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Watch Duchess Kate and the Countess of Wessex surprise nurses on special day - video

The royal ladies dialled in from Norfolk and Surrey

Danielle Stacey

The Duchess of Cambridge and Countess of Wessex were among the members of the royal family to pay tribute to nurses around the world as they marked International Nurses' Day on Tuesday amid the coronavirus pandemic.

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WATCH: The royals pay tribute to nurses around the world

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Kate, 38, and Sophie, 55, dialled in from their respective homes in Norfolk and Surrey, to join a video call with nurses in Queensland, Australia, who provide services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. They also spoke with staff at the Aberdeen Women's Centre in Sierra Leone and LV Prasad Eye Institute in India, both of which Sophie has previously visited.

In another Zoom call, they then spoke to HIV and maternal health nurses in Malawi, mental health nurses in the Bahamas, Army nurses in Cyprus and paediatric nurses from the UK's Evelina London Children's Hospital and Community Services, of which Kate is patron.

The Duchess of Cambridge said to the nurses during one conversation: "I don't know how you manage to do this and keep the show on the road despite the extra pressures you’re all under and the challenging conditions – it's just shown how vital the role that nurses play across the world. You should be so proud of the work that you do."

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Kate and Sophie speaking to nurses in Malawi

In one light-hearted moment between the royal women, Sophie joked that that Kate wants to recruit one nurse's teacher wife! 

The joint calls were set up by one of Kate's patronages, Nursing Now, which aims to raise the profile and status of nursing and nurses worldwide. The Duchess of Cambridge also wrote a letter to the organisation on 17 April, which was published on Tuesday, saying: "I wanted to thank the Nursing Now campaign very much for all you are doing to support nurses around the world during this hugely difficult time. 

"The crucial, and often unsung, role that nurses play in global health care is needed now more than ever. In this, the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife, healthcare workers are facing unprecedented challenges in the fight against the global pandemic. Often putting their lives at risk and separating from loved ones to protect them from harm, they are an inspiration to us all. We stand behind all nurses and commend their bravery. 

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Kate became patron of Nursing Now in 2018

"I know you had so many plans for the Nursing Now campaign this year which have sadly had to be postponed. This international crisis has brought into sharp focus how much the global community relies on nurses and all healthcare professionals and it is clear that we will need to continue to champion the nursing profession long after the pandemic has ended. 

"I am here to support you in the future. Thank you for your continued work and I send you my very best wishes for the challenging times ahead."

MORE: Baby joy for the Queen and the British royal family

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The royals spoke to nurses around the world

The Queen led the tributes to nurses around the globe by calling Professor Kathleen McCourt, president of the Commonwealth Nurses and Midwives Federation, from Windsor Castle, to express her admiration for the bravery and dedication of the nursing profession. The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall recorded their own special message of support for the profession, wtih Camilla paying tribute to the Roald Dahl Nurses in a separate video message. The Duchess said: "I know - particularly now - that you make all the difference in the world to these children and their families. Thank you from the bottom of my heart."

Last week, the Duke of Cambridge spoke with nurses at the Royal Marsden, where he is patron, while Princess Anne called the programme manager of a medical ship in Tanzania, which is supported by one of her patronages, the Vine Trust. The Queen's cousin, Princess Alexandra, also chatted with the head of the Naval Nursing Service. 

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