Camilla says she 'leapt for joy' after COVID jab in first in-person royal engagement of 2021 with Prince Charles

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Rebecca Taylor
·Royal Correspondent
·6 min read
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Watch: Prince Charles and Camilla visit Queen Elizabeth Hospital

The Duchess of Cornwall said she "leapt for joy" after having the COVID-19 jab as she and her husband Prince Charles made the first in-person royal engagement of the year to a vaccination centre in Birmingham.

Charles, 72, and Camilla, 73, have both already had their first doses of the COVID-19 jab, and went to meet healthcare workers who were receiving their vaccines.

As they met 50-year-old Nicki Cadwallader, who was having her jab as part of a trial of cancer patients, Charles said: "Don’t worry, it doesn’t take too long."

“It’s a good thing. It doesn’t hurt,” Camilla added.

“I was waiting for it to be done and they said ‘it has been done’. It was painless. It was brilliant.

“It’s very good when it’s over as you feel more secure. Panic over.”

She later told vaccination trial staff: “I leapt for joy. I didn’t feel anything. I’m eternally grateful for everything.” 

They also thanked volunteers undertaking clinical trials for the COVID-19 vaccinations, during the visit to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

The royals were greeted at a distance by Matt Hancock, the health secretary, and masks were worn throughout the visit on Wednesday lunchtime.

The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall during a visit to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham to thank volunteers undertaking clinical trials for the Covid-19 vaccinations. Picture date: Wednesday February 17, 2021.
The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall visited Birmingham to thank the volunteers on clincal trials. (PA)
BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 17: Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall speaks to members of staff during a visit to The Queen Elizabeth Hospital on February 17, 2021 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Molly Darlington - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Charles and Camilla at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham. (Molly Darlington - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

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The couple unveiled a plaque to mark the visit, and Charles made a speech in which he joked he was a similar age to the NHS.

He said: "But the NHS has done a great deal better I can assure you than I have. As I am gradually falling apart."

He said the NHS had “masses” of “unsung and unseen heroes”.

“We owe them all such an enormous debt of gratitude,” he said, adding: “We are very lucky indeed to have you”.

Cadwallader, of Bromsgrove, Worcestershire, is a mother-of-three and property developer who has been shielding since November because she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

She said: “I’m delighted. I’ve been waiting for this day for a long time and I’m so happy. I can get my life back.

“I’m happy the country got it so quickly. This means the world to me. I can’t wait to go back down the supermarket again, it’s the simple things."

The couple thanked volunteers for coming forward to be part of the clinical trial.

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 17: Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall talk with Health Secretary Matt Hancock during a visit to The Queen Elizabeth Hospital on February 17, 2021 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Molly Darlington - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Charles and Camilla talk with Health Secretary Matt Hancock as they arrive at the hospital. (Molly Darlington - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 17: Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall talk with with Chief Pharmacist Inderjit Singh as Health Secretary Matt Hancock looks on during a visit to The Queen Elizabeth Hospital on February 17, 2021 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Molly Darlington - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Charles and Camilla with Chief Pharmacist Inderjit Singh as Health Secretary Matt Hancock looks on. The couple made the first in-person royal visit of 2021. (Molly Darlington - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Harriet Nash, 69, said: “I told the duchess I saw it on the NHS app and I wanted to do whatever I could to help.”

Hancock said: “Thankfully there are signs we are on our way out. There is still a long way to go. Things are improving.

“At this hospital, the number of patients with Covid has fallen from more than 1,000 at its highest, the biggest of any hospital group in the county, to under 600.

“And the vaccination effort at this hospital hub has been one the best in the entire country.”

Ordinarily there would have been several royal engagements by this time in the year, and the Queen would have headed back to work in Buckingham Palace from her Christmas break in Sandringham.

But the third lockdown across England and various restrictions in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, have left the royals relying on virtual visits again.

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 17: Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall speaks to members of staff during a visit to The Queen Elizabeth Hospital on February 17, 2021 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Molly Darlington - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Charles and Camilla speaking to members of staff about the trial and the vaccine programme. (Molly Darlington - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 17: Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall talk with Health Secretary Matt Hancock during a visit to The Queen Elizabeth Hospital on February 17, 2021 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Molly Darlington - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Charles and Camilla with Health Secretary Matt Hancock during a visit to The Queen Elizabeth Hospital. (Molly Darlington - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

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The visit of the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall came after reports that Charles is to get involved with work to ensure minority groups get the vaccine.

The Sunday Times said Charles will hope to counter misinformation about the jab which has been circulating among the black and Asian population. Take up of the vaccines among those communities is as low as half.

The Prince of Wales will make a plea during an online seminar of the British Asian Trust on Thursday, it's reported.

The University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust is believed to have treated the largest number of COVID-positive patients of any individual NHS Trust in the UK, at more than 12,500, with 10,000 of these safely discharged.

The Trust has also recruited the largest number of patients to trials (12,000).

Britain's Prince Charles (R), Prince of Wales and Chief pharmacist Inderjit Singh (C) watch a vaccination taking place during a visit to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, northern England on February 17, 2021. (Photo by MOLLY DARLINGTON / POOL / AFP) (Photo by MOLLY DARLINGTON/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Charles with Chief pharmacist Inderjit Singh (C) watching a vaccination taking place during a visit to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham. (Molly Darlington/AFP)
BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 17: Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall visits The Queen Elizabeth Hospital on February 17, 2021 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Molly Darlington - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
The Duchess of Cornwall speaking to clinical staff at the hospital on Wednesday. (Molly Darlington - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

The Duke and Duchess of Cornwall paid the visit to the hospital just before it was announced that his father, Prince Philip, has been admitted to King Edward VII Hospital in central London, on the advice of his doctor.

Philip, 99, was taken into hospital after feeling unwell, but the palace said it was a precautionary measure.

The Queen carried on with her duties as usual, making a call to the First Sea Lord Admiral Tony Radakin about the Royal Navy's work at home and overseas.

The Royal Family were last seen together just before Christmas as the Queen hosted a carol event for volunteers and key workers who were spending the festive season continuing their fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

Charles and Camilla have been based in west England, at their homes of Highgrove House in Gloucestershire and Camilla's Wiltshire home of Ray Mill.

However they have gone into London for some of their work, which they've carried out at Clarence House.

Watch: Prince Philip hospitalised after feeling unwell