Prince Charles officially launched the new NHS Nightingale Hospital in London this morning. But he did while so respecting the social distancing rules issued by the Government.
Remaining at his Scottish home in Birkhall, the Prince of Wales delivered a touching speech via video link, a move deemed unprecedented and historic by one royal commentator.
The Daily Mail’s royal correspondent Rebecca English wrote on Twitter: “This is unprecedented and historic.
“Prince Charles, Duke of Rothesay, will this morning open the new NHS Nightingale Hospital in London via video link from his home at Birkhall in Scotland #royal #coronavirus #NightingaleHospital.”
In his speech, Prince Charles acknowledged he has been “one of the lucky ones” who only suffered from a mild form of coronavirus.
He said: “I was one of the lucky ones to have had COVID-19 relatively mildly.”
But the Prince of Wales highlighted how many others across the country may need further help from health professionals before they get better.
And the NHS Nightingale hospital will serve this purpose, the prince added.
He said: “For some, it will be a much harder journey.
“I am relieved that we can have the reassurance everyone can have the care they need and chances to return to a normal life.”
While all senior royals are now carrying out their royal duties using their phone and video chats, this is the first time a member of the British Royal Family carriers out a public engagement from his home with the help of technology.
Natalie Grey, the head of nursing at the new hospital dedicated only to COVID-19 patients, was asked by Prince Charles to unveil the plaque on his behalf.
Joking, Prince Charles said: “As the wonders of modern technology can do so much, I can’t quite reach over.”
In his speech, delivered remotely, 71-year-old Prince Charles also paid tribute to those who have worked tirelessly to create the new medical facility in less than two weeks.
He also praised the frontline staff across the UK delivering care to people affected by the coronavirus crisis.
Only a small group of expert physically attended the ceremony at the new NHS hospital, which is a conversion of the ExCeL conference centre in east London.
Among them, there was the health secretary, Matt Hancock, who also tested positive for coronavirus in late March, and Prof Charles Knight, the chief executive of the NHS Nightingale.
The hospital will initially provide up to 500 beds equipped with ventilators and oxygen, a capacity which will increase within the next few weeks.
Sir Simon Stevens, chief executive at NHS England, called the effort made to build this new hospital at a time of crisis “nothing short of exceptional”.
He added: “Now we are gearing up to repeat that feat at another four sites across the country to add to the surge capacity in current NHS hospitals.
“We’re giving the go ahead to these additional sites, hoping they may not be needed but preparing in case they are.
“But that will partly depend on continuing public support for measures to reduce growth in the infection rate by staying at home to save lives.”
Prince Charles tested positive for coronavirus last week after having experienced mild symptoms.
But the Prince of Wales hasn’t let the virus prevent him from carrying out his royal duties, and has continued to work from his desk throughout his seven-day long isolation period.
Earlier this week, after his doctors allowed him to leave the self-isolation, Prince Charles delivered a powerful speech from his office at Birkhall.
The Prince of Wales spoke about the self-isolation period as a “strange, frustrating and often distressing experience” which separates individuals from their family and friends.
Prince Charles also thanked frontline workers, not just NHS staff but also all those allowing society to carry out with its life as normally as possible at this time of crisis, such as supermarket workers.
The prince concluded with a message of hope, saying: “None of us can say when this will end, but end it will.
“Until it does, let us try and live with hope and with faith in ourselves and each other.
“Look forward to better times to come.”