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Nurses around the world have had calls from the Queen, the Duchess of Cambridge and the Countess of Wessex as members of the Royal Family marked International Nurses Day.
The Queen called Professor Kathleen McCourt, the President of the Commonwealth Nurses and Midwives Federation and Fellow of the Royal College of Nursing, on Tuesday. The Queen is a patron of the college.
On Monday, her daughter-in-law Sophie, the Countess of Wessex, teamed up with Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, to call nurses in seven different Commonwealth countries.
Kate, 38, and Sophie, 55, called nurses in Queensland, Australia, Sierra Leone, India, as well as Malawi, the Bahamas and Cyprus.
They also spoke to nurses in the UK, at the Evelina London Children’s Hospital and Community Services, of which the Duchess of Cambridge is Patron.
In one call, to British Army nurses in Cyprus Kate and Sophie joked with one nurse who told them his ex-wife was busy because she was a teacher.
Sophie, who has two children, said: “Be careful, be careful, she’s about to be recruited!”
Kate, a mother of three, laughed and added: “They’re in good hands.
“Yes. I’d quite like her to come and help me with home schooling.”
In audio of her telephone conversation, the Queen, who was greeted by Professor McCourt with a “Good afternoon Your Majesty”, could be heard saying: “This is rather an important day… because obviously they’ve had very important part to play recently.”
Kate has also written to Nursing Now, who facilitated the calls for the duchess and the countess.
In the letter, she said: “The crucial, and often unsung, role that nurses play in global health care is needed now more than ever. In this, the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife, healthcare workers are facing unprecedented challenges in the fight against the global pandemic.
“Often putting their lives at risk and separating from loved ones to protect them from harm, they are an inspiration to us all. We stand behind all nurses and commend their bravery.”
She offered her sympathy at the missed celebrations to mark the year of the nurse and midwife, and said: “I am here to support you in the future.”
In Australia, they spoke to nurses who provide culturally appropriate services to local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
They spoke to nurses at the Aberdeen Women’s Centre in Sierra Leone and LV Prasad Eye Institute in India, both of which Sophie has visited on her overseas tours.
The pair, who rarely work together in such a way, also spoke to nurses at the Apollo Hospital in India, HIV and maternal health nurses in Malawi, mental health nurses in the Bahamas, Army nurses in Cyprus.
In a montage of the calls, messages and videos released on social media, Kate said: “I don’t know how you manage to do this and keep the show on the road despite the extra pressures you’re all under and the challenging conditions – it’s just shown how vital the role that nurses play across the world. You should be so proud of the work that you do.”
Anita Kamara, fistula supervisor and nurse at the women’s centre in Sierra Leone, said: “Having the future Queen and the countess speak to us today was really special.”
Kate’s husband Prince William, 37, called nurses at the Royal Marsden, of which he is president, while his aunt, Princess Anne, spoke to nurses in Tanzania at the weekend.
She called the Programme Manager of a medical ship that provides facilities for those with little or no access to medical care. It’s supported by The Vine, of which she is a patron.
Prince Charles said “my family and I want to join in the chorus of thank yous to nursing and midwifery staff across the country and indeed the world” in a video message thanking nurses around the world.
His wife, the Duchess of Cornwall, has recorded messages of support for nurses from the Royal Naval Medical Service and Roald Dahl’s Marvellous Children Charity, of which she is respectively Commodore-in-Chief and Patron.
Princess Alexandra spoke with the head of the Naval Nursing Service in her role as Patron of Queen Alexandra's Royal Naval Nursing Service (QARNNS).
The Royal Family members thanked the nurses on each call for their ongoing work and for the “incredible work they do on a daily basis”.
Kensington Palace said the royals spoke to the nurses about how the work they do had been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
International Nurses’ Day takes place on Florence Nightingale’s birthday and this year is the 200th anniversary of Nightingale’s birth.