Prince Charles, 71, has paid tribute to the “costly sacrifices” made by doctors, nurses, paramedics and other healthcare workers during the coronavirus pandemic. The heart to the throne also praised the “renewal of our community spirit” seen throughout the lockdown, as Britons rushed to help those most vulnerable.
He also thanked key workers for playing such a vital role during the pandemic, and the nation for adhering to the lockdown rules.
Charles, who tested positive for COVID-19 in March, made the comments in a heartfelt video message celebrating the NHS’s anniversary.
He said: “Despite all that has been endured, there is deep cause for gratitude, and a true reason for pride.”
The NHS was launched on July 5, 1948 by former Labour health minister Aneurin Bevan when he opened Manchester’s Trafford General Hospital as the first NHS institution.
From that day healthcare became free to all and the NHS took control of 480,000 hospital beds in England and Wales, including an estimated 125,000 nurses and 5,000 consultants.
The launch of the new health service was based on recommendations in the 1942 Beveridge report which called for a state welfare system.
According to William Beveridge, the document’s author, a nationalised health service was just one way Britain could help beat want, disease, ignorance, squalor and idleness.
In his pre-recorded message, Prince Charles said: “After more than seven decades, that founding principle, though now familiar, is still a profoundly moving statement of our values – and it has never been more relevant than it is now.
JUST IN: Prince Charles issues important message ahead of pubs reopening
He said: “Of course, our whole society has risen to this extraordinary challenge: from the farmers, fruit and vegetable pickers, delivery drivers and shop workers who provided our food, to the energy workers who kept the lights on, the transport staff and the public servants and business people who continued to provide vital services.
“Every new difficulty has been met with a new solution.
“Countless volunteers have come forward to help those in greatest need and, of course, all have had their part to play by heeding the official advice to help stop the spread of this cruel virus.
“This renewal of our community spirit has been a silver lining during this dark time.”
The Prince, who met NHS workers when he visited a hospital in Gloucester last month, added: “During these past months, the phrase ‘to shield’ has taken on an emphasis it did not have before.
“But while the meaning may be new, the principle of protection for those in need is timeless.”