Sunday, 5 July 2020

William & Kate Celebrate NHS Staff During Norfolk Tea Party

From the very earliest days of the pandemic - before we began to see a rise in infections and very sadly so many fatalities - there was some comfort in the knowledge we were so lucky to have the National Health Service. NHS staff on the front lines set to work immediately, despite the risks and knowing they would spend long hours away from their families, giving each and every patient an excellent standard of care. I remember in April hearing a young doctor on the news: she was exhausted, hungry, emotionally drained and, after losing a patient to the virus that day, could barely take a moment before stepping back into the chaos, knowing she needed to be on top of her game for those in her care. Their selfless dedication has been a beacon of light throughout some very dark days.

We owe them a debt of gratitude we can never repay, but we can certainly try. I was delighted to see the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge at an afternoon tea party celebrating staff at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn, Norfolk today. Given its proximity to Sandringham, the hospital has welcomed several members of the Royal family over the years. In 1998, the Queen Mother was treated there for a fractured hip, and in 2002, the Queen was seen for a knee complaint.

William and Kate drove from Anmer Hall and were photographed using hand-sanitiser upon arrival.

In addition to celebrating seventy-two years of the NHS, the hospital marked its 40th anniversary.

William and Kate spent time with Suzie Vaughan, an operating department practitioner at QEH, who spent nine weeks away from her family during the pandemic.

Suzie's emotional video of her reunion with daughters Bella and Hettie went viral and touched hearts all over the world.

Suzie said: "It was a difficult decision but I wanted to keep the girls safe so they moved in with my sister. I worked on the COVID Intensive Treatment Unit and COVID Emergency Department during the pandemic. The past three months have been exhausting physically and emotionally and The Duke and Duchess’s visit is a recognition of the hard work and compassion that everybody has put in to keep our patients safe."

More on the meeting:

'The duke told Hettie and Bella “I love your dresses”, while the duchess told them: “You girls look really pretty.” Kate asked if they had missed their mum while she was working, and added: “It is a real treat to meet you both.” Ms Vaughan, an operating department practitioner, said: “They both always wanted to meet a real life princess.”
The couple also spoke to Sam Jude, 30, a nurse at the hospital, who came down with coronavirus in May. “I told them the hospital were like my family as my real family were 6,000 miles away in India,” he said. “They checked in on me all the time and I told them that and they were impressed.”

COVID-19 survivors Samuel Jude and Blessy George shared their experiences with the couple.

They spoke with medical director Frankie Swords about the logistical operation underway since March.

Chief Executive Caroline Shaw CBE accompanied the royal couple, describing it as "just an amazing afternoon". Guest Julie tweeted: "They were so lovely, taking their time to speak to some of the guests who were on the front-line during Covid." Hello! reports the couple told staff: "Everyone appreciates what you do. The NHS is a fantastic organisation."

They were also given keyrings for the children. Below, a great video from the party.

Professor Steve Barnett, said: "The past few months have been incredibly challenging for everyone at QEH, and for the wider NHS, as we have responded to this global pandemic. I could not be more proud of how our staff have responded – always putting patients and their safety first. As the nation celebrates the NHS's 72nd birthday and we mark our own hospital’s 40th anniversary, today’s visit by The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge is a testament to the high regard we all have for those who care for us when we need it the most. Both our staff and the local community, who have given us so much support over the past few months, should be rightly proud of themselves. We have an incredibly special relationship with our local community in West Norfolk, and today's clap was about saying thank you for the unrivalled support we have received in recent months, for which we could not be more grateful."

The Duke and Duchess departing.

A very brief departure video.

The Royal Parks prepared a very special thank you.

The Duchess was elegant in Beulah London's Shalini floral-print silk midi dress.

The sold-out piece is described: "Beulah's navy dress is digitally printed with a charming floral pattern that is contrasted with a white point collar and matching cuffs – typically ladylike nuances from the label. It's made in England with a fitted bodice followed by a flared skirt, then cinched at the waist with a coordinating belt."

The digital floral print.

A view of the dress in motion from Beulah London.

