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Prince Charles and Camilla become first royals to carry out duties in person meeting key workers in Gloucestershire

The couple are staying at nearby Highgrove House

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Emily Nash
Emily Nash - London
Royal EditorLondon
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The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall are among the first members of the royal family to carry out a face-to-face engagement since lockdown began, meeting key workers in Gloucestershire.

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Prince Charles and Camilla made a socially distanced visit to the Gloucestershire Royal Hospital on Tuesday morning, to thank staff who have been working on the frontline of the COVID-19 crisis in person. The meeting took place in the grounds of the hospital in Gloucester, which is about 20 miles from the future King's Highgrove home.

Among those they spoke to were clinicians, volunteers, clinical psychologists, members of the domestic team, senior biomedical scientists, junior doctors, members of the social work team and other frontline workers from the health and care system.

charles camilla gloucester© Photo: PA

Social distance rules were adhered to during the visit

They were welcomed by Deborah Lee, Chief Executive of the Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which has admitted 649 patients with confirmed COVID-19, including 91 patients admitted to critical care. Sadly, 162 of these patients died. As of Monday 15 June, there are just 12 patients with COVID in the Trust's two hospitals, with a further 29 awaiting test results. The county of Gloucestershire has recorded 1,378 COVID-19 cases so far.

charles camilla keyworkers© Photo: PA

Charles and Camilla spoke with a number of keyworkers

During an interview with ITV, the Duchess spoke of her joy at having been able to see her grandchildren again, despite not being able to hug them. Asked if she had been able to see them, if not hug them, she said: "First time last weekend, not hug them, but see them. Great treat." Camilla also said she "would like to shake hands" after meeting the hospital staff from a safe distance.

The Duchess said people's appreciation for the NHS had grown hugely during the crisis, adding: "You can tell by all the people coming out every week to clap. They have done the most remarkable things. They way they have looked after people, they way they have kept control of the whole thing, it’s a question of not panicking, getting on with it and they are Britain at its best.

Asked about the stickers and dots marking out safe distances around the hospital, the Prince laughed: "We're getting used to it."

He said of the visit: "It has been a marvellous opportunity just to have a chance to see people who I know have been doing so much on the front line and having to endure an awful lot of stress and strain in their wonderful way. How they do it, I don’t know.

"But delivering everything in the most effective way and the great thing that they were all saying is that it has brought different departments together in a way that hadn’t always happened before. There has been a great deal of marvellous cooperation, I think."

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charles namaste© Photo: PA

Charles greets one keyworker with a namaste

Although this was their first face-to-face royal engagement since March, the Prince and the Duchess have continued to support their patronages and healthcare workers via messages and video calls from Birkhall, their Scottish home. Charles, who experienced mild symptoms of coronavirus himself, sent his first video message post illness to Age UK, of which he is patron.

In April he opened the first NHS Nightingale hospital via video link, while Camilla sent a message of support to the NHS Volunteer Responders, as President of the Royal Voluntary Service. She also virtually opened the NHS Nightingale North West Hospital in Manchester and along with her husband, took part in a video message thanking nursing staff for International Nurses Day.

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