Prince Charles carries out first virtual Royal opening with NHS Nightingale Hospital

The newly converted NHS hospital for coronavirus patients has been officially opened on Friday by the Prince of Wales, despite him being hundreds of miles away.

NHS Nightingale, inside the huge ExCel Conference Centre in East London, will provide an initial 500 beds to relieve pressure on the NHS.

Prince Charles performed the opening of the hospital via video link, as he is recovering from his coronavirus diagnosis on the Balmoral Estate in Aberdeenshire.

Prince Charles appeared on video-link opening the NHS Nightingale in London. Credit: PA

It’s the first time a member of the Royal Family has performed an opening ceremony like this remotely.

He used the Zoom meeting application before handing over to the hospital’s Head of Nursing to unveil the plaque on his behalf.

Coronavirus has spread much faster in London than anywhere else in the country and the first batch of 500 beds are urgently needed in the capital.

Charles said the new hospital "offers us an intensely practical message of hope for those who will need it most at this time of national suffering".

"Let us also pray, ladies and gentlemen, that it will be required for as short a time, and for as few people as possible," he added.

He went on to say: "I need hardly say that 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. 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, throughout the United Kingdom."

4,000 patients could be treated at the Nightingale Hospital in London. Credit: PA

On Thursday, the number of recorded deaths across the UK rose by the highest number yet in any 24-hour period.

The increase of 569 lives lost brought the nationwide total to 2,921.

On Tuesday, the Prince, who was diagnosed with the virus last week, spoke of his admiration for the medics and staff who are “the backbone” of the NHS.

He said, on behalf of himself and the Duchess of Cornwall: "Our thoughts and prayers are very much with those marvellous people whose extraordinary skills and utter, selfless devotion to duty and the care of their patients make us so very proud."

Prince Charles also said: "As a nation, we are faced by a profoundly challenging situation, which we are only too aware threatens the livelihoods, businesses and welfare of millions of our fellow citizens."

The exhibition centre in London’s Docklands has been converted in a matter of days and has the potential to treat up to 4,000 patients.