"You all deserve our huge thanks, and you should all be hugely proud of what you have achieved in such a short space of time," said the royal dad

By Simon Perry
April 16, 2020 01:01 PM
Advertisement
Credit: Kensington Palace

Prince William heaped praise on health workers for their “incredible work” amid the coronavirus crisis, saying their “selfless commitment has touched the hearts of the entire nation.”

Opening a new emergency field hospital via video link on Thursday, he said he was with health staff, military and construction workers at Birmingham in “digital spirit.”

William followed in the virtual footsteps of his father Prince Charles. Charles, 71, became the first royal to conduct a virtual opening with the first NHS Nightingale hospital in East London on April 3.

There are several other similar sites planned around the U.K., including in Manchester, Cardiff, Glasgow and Belfast, Northern Ireland.

William told the staff and dignitaries gathered at the exhibition center in Birmingham, “The building you are standing in is yet another example of how people across the country have risen to this unprecedented challenge. The Nightingale hospitals will rightly go down as landmarks in the history of the NHS.”

Prince William opening the new Nightingale hospital in Birmingham on April 16.

Before the event, William chatted with some of the people who had helped create the hospital.

“The NHS Nightingale Hospital Birmingham is a wonderful example of Britain pulling together . . . and, having spoken to some of the people who helped build it, hospitals are about the people and not the bricks. NHS staff, armed forces, local government, and the private sector have collectively stepped up.”

“You all deserve our huge thanks, and you should all be hugely proud of what you have achieved in such a short space of time.”

“I know that the Nightingale Birmingham will provide invaluable resources for hospitals from miles and miles around. This will reassure people across the Midlands that if their local hospitals reach capacity, there will be extra beds available for their loved ones here. I find that very comforting and I know many other people will too.”

Can’t get enough of PEOPLE‘s Royals coverage? Sign up for our free Royals newsletter to get the latest updates on Kate Middleton, Meghan Markle and more!

“I want to thank you for all you are doing to ensure we give the best possible care to those affected at this most challenging of times.”

Thursdays have become a day for thanking the health service and other caregivers in the U.K., with widespread clapping outside homes (including from the royal children Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis), while drivers of emergency service vehicles flash their blue lights in appreciation.