After visiting first responders of the suicide bombing at an Ariana Grande concert at Manchester Arena on Friday, Prince William privately visited Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital, where several young victims are being treated — some in intensive care — following the terrorist attack on May 22.
The royal’s visit was unannounced and away from the cameras so that he and the families could meet in private.
William was taken around by Caroline Rushmer, a major trauma specialist practitioner, who tells PEOPLE, “He sat down and talked to each family about their experiences and what had happened, how they’d felt about things and what emotions they’d gone through and about their children’s injuries and how they’re progressing. He really empathized with them.”
The 40-minute visit with about a dozen people was private and no names or details of the injuries suffered were given.
The royal dad spent time with three children and their families. “He was very good at laughing and joking. You can see he’s a parent,” Rushmer says.
He put them at ease by “asking them about their interests and was aware that quite a lot of them had a lot of treats and things and was talking about how moms and dads were managing that. You can tell he’s a parent,” she adds.
And the prince’s visit has helped morale.
“It certainly helps the parents and helps them feel somebody empathizes with them,” Rushmer says. “They were all very excited to meet him and his visit meant a lot to them. His visit has meant a lot to the staff, too. It’s nice to get the recognition for the hard work that whole teams have been doing for these past weeks.”
Twenty-two people died and more than 100 were injured when a device carried by Salman Abedi, 22, was detonated just as the first concertgoers were leaving the Manchester Arena last month.
William emerged outside to cheers from well-wishers who had gathered outside hearing that he was at the hospital.
Pamela Azicate, a member of the patient experience team at the hospital, was among the crowd and says, “He was telling people about the nurses he met inside and what a great job everyone was doing. We thanked him for coming and gracing the children’s hospital.”
The prince was following his grandmother Queen Elizabeth’s lead, as she made a visit to the city last Thursday, just days after the attack. During her heartwarming visit, she chatted with young victims in their hospital beds, condemning the barbaric act as “very wicked.”