As the Royal Family take a brave step to return to normality, and meet with NHS staff face-to-face, the Prince of Wales revealed he has still not fully regained his sense of smell and taste despite being clear of the virus months ago. The prince discussed his personal experience with the virus as he met workers at the Gloucestershire Royal Hospital – at a 2m distance.
Prince Charles was accompanied by his wife, the Duchess of Cornwall, who said the staff had showed “Britain at its best”.
It was the couple’s first face-to-face public engagement since lockdown began.
Charles and Camilla met frontline staff and key workers from several NHS trusts.
The royal couple met with consultants, nurses and cleaners, at the hospital situated near Prince Charles’s Highgrove estate.
Social distancing rules were observed on the visits.
Those waiting to meet the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall were standing on yellow dots to ensure they were 2m apart.
Prince Charles greeted some of those he met with a “namaste” – clasping his hands together – instead of a handshake.
Jeff Mills, 47, a healthcare assistant from Cheltenham General Hospital, said: “He did speak of his personal experience, so first-hand experience for him.
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Asked if the country’s appreciation of the NHS has changed for good, the duchess replied: “I think it has, you can tell by all the people coming out every week to clap – they’ve done the most remarkable things.
“The way they’ve looked after people, the way they’ve sort of kept control of the whole thing, you know, it’s a question of not panicking and getting on with it and I think they are Britain at its best.”
The visit was the first time Charles and Camilla had been seen out in months, and royal fans are glad to see the royal couple return to work.
After meeting the staff, Charles said: “It’s been a marvellous opportunity just to have a chance of seeing people I know have been doing so much – literally on the front line.
“And having to endure an awful lot of stress and strain in their wonderful way – how they do it I don’t know.
“But delivering everything in the most effective way.
“And the great thing they were all saying is it’s brought different departments together in a way that hadn’t always happened before, so there’s been a great deal of marvellous co-operation I think.”
Later that day Prince William also got back to face-to face meetings and paid a visit to King’s Lynn Ambulance Station at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
The Norfolk hospital is local to him, close to his and Kate Middleton’s country home of Anmer Hall.
The Duke of Cambridge thanked staff for their dedication – and admitted he’s looking forward to a pint in the pub.
The duke also admitted he’s been busy baking during lockdown, and joked he’s “worried about the waistline of the nation”.
The visits mark the first public outings for any member of the royal family since the start of lockdown on 23 March.