"I’m very impressed by what you have achieved," the Queen tells unpaid caregivers in the video

By Simon Perry
June 11, 2020 08:35 AM
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Queen Elizabeth takes part in video call with caregivers
Kensington Palace

Queen Elizabeth has taken part in her first public video call to salute unpaid caregivers who do so much for their families and their communities across the U.K.

The Queen, 94, is seen in the video, released by Buckingham Palace on Thursday, alongside her daughter, Princess Anne, praising the caregivers who told the Queen about their backgrounds and their own personal experiences.

“Interesting listening to all your tales and stories. I’m very impressed by what you have achieved already,” the Queen says. “I am very glad to have been able to join you today."

They took part in the call to mark Carers Week, highlighting the work that seven million people – including children — do across the country to help those close to them. With vulnerable people isolating at home during the coronavirus pandemic, many carers have taken on new responsibilities.

In the half-hour chat, which took place about a week ago, the Queen and the Princess Royal heard from Alex, Amna, Mary and Nadia — who are all the primary carers for family members — along with the chief executive of the Carers Trust, Gareth Howells.

“Her Majesty was very keen to understand the stories of each of the carers. She shared a lot and asked questions about the support they are currently getting as unpaid carers. She was keen to understand how the coronavirus has impacted them as such,” Howells tells PEOPLE.

The Queen (middle) and Princess Anne (top right)
Kensington Palace

“It was a real privilege. The Princess Royal has long been a supporter of the Carers Trust and is always passionate and knowledgeable about unpaid carers. But to be able to have the greater profile of Her Majesty joining the call as well, to raise the awareness of unpaid carers during Carers Week, was really crucial," he says. "The carers were nervous enough to have the Princess Royal but to be told a few days before that Her Majesty would be joining us was really nerve-wracking but they loved the unique opportunity to raise the profile of carers across the U.K. as well."

Howells continues, “It was a really useful discussion. All of them were surprised by the engagement. They weren’t just there to get a photo opportunity. It was good to see the Royal Family take an interest in such an important piece of work.”

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip at Windsor Castle
Steve Parsons/PA

Other members of the royal family, led by Prince William, Kate Middleton and Prince Charles, have made it a central part of their work while under lockdown to keep in contact with their causes and charities through technology like video calls. But the public video call was a first for Her Majesty — though, Howells says that he thinks the Queen was adept at the new technology.

“She was engaging. The Princess Royal has done a few and was more comfortable but the Queen was perfectly comfortable with the camera in front of her," he says. "A couple more times and she’ll be a dab hand at it!”

Kate Middleton and Prince William during their volunteer week calls
Kensington Palace

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The charity was originally known as The Princess Royal Trust for Carers as Anne set it up to recognize and support carers across the UK. In 2012, it was changed to be known as Carers Trust, and she remains its President.

In an earlier message, Anne said, “If you are an unpaid family carer, thank you so much for everything you do for those who cannot care for themselves. This Carers Week, and always, please know that your role is a vital one; one to be highlighted and celebrated, and one that should never be forgotten.”