The Prince of Wales made history as he opened the NHS Nightingale Hospital in London via video link from his Scottish home, Birkhall, on Friday. Prince Charles, 71, is the first of his family to carry out a royal opening remotely, amid the coronavirus lockdown in the UK.
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WATCH: Prince Charles opens NHS Nightingale Hospital by video link
The heir to the throne paid tribute to all those who have worked tirelessly to create the new medical facility at the ExCel conference centre in East London, calling it a "spectacular and unbelievable feat of work". He said: "On behalf of the nation, I want to say a very big thank you to the planners, the builders, the Armed Forces, the generous companies and organisations which have donated equipment and services, and all the support staff, who have made this possible. Also we owe an immense debt of gratitude to the doctors, the nurses, the technicians, the staff – currently working in the health service and those coming out of retirement – and the voluntary workers who will be working within it. I can only offer my special thoughts and prayers to all those who will receive care within it and let us hope that it will not be too long before this terrible disease has left our land."
The Prince added he was "enormously touched" to have been asked to officially open the hospital before handing over to Natalie Grey, Head of Nursing at the NHS Nightingale, who unveiled a plaque on his behalf to mark the new centre's official opening. A small group representing medical staff, the Ministry of Defence, contractors and volunteers joined the Secretary of State for Health & Social Care, Matt Hancock, and Professor Charles Knight, Chief Executive of NHS Nightingale, at the entrance to the new hospital.
Earlier this week, Clarence House confirmed that the Prince of Wales was in "good health" and was out of isolation after seven days, following his coronavirus diagnosis. The Duchess of Cornwall, whose test came back negative, remained in isolation at Birkhall for the rest of the week.
MORE: Prince Charles opens up about coronavirus experience - watch video
NHS Nightingale Hospital London at the ExCel Centre
Although he suffered from mild symptoms of the virus, Charles described it as a "strange, frustrating and often distressing experience". The Prince recorded a video message on Tuesday at his Scottish home, in support of Age UK in response to the coronavirus health crisis.
NHS Nightingale is a new hospital which will provide support for thousands more patients with coronavirus. Based at the ExCeL conference centre in East London, it will initially provide up to 500 beds equipped with ventilators and oxygen. The capacity will then continue to increase, potentially up to several thousand beds, should it be required.
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