Kate accessorised with the striking £2,400 Ocean Tides Milky Quartz Earrings in 18ct Gold by Patrick Mavros. Inspired by colours of the Indian Ocean with "expertly set and polished stones [dangling] elegantly from carefully crafted sea urchins". A word of thanks to the Royal Ladies via Twitter.

Kate completed the look with a pair of navy suede pumps. They look like her Rupert Sanderson Malory suede pumps.

To all of our readers who have served on the front lines, I know I speak for every single one of us when I say a heartfelt thank you.

Wednesday, 1 July 2020

The Cambridges Celebrate Canada Day

Happy Canada Day to all celebrating! The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge marked the day with a video call to staff at Surrey Memorial Hospital in British Colombia during which they heard about staff experiences during the pandemic and their thoughts on how this monumental change has affected them and their families. The call took place last week with the Cambridges Zooming in (we've been saying Zooming in instead of Dialing in amongst my family of late) from Anmer Hall.

Kensington Palace said: "On Canada Day we say thank you to frontline workers across the country for your amazing work protecting and supporting your communities. À l'occasion de la fête du #Canada, nous remercions les travailleurs de première ligne à travers tout le pays pour votre travail extraordinaire de protection et de soutien de vos collectivités."

More from the Evening Standard:

'The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, speaking from Anmer Hall, heard from six-months-pregnant health care social worker Sunny Dulai about the challenges she faced during the pandemic, with a smiling Kate telling her: "Good luck Sunny going forward ... with your new baby."
The duke had asked: "Sunny, is it right in saying a little birdie says you're expecting in September? How have you found it? How has it been working?"

Sunny spoke of the immense challenges telling the couple: "Initially I was like, 'no, I can do this', emotionally, it wasn't really impacting me. Then, as I got later in my pregnancy and the more the pandemic started to move along, it really did impact my mental health. I felt like I was angrier because I didn't have the support networks at home that I typically have." She added: "I never once felt that I needed to stop working where I work, because of the support I got from my team." The couple praised their "fantastic" efforts and said they hope to meet them in person in the future. Kate added she has "huge admiration" for all they've done.

The Daily Mail reports:

'The duchess described it as 'heartbreaking' when she heard that a patient's wife had sung to him from a phone held in a bag as staff did their utmost to keep loved ones connected during the crisis. Kate said: 'That's heartbreaking to hear. You guys see that and feel that on a daily basis. How do you manage yourself? Are you all OK?'
The couple had been told of the distress experienced by patients and their families who were separated from one another. William asked: 'Have you guys had to pick up a lot of the emotion, that feeling, and be there to support the patients?' 

Royal fans will remember nine years ago William and Kate marked Canada Day on Parliament Hill as part of their electric tour of the country as newlyweds. I recall that time in royal watching particularly fondly, as there was a shared air of excitement and anticipation surrounding the first tour.

The Duchess wore her cream ruffled Reiss dress from the engagement photos with a red hat with maple detail by Sylvia Fletcher, Kiki McDonough Grace earrings, Asprey pendant, the Fan Clutch by Anya Hindmarch and Hobbs London Albini court shoes. It was completed with the Queen's Maple Leaf brooch. It remains one of Kate's best looks in my opinion.

Laura suggests Kate's red tweed dress is a bespoke Alexander McQueen piece. The structured shoulders and design do seem a very solid match. Below, the Short-Sleeve Tweed Shift Dress. Kate's could very well be a custom version of this.


Yesterday, on what would have been the opening day of Wimbledon, the Duchess of Cambridge narrated a video telling listeners a much-awaited return to the normal schedule next year will be "worth the wait".

"We will bide our time until we sit at the edge of our seats again, and celebrate again. So, when the time is right, and we open the gates, we will be back again, and it will have been worth the wait."

Before we close, I'm excited to share news I'm writing the Royal Digest blog again. It's very much going to offer a variety of coverage focusing on European and other British royals. There will be a strong emphasis on the work with fashion, history and of course all things sparkly. COVID-19 has changed the landscape of royal watching and indeed royal blogging. I expect it could be some time before we see the traditional royal calendar return and the usual events such as tours, 'away days', walkabouts and much more. It seemed the like the right time to expand. Coverage on 'Duchess Kate' will continue as normal here. If you would like to pop over, please click here.

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