The sight of a royal on Zoom has become almost commonplace in the year since the coronavirus pandemic began, but there was something especially striking about the Queen’s virtual meeting on Thursday with the health officials who are leading vaccination efforts across the United Kingdom. Her Majesty, who received the COVID vaccine last month, opened up about her own experience receiving the jab—and added that she’s “had lots of letters from people who have been very surprised by how easy it was to get the vaccine. And the jab–it didn’t hurt at all.”
In the video the Queen—wearing pearls even on Zoom—is shown meeting with Emily Lawson, chief commercial officer, NHS England; Derek Grieve, head of the Scottish government’s vaccinations division; Naresh Chada, deputy chief medical officer for Northern Ireland; and Gillian Richardson, deputy chief medical officer, Wales. Grieve spoke about the particular challenges of vaccinating people in the far-flung areas of Scotland, but praised the energy that has gone into the effort—“If I could bottle this community spirit and use it not just for the vaccination program, but for other things, the job would be done.”
Though the palace did not confirm the date of the call, the video was released as the Queen’s husband, Prince Philip, remains hospitalised. The 99-year-old Duke of Edinburgh has extended his stay and is said by the palace to be “comfortable and responding to treatment” as he battles an infection. But even with the family patriarch in the hospital, the royals have been busy supporting frontline workers and medical staff in recent days. Earlier this week Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall visited the vaccination centre at Wembley Park to thank the volunteers for their service, and Prince William visited a vaccination centre in Norfolk. In addition Sophie, the Countess of Wessex put in her first shift on Thursday as a volunteer at an NHS Vaccination Centre.
In her Zoom call with the vaccine leaders, the Queen expressed empathy for people who might hesitate to get the shot but suggested they “think of people other than themselves.” She, Camilla, and Prince Charles have all emphasised just how easy and quick the process was; Camilla told one vaccine clinic’s staff that after she received the shot, “I leapt for joy.”
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