Prince Harry's first stop of a busy day in Sheffield was to the Sheffield Children's Hospital to officially open a new wing and meet young patients

By Stephanie Petit
July 25, 2019 06:22 AM

The first stop of Prince Harry‘s busy day in Sheffield included a sweet connection to his late mother, Princess Diana.

The Duke of Sussex, who welcomed his son Archie with Meghan Markle on May 6, visited the Sheffield Children’s Hospital on Thursday to officially open its new wing. He signed the visitors book, which Diana also signed during a Nov. 1989 visit to the hospital.

Harry met Julie Austin, nurse who worked at the hospital for 34 years and had a chance to meet Diana during her visit 30 years ago.

“I had a patient that I looked after and had chosen to be in the line to meet her. She was late going round, because she stopped to talk to everybody. She was wonderful,” Austin recalled of Princess Diana.

However, Austin’s patient was more concerned with dinner than meeting royalty.

“By the time she got to meet my patient, Tom, all he said in his thick Yorkshire accent was, ‘I’m hungry. I want me dinner,’ ” she said. “She went, ‘Pardon?’ He went, ‘I’m hungry, I want me dinner.’ So she and I were laughing, and she said, ‘I’m so sorry, have I made him late for dinner?’ ”

Austin wanted to tell Prince Harry about his mom — however, she was wearing the costume for the hospital’s mascot, Theo! So instead, she penned a letter to Harry to share her good memories.

When they met, “He came across and said, ‘I hear you met my mum.’ I said, ‘I did, she was wonderful.’ He said, ‘Can I give you a hug?’ So we had a hug. I was crying inside the costume. He was lovely. He was absolutely like his mum.”

Prince Harry
| Credit: Chris Jackson/Getty Images
Prince Harry
| Credit: Chris Jackson/Getty Images

While meeting young patients, nearly 2-year-old Noah Nicholson was fascinated by the prince’s orange beard.

Noah, who has spent most of his life in hospital after being born at 27 weeks, gave the beard a tug when Harry leaned in close to him.

“Have you never seen a beard before?” said Harry.

Just as Prince Harry was complimenting Noah’s good behavior to the boy’s mom, Tracy, Noah threw away his shoe and hit the royal with his toy giraffe. However, Harry playfully placed the animal on Noah’s head.

Tracy said of Harry’s visit, “It was lovely, wasn’t it? He was really good with the children. He was really approachable.”

Credit: Chris Jackson/Getty Images

Harry, 34, also met patients and their families, including children enjoying the new play room. His visit also included a stop in the plaster room, where children can design their casts with different colors, glitter and characters to make their experience more fun.

Credit: Chris Jackson/Getty Images
Credit: Chris Jackson/Getty Images

The hospital was only Prince Harry’s first stop of the day. After unveiling a plaque at the new wing, he will head to Sheffield Hallam University to learn about their commitment to applied learning in teaching and research. He met academics and students demonstrating a virtual reality rehabilitation project, which uses technology to make it easier for amputees to train themselves to use prosthetic limbs. Harry will also meet academics and students working with the World Health Organization and the United Nations, who have developed innovative new technology to provide alerts and assistance to field staff working in inhospitable and dangerous parts of the world, and engineering students who will present a race car they built.

For his final stop of the day, Prince Harry will head to the Invictus UK Trials, where athletes will compete for a spot on Team UK at the 2020 Invictus Games at The Hague in the Netherlands.

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At the English Institute of Sport Sheffield, the Duke of Sussex will meet wheelchair basketball competitors, then cheer on powerlifting competitors from the stands with friends and family before meeting the competitors and taking part in the medal presentation. Afterwards, Harry will join the swimming medal presentation ceremony, before meeting family and friends of the competitors.