Prince Charles and Duchess Camilla return to in-person royal duties as coronavirus lockdown eases

By Zach Harper, with files from Emily Nash

We haven't seen any in-person royal engagements since March, when the United Kingdom went into lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic. But on June 16, Prince Charles and Duchess Camilla returned to in-person duties with a socially distanced visit to a hospital to thank frontline workers.

The future King and the Duchess of Cornwall stepped out to Gloucestershire Royal Hospital near their home of Highgrove House, where they're staying after leaving isolation at the Royal Family's Balmoral estate in Scotland.

The couple were beaming as they arrived, keeping their hands mostly behind their backs and staying two metres apart from everyone, as per health guidelines.

Charles, who had begun greeting people by putting his hands together and saying "Namaste," did the same on June 16 as he and Camilla met with clinicians, volunteers, clinical psychologists, senior biomedical scientists, junior doctors, social workers and other frontline staff on their visit.

Look at that smile on Charles's face! He and Camilla looked so happy to be meeting people in-person again. Photo: © BEN BIRCHALL/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

"It has been a marvellous opportunity just to have a chance to see people who I know have been doing so much on the frontline and having to endure an awful lot of stress and strain in their wonderful way," Charles told ITV. "How they do it, I don't know.

"But delivering everything in the most effective way and the great thing that they were all saying is that it has brought different departments together in a way that hadn't always happened before. There has been a great deal of marvellous cooperation, I think."

Camilla echoed her husband's appreciation, saying she and Charles had really enjoyed the weekly Clap for Carers sessions, in which Brits have been going outside their homes to clap and bang pots in appreciation of those keeping everyone safe.

It's likely we'll see in-person royal events continue to follow the two-metre-apart rule for the foreseeable future. Photo: © WPA Pool - Ben Birchall/Getty Images

"They have done the most remarkable things," she said to ITV. "The way they have looked after people, the way they have kept control of the whole thing. It's a question of not panicking, getting on with it and they are Britain at its best."

Gloucestershire has seen 1,378 COVID-19 cases, and the Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has admitted 649 patients with the illness. Right now, there are only 12 people in the two hospitals run by the trust that have COVID-19, though the facilities sadly had 162 patients die from the disease from March to June 15.

As of this writing, there have been more than 8 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 worldwide, according to the Johns Hopkins University of Medicine. Nearly 300,000 of those cases have been in the U.K. While more than 400,000 people have died from complications due to the coronavirus worldwide, nearly 4 million people have also recovered from COVID-19.

Charles himself recovered from COVID-19, which he came down with in late March. Luckily, the Prince of Wales only had mild symptoms. Camilla tested negative for the illness.

It's lovely to see the royals stepping out again after these past few months! We hope everyone stays safe and healthy as we continue to battle this illness and figure out social distancing together.

In this challenging time, it’s really hard to be separated from family and friends. It’s also a time when everyone needs a beautiful escape. Here at Hello! Canada, we’re still busy creating the magazine you know and love, to spread positivity and provide some entertainment as a gentle reprieve from all the hard news. And with our new special offer for subscribers, there’s never been a better time to have Hello! delivered directly to your front door. Why not treat yourself, or someone you love, today?

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