Kate and William heard about the struggles facing frontline workers and praised their hard work during the coronavirus pandemic

By Simon Perry
July 01, 2020 10:30 AM
Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge during a call to a Canadian hospital
Kate Middleton and Prince William make a video call to the Canadian hospital
| Credit: Kensington Palace

Kate Middleton and Prince William hopped across the ocean to celebrate Canada Day — with a little help from technology.

The royal couple talked via video chat to hospital staff in Canada about the mental health challenges they faced during the coronavirus pandemic to mark the country's day of celebration. Kate even paid subtle tribute to the Commonwealth country by sporting red and white, the colors of the nation's flag.

William and Kate, both 38, talked with the staffers at Fraser Health’s Surrey Memorial Hospital in British Columbia and were told about the particular difficulties of providing care throughout the outbreak, including the impact it has had on staff, patients and their families.

After listening to one story about families not being able to support sick patients which she called "hugely heartbreaking to hear," Kate asked, "You guys see that and feel that on a daily basis. How do you manage yourselves? Are you all okay?"

She added, "It's an amazing role that you're playing and a hugely tough one as well. We're in huge admiration of everything you're doing."

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"Catherine and I are proud of all of you and of everyone on the frontline who has led the way very stoically and very bravely, and put patient care right at the top of the list," William told the hospital staff. "You've done a fantastic job."

For one, health care social worker Sandeep "Sunny" Dulai, there have been the additional challenges she has faced as an expectant mother working in the hospital during the pandemic.

"How have you found it, Sunny?" William asked.

She told them that initially things were okay, but "as I got later in my pregnancy and the more the pandemic started to move along, it really did impact my mental health." Because of social distancing and other regulations, she couldn't interact with her supportive siblings because of the crisis.

"Never once felt that I needed to stop working because of the support I got from my team," she added. "We are very close knit . . . and the trust we have in each other and knowing that they are watching out for me helped ease my anxieties."

"Good luck, Sunny, going forward," Kate wished her at the end of the call.

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The couple spent a memorable Canada Day in July 2011, when they joined in the national celebrations during their visit to the country — their first overseas tour as a married couple.

2016 Royal Tour To Canada Of The Duke And Duchess Of Cambridge - Victoria, British Columbia
Prince George, Kate Middleton, Princess Charlotte and Prince William in Canada, 2016
| Credit: Sam Hussein/WireImage

They returned to Canada as a family of four in 2016, bringing along son Prince George and daughter Princess Charlotte (on her first-ever royal tour). The Cambridges brought their children to a party for military families during their visit, where George and Charlotte excitedly played with bubbles and balloon animals.