Yesterday the Duke and Duchess visited a London Ambulance Service call center in Croydon, South London.
This took place before today’s announcement from the Prime Minister that restaurants, bars, cinemas, gyms, and other entities are to close. It may well be the last time we see the couple for some time.
The Daily Mail’s Rebecca English shared a video of the royals arriving.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have become the first royals to visit coronavirus frontline health workers, as they met staff at a London NHS 111 call centre. pic.twitter.com/QC5U8hNbQB
— Rebecca English (@RE_DailyMail) March 20, 2020
Richard Palmer of The Express explains that reporting on the visit “was embargoed by the palace until tonight, partly to avoid clashing with the Queen’s message yesterday. There are also concerns about crowds gathering if royal visits are reported live.” (More on the Queen’s message in a different section of this post.)
Richard shared a video of the couple arriving inside.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visited the London Ambulance Service 111 control room in Croydon, south London, to thank staff taking National Health Service 111 calls from the public during Britain’s #coronavirus crisis. pic.twitter.com/Hhv7wsJFfG
— Richard Palmer (@RoyalReporter) March 20, 2020
The Daily Mirror notes in its story that “…the couple became the first members of the Royal Family to visit workers on the front line battling the coronavirus pandemic at a 111 call centre in south London.” They met ambulance staff and 111 call handlers; they also wanted to thank the workers for the critical work they are doing. (The 111 service offers advice and assistance; 999 is for emergency calls.)
Simon Perry reports in his People article that “They sat down with some staff and toured the control room — keeping in mind the advice from the government and health service about social distancing — and heard how people can help alleviate pressure on the calling system by accessing official advice available online at nhs.uk/coronavirus.”
In her Daily Mail story, Rebecca English reports, “There was frequent hand-sanitising, a conscious effort to socially distance themselves from people, and no handshakes.”
Richard Palmer also posted a video of the couple chatting with staff members.
William: “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.” pic.twitter.com/eUlA4Z68YU
— Richard Palmer (@RoyalReporter) March 20, 2020
More from Rebecca English’s story: “During a conversation with a group of staff, which saw William and Kate sitting more than two metres from everyone else to show the importance of social distancing, Euan Flood, 34, a paramedic, told them how the 111 service was ‘incredibly busy’.
He said: ‘We are getting calls one after the other. Currently we have a few hundred calls waiting to be called back, anything from a day to two, three days old. We are finding that people are quite understanding when we call them back.
‘They are quite accepting that they know it’s busy, they know it’s going to be a long time. We try and get through them as quickly as we can, but safely as well.’
He added later: ‘We are hearing a lot of panic about self-isolation. People don’t really understand the guidance, so we have to explain it to them fairly regularly. But once we explain it, people tend to understand why we are advising it.’
More from Rebecca’s story:
Kate asked how many of the calls reflected people’s mental health issues. Mr Emmerson said: ‘Quite a large volume. People with mental health issues are more concerned about coronavirus and how to manage that.’
Dr Nortley-Meshe said that other patients on regular medication were concerned that they would continue to get the drugs they needed. ‘There has become a significant panic around making that if people are going to self-isolate, that they are prepared. All of those kinds of cares and concerns. That is adding to the workload.’
After the visit William said, “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.”
A fun side note about the engagement comes via this Telegraph story by Hannah Furness:
“During the tour, the Duke also met Paula White, who turned out to be a former telephonist at Buckingham Palace who met him when he was a baby.
He joked: “Was I behaving myself? A rowdy little child?”
Now for our look at what Kate wore for yesterday’s engagement, pieces by British retailer Marks and Spencer.
Both pieces are made of a blend of poly/viscose/wool with a touch of elastane for stretch. The double-breasted blazer features a tailored design with external darts with topstitching, welt pockets, contrasting buttons, and a polyester lining. The trousers have a front zipper, waistband, double belt loops and topstitched front crease. Many thanks to Middleton Maven for the ID on this! The Duchess accessorized with heels by Hugo Boss that we first saw at a November 2016 Natural History Museum event. The style is the “Staple P90-L” in embossed leather in a colorway officially called ‘anthracite.’ We show them below as worn at that 2016 event with a small inset photo from yesterday’s engagement.
It looks like Kate could have been wearing a tee first worn for a 2015 visit to an RAF base in Cyprus.
She also appeared to be wearing her UFO earrings, shown below as worn to previous engagements.
UPDATE: It looks like Kate was not wearing the UFO earrings, but a new pair. Laila suggests in a comment the Duchess was wearing the Daniella Draper hoops that she wore in Ireland with the shamrock charms. I think Laila could well be onto something!
Now for updates and headlines on the Coronavirus and the royal family. Yesterday the Queen headed to Windsor Castle where she was joined by Prince Philip; they are expected to stay there for some time. A statement from HM about the continuing crisis was released yesterday by Buckingham Palace.
On a related note, you may recall the launch of the National Emergencies Trust in November of last year.
The Duke and Duchess were on hand for that official launch.
The trust is a disaster relief charity designed to provide the public with a single, trustworthy donation point during domestic disasters. This week the charity launched a fund to help those impacted by the coronavirus.
More from this Telegraph story, quoting Prince William:
“I said at its launch last year that I dreaded the day when it would be needed. Sadly, with the outbreak of Covid-19, that day has come faster than any of us would have hoped.
“But now, more than ever, I am grateful that The National Emergencies Trust exists. It will ensure that support reaches those across the UK who need it most, as quickly and efficiently as possible. And it will help to ensure that all our efforts to overcome this challenge are channelled in the best possible way.”
That quote comes from this fundraising video.
Other developments of note this week:
- Prince George and Princess Charlotte will be homeschooled starting Monday; Thomas’s Battersea is switching to online learning as schools in the UK are closed.
- This week’s guidance that those over age 70 stay home includes HM, the Duke of Edinburgh, the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall.
- Princess Beatrice’s wedding reception at Buckingham Palace has been canceled and it’s possible (likely in my opinion) the wedding itself may be rescheduled for a future date.
- Many other ‘royal events’ have been postponed or canceled, including the Royal Windsor Horse Show and Chelsea Flower Show, as well as the visit from the Emperor and Empress of Japan. It’s expected the Invictus Games, originally scheduled for The Hague in May, will take place next year.
I will see you next week with a look back at Kate wearing…tiaras!
London Ambulance posted a quick recap of the visit running just a bit more than a minute.
— London Ambulance Service (@Ldn_Ambulance) March 20, 2020
Here is the Royal Family Channel’s video of yesterday’s visit.
- A Kensington Royal Instagram post on the visit is here; the National Emergencies Trust site is here
- The Daily Mail story is here; The Daily Mirror piece is here; The Telegraph’s story about the Emergencies Trust Fund is here; its story about yesterday’s engagement is here; Simon Perry’s People story is here;