The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will attend the service at St Paul’s, which is set to be “one of commemoration and thanksgiving to celebrate” the health service’s efforts during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Leading figures in the response to the public health crisis have been invited to the service, as well as several hundred members of frontline staff, patients and others who have provided vital services.
These include NHS chief Sir Simon Stevens; Matron May Parsons who administered the first Covid vaccine jab outside of clinical trials; Sam Foster, the nurse who gave the first dose of AstraZeneca; members of staff who treated Covid patients in England and a number of former Covid patients.
William and Kate will then host an NHS Big Tea later in the afternoon in the gardens of Buckingham Palace.
The royal pair will meet staff who have worked across the NHS, including respiratory ward nurses, counsellors and care workers, as well as those working in non-clinical roles such as catering managers and housekeeping coordinators.
They will “pass on their thanks and hear about their experiences of working over the past 18 months”, said a spokesperson.
The NHS Big Tea is organised by NHS Charities Together as a national celebration of the health service. The event hosted by the Cambridges will be one of thousands taking place today in homes, hospitals, schools and community spaces across the UK.
Members of the public are encouraged to join their communities in a moment of reflection, and to thank NHS staff and volunteers for the role they have played throughout the pandemic.
William and Kate have been joint patrons of NHS Charities Together since December 2020.
Alexandra Heys, nurse ward manager in the respiratory high care unit at Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “The special tea at Buckingham Palace means a lot to NHS staff who have been through so much over the last year, and I feel so honoured to be meeting the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge today.
“I know from personal experience that the past year has taken a huge toll on NHS staff who have worked incredibly hard to take care of patients during a challenging time.
“My team at the respiratory high care unit has cared for over 300 very sick Covid patients, all of whom required dedicated around-the-clock care.
“All NHS staff have gone above and beyond, providing additional care in difficult circumstances, including connecting isolated and very sick patients with their families in their most challenging moments.
“We have all been through a lot, so seeing the public get behind the NHS Big Tea on such as massive scale is an immense boost and really makes a difference.”
England footballer Jordan Henderson, who was appointed an official NHS Charities Together Champion in January after he created the #PlayersTogether initiative, said: “After the last 16 months, this nation owes so much to the NHS and the least we can do this July is encourage everybody to express their collective gratitude for that selfless support.
“We know as footballers we are often the ones being looked up to, but this is about the real heroes so, from all of us associated with the England football teams, we raise our mugs for the NHS Big Tea with a simple message - thank you.”
Additional reporting by PA