HRH Prince Charles has opened the new NHS Nightingale Hospital via video link.
It is the first time a member of the royal family has carried out a virtual opening.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock introduced the royal, who delivered a heartfelt opening speech.
Prince Charles said: “Ladies and gentleman, if I may say so, I was enormously touched to have been asked to open the Nightingale Hospital as part of a mass mobilisation to withstand the coronavirus crisis.”
He continued: “It is without doubt a spectacular and almost unbelievable feat of work in every sense. From its speed of construction in just nine days, to it’s size and the skills of those who have created it.”
HRH added it was “an example, if ever one was needed, of how the impossible can be made possible”.
He added: “And how we can achieve the unthinkable through human will and ingenuity.”
Charles continued: “The creation of this hospital is, above all, the result of an extraordinary collaboration and partnership between NHS managers, the military and all those involved to create a centre on a scale that has never been seen before in the United Kingdom.”
He added: “To convert one of the largest national conference centres into a field hospital starting with 500 beds and with a potential for 4,000 is quite frankly incredible.”
Charles also spoke about his battle with coronavirus.
“Now I was one of the lucky ones to have COVID-19 relatively mildly,” he said. “And if I may say so, I am so glad to see the Secretary of State has also recovered.”
He continued: “But for some it will be a much harder journey. I am therefore so relieved that everyone can now have the reassurance they will receive all the necessary technical care they may need and every chance to return to a normal life.”
Charles said the “hospital therefore offered us an intensely practical message of hope” for “those who need it most at this time of national suffering”.
“A very big thank you”
He also asked the British people to “pray” that the hospital will be needed “for as short a time and for as few people as possible”.
Charles also thanked those involved in the creation of the hospital.
I was one of the lucky ones to have COVID-19 relatively mildly.
“On behalf of the nation, I want to say a very big thank you to the planners, the builders, the armed forced, the generous companies and organisations which have donated equipment and services and all the support staff who have made this possible,” he said.
He added: “Also, we owe an immense debt of gratitude to the doctor and nurses, the technicians, the staff currently working in the health service and those coming out of retirement.”
Charles also thanked “the voluntary workers who will be working within it”.
— Sky News (@SkyNews) April 3, 2020
“I can only offer my special thoughts and prayers to all those who will achieve care within it,” he added.
“And let us hope that it will not be too long before this terrible disease has left our land.”
Paying tribute to Florence Nightingale
Charles also explained the importance of the hospital’s name.
“Now I need hardly say but the name of this hospital could not have been more aptly chosen. Florence Nightingale, the lady with the lamp, brought hope and healing to thousands in their darkest hour,” he explained.
“In this dark time, this place will be a shining light. It is symbolic of the selfless care and devoted service taking place in innumerable settings with countless individuals through the United Kingdom,” he said.
The heir to the throne also showed off his sense of humour.
“Ladies and gentleman, as the wonders of modern technology can only do so much and I can’t quite reach, perhaps I could invite Nightingale’s head of nursing Natalie Grey on my behalf to unveil the plaque to declare NHS Nightingale Hospital open.”
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