Moment Prince Charles and Matt Hancock share awkward - and relatable - elbow bump greeting

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·Royal Correspondent
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Britain's Health Secretary Matt Hancock (L) speaks with Britain's Prince Charles, Prince of Wales (2nd R), during a visit to Chelsea & Westminster Hospital in London on June 17, 2021. (Photo by Steve REIGATE / POOL / AFP) (Photo by STEVE REIGATE/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Matt Hancock was keen to go in for the elbow bump, but Charles was not so sure. (Steve Reigate/AFP)

Fist bump? Elbow tap? Air hug?

The rules of the greeting one another in the new normal have many Britons flummoxed, and they have even caught out the future king and the health secretary, who did not know what to do when they met on an engagement in London on Thursday.

Prince Charles, 72, was at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital with Matt Hancock to thank staff for their work during the course of the pandemic, but the two men probably didn't bank on a brief rendition of the Hokey Cokey at the entrance.

Charles has been sticking to using a namaste gesture as he greets people but Hancock appeared to prefer an elbow bump, and he went in for one with the heir to the throne.

But Charles laughed as he raised each elbow in turn, and then kicked his legs and joked it was like the "true Hokey Cokey".

Britain's Health Secretary Matt Hancock (L) and Britain's Prince Charles, Prince of Wales (2nd R), meet with staff during a visit to Chelsea & Westminster Hospital in London on June 17, 2021. (Photo by Steve REIGATE / POOL / AFP) (Photo by STEVE REIGATE/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Charles laughed as he joked the situation was the true hokey cokey. (Steve ReigateAFP)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 17:  Prince Charles, Prince of Wales with British Health secretary Matt Hancock meet NHS staff during their visit to the Chelsea & Westminster hospital on June 17, 2021 in London, England. The Prince of Wales, President of Prince’s Trust, will meet front-line workers from Chelsea & Westminster and Lewisham & Greenwich NHS Trusts and will hear how Prince’s Trusts’ Health and Social Care programmes supported them into NHS employment and thank them for their service during the Pandemic.  (Photo by Steve Reigate-WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Prince Charles has been sticking to a namaste greeting since March 2020. (Steve Reigate-WPA Pool/Getty Images)

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The Duke of Cornwall waved his hand to indicate he'd rather not elbow bump the minister before they carried out the visit across the hospital.

Charles went on to condemn the rising levels of attacks on NHS staff, saying: "You can’t believe it, can you?

"When I think of what it has been like for so long, and how many people have been lucky enough to have wonderful paramedics and ambulance staff coming to their rescue …

"But now you find the situation rising – violence, attacks, verbal attacks, racial abuse and everything else.

"To me it’s unreal, unacceptable. Why attack the people who are trying to look after you?"

Earlier in June it was announced paramedics would be fitted with body cameras in the hope of preventing some of the thousands of attacks they face each year.

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Data from the NHS in England showed that 3,569 ambulance staff reported being assaulted in 2020/21 – a 32% rise from five years previously.

A Clarence House spokesperson said: "The Prince of Wales was shocked to hear that those who have done so much for all of us in this pandemic are the victims of abuse and violence from a small minority.

"NHS frontline staff and volunteers deserve our support, thanks and respect for the important work that they do."

Charles reportedly asked to meet some of those who have been attacked.

London Ambulance Service volunteer James Holt met Charles in the new staff wellbeing garden where he admitted verbal abuse has become so regular, they no longer report it.

He said: "It’s only when you think about it, you realise how normalised it has become for us. It happens so regularly, we almost forget about it."

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 17:  Prince Charles, Prince of Wales meets NHS staff during a visit to the Chelsea & Westminster hospital on June 17, 2021 in London, England. The Prince of Wales, President of Prince’s Trust, will meet front-line workers from Chelsea & Westminster and Lewisham & Greenwich NHS Trusts and will hear how Prince’s Trusts’ Health and Social Care programmes supported them into NHS employment and thank them for their service during the Pandemic.  (Photo by Steve Reigate-WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Prince Charles was there to meet NHS staff at Chelsea & Westminster hospital and thank them for their work during the pandemic. (Steve Reigate-WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Britain's Prince Charles, Prince of Wales (L) meets with staff during a visit to Chelsea & Westminster Hospital in London on June 17, 2021. (Photo by Steve REIGATE / POOL / AFP) (Photo by STEVE REIGATE/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Charles met staff in the hospital's wellbeing garden. (Steve Reigate/AFP)

Shurelle Elevique recounted how she had been subjected to racism, Zaidia Hussain rendered the prince almost speechless as she told him about having a knife pulled on her during a call-out.

Hussain said afterwards: "You have to be so aware of what’s around you when you go into a house, which shouldn’t be your focus. It should be the patient.

"I have managed to get two convictions (against people). One man racially abused me and then tried to hit me. And the second was a lady that pulled a knife on us."

The prince told some of the staff: "What would we do without you?

"I was very interested to hear about the things that you have had to put up with. It’s inexcusable."

He added: "We owe you a huge debt of gratitude."

Handout photo issued by Prince's Trust of the Prince of Wales with Sophie Croslan (left), a Prince's Trust supported yong person, and Lesley Watts, hospital CEO, during a visit to Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in west London. Issue date: Thursday June 17, 2021.
Charles with Sophie Croslan (left), a Prince's Trust supported yong person, and Lesley Watts, hospital CEO as he plants a tree to record his visit. (Prince's Trust)

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On Thursday he met workers from the Chelsea & Westminster and Lewisham & Greenwich NHS trusts to thank them for their response during the COVID-19 pandemic, and also heard how his Prince’s Trust Health and Social Care programmes helped them into employment.

He was joined by Hancock, who it has emerged was branded "hopeless" by the prime minister Boris Johnson in a WhatsApp message to then advisor Dominic Cummings.

Charles spoke to him about the vaccine programme saying the government was going "all out" adding "especially the younger ones".

Hancock replied: "And they are queuing up."

Vaccine appointments will be opened up to all aged over 18 from Friday, Hancock announced on Thursday.

More than 80% of UK adults have had their first dose of one of the available vaccines, and more than 30m, 58%, have had both.

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