Prince Charles attended an important 70th birthday bash in Wales on Thursday morning. The U.K.’s National Health Service just turned another year older, hitting the big 7-0 just four months before Charles himself will!
Charles opted to celebrate the occasion at a garden party in Ysbyty Aneurin Bevan, a 107-bed hospital that opened in 2010 and was named after the founder of the NHS. Aneurin Bevan is credited with establishing free healthcare in the U.K., the guiding principle of the NHS.
Charles arrived at the hospital to cheers from local school children and staff. He also made a group of women laugh when he asked if they all had their babies here. “Oh no, sir, we’re all in our 50s!” one chuckled. The group told him they work in the mental health department, and he complimented them on “a fantastic job.”
Strolling past the minor injury department, the future king came face-to-face with a skeleton known as Elvis the Pelvis.
“What have you done to this?” he joked as he pointed at the bones.
Charles also bonded with a clinical specialist in physiotherapy. After Jessica Thomas, 33, tried to tempt him onto her exercise bike, Charles responded “No, thank you, not today,” and told her a story about his own experience with physiotherapy.
“He told us about how he’d broken his arm when he was playing polo once,” Thomas shared. “He was caught between two horses, and he had a wonderful physio then who told him to always keep moving. He came home with a sling and the physio told him first of all to get rid of the sling and to keep moving. He was saying how important it is to keep everybody moving. I said absolutely — it is the key to life.”
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Turning to more serious issues, Charles learned about the hospital’s efforts to combat obesity in low-income areas. The program’s director, Dee Puckett, told him how they help people buy fruits and vegetables instead of alcohol and sweets.
“We were talking about how these days the food that’s worst for you is cheapest,” Puckett said. “He said … that the best food for you should be cheaper.”
Toward the end of Prince Charles’ visit, there was a surprising reunion. He bumped into a cleaner who had met him more than 30 years ago — when he visited a factory where she worked.
“I told him that I put my arm out to stop him from leaning against a fence that had just been painted,” Sandra Robinson, 59, recalled. “I stopped him from getting a black mark on his gray suit. He said ‘I remember that!’ And he’s wearing a gray suit again today!”
During his visit, a jovial Charles also chatted with ambulance crews, nurses and elderly patients, and before he left, he had the honor of cutting the birthday cake.