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Monday 13th July 2020

Coronavirus: Duke and Duchess of Cambridge praise NHS staff as they make surprise visit to 111 call centre

First royals to visit frontline health staff

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge praised NHS workers as they made a surprise visit to a 111 call centre in London.

The couple headed to the NHS 111 call centre in Croydon yesterday (March 21) as the number of UK coronavirus cases continued to soar.

Kate and William are the first members of the royal family to visit frontline health workers during the COVID-19 crisis.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge became the first members of the royal family to visit frontline health staff during the crisis (Credit: Youtube/TheRoyalFamily)

The duchess looked her usual stunning self as she arrived at the centre wearing a pretty dark rose trouser suit from Marks & Spencer.

As soon as she arrived at the centre, she was directed towards the hand sanitiser gel, with Kate duly obliging to try to halt the spread of the disease.

Read more: TV presenter Fiona Phillips reveals she has coronavirus and is self-isolating

Once inside, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge spoke to members of staff taking 111 calls from the public and heard how the number of calls had quadrupled since the crisis began.

They heard that the 999 service had just had the busiest three days in its history and that 111 staff were receiving a "phenomenal" amount of calls from the public.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge used hand sanitiser as they arrived (Credit: YouTube/TheRoyalFamily)

During the visit, one staff member forgot about new social distancing rules and asked the couple for a photograph, reaching out to shake hands with William.

"Don't shake hands!" he said laughing.

William added: "We can do a photograph if we are not within a metre of each other."

Read more: Harry and Meghan slammed over coronavirus Instagram statement

Caring Kate also asked how many of the calls the centre receives were on the subject of mental health.

One worker revealed: "Quite a large volume. People with mental health issues are more concerned about coronavirus and how to manage that."

NHS 111 worker Tracy Pidgeon also revealed that being at the call centre made William miss his days as an air ambulance pilot.

The couple exercised social distancing during the visit (Credit: YouTube/TheRoyalFamily)

"He misses the helicopter, being on the front line. He just said he misses it," she said.

Afterwards, on Instagram, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge revealed how "proud" they were of the NHS.

We can do a photograph if we are not within a metre of each other.

William posted: "Catherine and I were proud to visit staff working at NHS 111, to pass on our personal thanks, along with those of my grandmother and father, to staff working around the clock to provide care and advice to those that need it most."

He added: "The last few weeks, and more recent days have been understandably concerning with the continuing spread of coronavirus. But it’s at times like this when we realise just how much the NHS represents the very best of our country and society – people from all backgrounds and walks of life with different experiences and skills, pulling together for the common good."

William concluded: "Not only are NHS staff and emergency workers responding to the needs of the public, they – like the rest of us – are concerned about their families, friends and loved ones. They need our support as much as we need theirs."

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