Queen reflects on ‘grief’ of Covid pandemic and sends flowers to duke’s hospital

The Queen Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

The Queen has reflected on 12 months of "grief and loss" as she marked the anniversary of the first Covid lockdown by sending flowers to the hospital where the Duke of Edinburgh had heart surgery.

The monarch paid tribute to the “immeasurable service of those who have supported us all over the last year” as she looked forward to a “brighter future together” in a message sent with the bouquet to Bartholomew’s Hospital in the City of London.

Philip was discharged on March 16 to King Edward VII’s Hospital following his successful procedure at the hospital.

Staff observe a minute's silence outside the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow. Credit: PA

Philip, 99, and the Queen, were reunited at Windsor in Berkshire last week after the duke spent a month in hospital.

The Queen's message read: “As we look forward to a brighter future together, today we pause to reflect on the grief and loss that continues to be felt by so many people and families, and pay tribute to the immeasurable service of those who have supported us all over the last year.”

The floral gift and message was handed to the hospital’s chief executive, consultant cardiologist Professor Charles Knight.

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It was presented by an official from Windsor Castle in a small outdoor handover ceremony in the hospital’s historic square, watched by a group of frontline medics, who gathered for the minute’s silence.

Professor Knight, who led the development of the Barts Heart Centre, which is Europe’s largest specialised cardiovascular service, also works at the private King Edward VII’s Hospital, where Philip was also treated.

Chief executive of St Bartholomew’s Hospital Professor Charles Knight receives flowers from the Queen Credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA

He expressed his thanks for the bouquet, and told the staff at St Barts he was in “awe of them” for their work during the pandemic.

“I’m delighted to accept the bouquet on behalf of the hospital and for everyone being remembered on this day of national reflection,” he said.

“I would like to thank all our staff at St Bartholomew’s for going above and beyond to care for our patients and support one another during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Staff at St Bartholomew’s Hospital, London, receive flowers from the Queen Credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA

“These flowers are for you and represent all that you continue to do every day. I’m in awe of you.”

Professor Knight also thanked hospital staff and frontline workers across the UK.

He said the day of reflection is a chance for us “to come together and remember all those that we have lost through the pandemic and all those still bearing the burden of grief”.

He added: “Reflecting on the past year inevitably brings a lot of sadness but it also is an immense source of pride when I recall the heroic efforts of the staff at St Bartholomew’s to cope with the unprecedented challenge of the pandemic.

“The gift is for each and every one of them.

“To close, we would all like to wish His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh a full and complete and speedy recovery.”

The Queen has served as a symbol of national stability during the pandemic, delivering two rare televised addresses to the nation just weeks apart.

She reassured the country that the virus would be overcome, telling those in isolation: “We will meet again.”

In the confines of the castle grounds, the Queen and Philip were pictured together to mark the duke turning 99 in June 2020.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge at Westminster Abbey Credit: Aaron Chown/PA

Both have had their first Covid vaccinations.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge observed a private moment of reflection in Westminster Abbey where they were visiting its vaccination centre and to thank staff and volunteers.

Joined by the Dean of Westminster the Very Reverend Dr David Hoyle, the royal couple stood in silence before the Dean delivered a series of short prayers.

William then lit a candle in remembrance at the altar of the Shrine, and Kate placed fresh daffodils next to the candle.

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh in the quadrangle of Windsor Castle in 2020. Credit: Steve Parsons/PA

The duke had been moved to the NHS hospital by ambulance, after initially being treated at the private King Edward VII’s Hospital in central London and then returning there to recuperate after surgery.

The Queen and Philip moved to Windsor on March 19 2020 for their safety amid the spread of Covid-19.

They are being cared for by a reduced household of staff of about 20 people – dubbed HMS Bubble.