The Duke of Cambridge attended a Service of Thanksgiving on Monday morning for the 73rd anniversary of the National Health Service and in honour of the work their staff has been doing throughout the global health crisis.
Representing the Royal Family, William joined political leaders including UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and chief medical personnel from the NHS, including Sir Simon Stevens, its Chief Executive, for the service at St Paul’s Cathedral.
Among those in attendance included Matron May Parsons, the first person to administer an Oxford Astra Zeneca vaccine dose outside of the clinical trials; NHS staff members who treated the first coronavirus patients in the country; patients who received treatment at the NHS; and other leading figures of the NHS’s pandemic response team.[getty src=”1233814700″ width=”594″ height=”396″]
Sir Stevens said in a speech at the service: “As well as thanksgiving, this is a service of commemoration. But how to mark this terrible pandemic? For some, it is still too soon, too raw, too personal. For others, a need to make sense of our shared experiences. Of extraordinary kindness, compassion, and courage. Quiet stoicism, shared hope, even cautious pride: in science, in new treatments, and in our vaccines. But also our experiences of fear and loss, of vulnerability and loneliness, of anger and regret.
“With over four million lives lost to Covid around the world, we’ve become all too familiar with the daily census of infections and hospitalisations and deaths. But care has no calculus. Each life – unique.”
The Service of Thanksgiving was one of many events planned to honour the NHS on Monday. The Queen announced that the entire NHS would be receiving the George Cross, and William later hosted a Big Tea for the NHS at Buckingham Palace, the first such garden party at the palace since the pandemic began.
The National Medical Director of the NHS England services, Professor Stephen Powis, spoke of his pride in the NHS outside the cathedral, saying: “Of course today The Queen has honoured the NHS by awarding the George Cross to the service across all nations, and I think that really pays tribute to the work that NHS staff have done for those 73 years since 1948, but particularly of course over the last 18 months, which has been the toughest time.”
William had been due to attend the service with Kate but attended solo after his wife was directed to self-isolate after coming into close contact with a person who’d tested positive for COVID-19.
Kensington Palace noted that the Duchess of Cambridge has received her vaccine shots and is not experiencing symptoms herself.