I think the Royal family has an important role to play during this time of uncertainty and a unique opportunity to lead the nation in supporting, highlighting and thanking those on the front lines of the fightback against Covid-19. I thought this visit a very important and timely one, and the first of many we could see in this vein with the appropriate measures in place ensuring all guidelines and precautions are followed.
A notable absence was the usual selection of reporters and photographers who cover engagements. In their place, the couple's photographer, Adam Vallance, took a number of images and official remarks were shared by the Palace.
The couple spent time with staff who have been taking NHS 111 calls from the public and thanked them for their vital work and dedication.
During a group discussion they were told about how members of the public can help alleviate pressure on the system by using advice online on the NHS website before calling. In terms of calls, the team have experienced their three busiest days ever during this week. They are appealing to the public to only call if it is absolutely necessary.
Kate asked staff: "How many extra calls are you getting?" Before adding: "You're doing such a great job, it's amazing." There was a light-hearted moment when a member of the team told William and Kate she previously worked as a telephonist at Buckingham Palace.
More from the Mail:
'Prince William bumped into a former Buckingham Palace telephonist who movingly told him how his late mother used to sneak in and sit with them to answer calls. He spoke to 111 call handler Paula White, who told him about Princess Diana’s hi-jinks and how she even brought William in to see them when he was a baby. He joked: ’Was I behaving myself? A rowdy little child?’
Afterwards Paula said: ’He said ‘Was I well behaved?’ I said, ‘I can’t say sir - the press are here!’ ‘Explaining how Diana used to sneak in to the switchboard room after she was engaged she said: ‘I worked there when his mum was getting married.‘She used to be taking calls with us. I saw the ring! ’He was just a little baby when she brought him down.’ Having a visit from the couple was a big boost for staff morale, she said. ’It’s lovely. It’s like a pat on the back. It just raises morale,’ she said.
She added: ‘It has been quite relentless [although] it’s slowing down now, because I think the public are now realising they can go on the website and get a lot of information from there. ‘Every other day the procedures are changing, but as long as you look at your emails, you’re set to go.
‘There’s a lot of panic at the moment, but if you just reassure them, when they first come through… ‘Do you want an assessment, or do you just want information?’ it tells them the two different guidelines… By the end of it they are happy.’
In a statement from William, the Prince said: "The last few weeks, and more recent days, have been understandably concerning with the continuing spread of coronavirus. But it’s at times like this when we realise just how much the NHS represents the very best of our country and society – people from all backgrounds and walks of life with different experiences and skills, pulling together for the common good. Not only are NHS staff and emergency workers responding to the needs of the public, they – like the rest of us – are concerned about their families, friends and loved ones. They need our support as much as we need theirs."
Prince William continued: "That is why Catherine and I were proud to visit staff working at NHS 111, to pass on our personal thanks, along with those of my grandmother and father, to staff working around the clock to provide care and advice to those that need it most. It was also brilliant to see the great online tools for those with mild symptoms or worries. All of us have a part to play if we’re going to protect the most vulnerable. That means acting on the latest expert advice, staying home if we or those we live with have symptoms, and avoiding non-essential contact to help reduce the spread of the virus."
Garrett Emmerson, CEO, London Ambulance Service said: "Our staff are working incredibly hard in all four of our call centres taking more than twice as many calls as usual. It has therefore been an incredible boost to staff to be able to meet with The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Their Royal Highnesses spoke to some of our 111 call handlers and clinicians who are extraordinarily busy as we work hard to support Londoners and the wider NHS."
The London Ambulance Service takes NHS 111 calls through its control rooms in Croydon and Barking, which have currently been receiving at least five times the usual rate. The London Ambulance Service also operates two 999 control rooms which have been receiving nearly 8,000 calls per day.
A video from the visit.
The appearance of the Duke and Duchess follows the release of a statement by the Queen in which she assured the nation the Royal family was ready to play their part.
The Queen's full statement:
'As Philip and I arrive at Windsor today, we know that many individuals and families across the United Kingdom, and around the world, are entering a period of great concern and uncertainty.
We are all being advised to change our normal routines and regular patterns of life for the greater good of the communities we live in and, in particular, to protect the most vulnerable within them.
At times such as these, I am reminded that our nation’s history has been forged by people and communities coming together to work as one, concentrating our combined efforts with a focus on the common goal.
We are enormously thankful for the expertise and commitment of our scientists, medical practitioners and emergency and public services; but now more than any time in our recent past, we all have a vitally important part to play as individuals - today and in the coming days, weeks and months.
Many of us will need to find new ways of staying in touch with each other and making sure that loved ones are safe. I am certain we are up to that challenge. You can be assured that my family and I stand ready to play our part.'
How long have we been waiting to see the Duchess is a trouser suit, especially in a brighter shade? One of the takeaways from your responses to Wednesday's post is the palpable need for a few moments of light relief amidst the relentless news cycle. I'm sure Kate is aptly aware of that too - aware many avid fashion followers enjoy a sartorial distraction. Whilst the nature of this visit was a serious one, and the incredible work underway the sole purpose, it made me smile to see several readers on social media noting their day had been brightened by the unexpected royal fashion fix. It's the little things right now, right? It's heartening to see Kate supporting the British high street now when businesses are facing unprecedented change. The Duchess also followed in the Queen's footsteps by choosing a brighter colour for the visit and looked fantastic in a polished dark rose Marks & Spencer blazer and slim leg trousers (a great ID by Middleton Maven).
The £99 Wool Blend Double Breasted Blazer is described as: "Tailored fit with added stretch for a figure-defining silhouette. Italian wool-blend fabric creates a luxuriously smooth drape. Contrast button fastening."
The matching £59 Wool Blend Cropped Trousers features a zip, hook and bar fastening. Front pintucks and two functional side pockets.
Kate teamed the suit with a pair of Hugo Boss grey embossed leather pumps she's had for several years.
Before I sign off, I want to thank all of you for your kind wishes, comment suggestions and supporting comments to one another. I greatly appreciate each one; they will provide a little distraction and a healthy dose of royal fun in the weeks and months ahead. Stay safe for the weekend and continue to follow all precautions.