebrates the NHS’s 72nd anniversary and we mark our own hospital’s 40th, today’s visit by The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge is a testament to the high regard we have for those who care for us when they need it the most.”
The visit came just two days after the duke dropped in on the Rose and Crown pub in Snettisham to show his support for local traders as they prepared to return to business for the first time since March.
Here, he spoke with landlords of 25 years Jeannette and Anthony Godrich about the challenges businesses were facing through lockdown and the measures they had taken to re-open.
The family has been spending the pandemic at their country retreat at Anmer Hall in the Sandringham Estate, from which they have conducted a number of royal engagements via video link.
His father, Prince Charles, marked the anniversary with a recorded message for NHS staff, praising their work throughout the pandemic.
In it, he said: “Despite all that has been endured, there is a deep cause for gratitude and a real reason for pride.
“The current pandemic means that the NHS - and the entire country - has been through the most testing time in the service’s history.”