Royals lead tributes as UK marks one year since first coronavirus lockdown

23 March 2021, 13:35 | Updated: 23 March 2021, 18:21

Flowers sent by the Queen to St Bart's in London, and William and Kate at Westminster Abbey
Flowers sent by the Queen to St Bart's in London, and William and Kate at Westminster Abbey. Picture: PA

By Patrick Grafton-Green

The Queen and Prince Charles have led tributes as the UK marked one year since the first coronavirus lockdown.

The Queen reflected on the "grief and loss felt by so many" in a message accompanying flowers sent to St Bartholomew's Hospital in the City of London, where Prince Philip recently had heart surgery.

The Prince of Wales said in a recorded message: "Whatever our faith or philosophy may be, let us take a moment together to remember those who have been lost."

READ MORE: Nation falls silent to remember victims of Covid-19

READ MORE: Covid restrictions are being eased 'once and for all', Boris Johnson says

Prince William and Kate took part in a private moment of reflection in Westminster Abbey during a visit to pay tribute to the efforts of staff and volunteers at the vaccination centre there.

William and Kate visit the vaccination centre at Westminster Abbey
William and Kate visit the vaccination centre at Westminster Abbey. Picture: PA

The bouquet of irises, tulips, mixed narcissi and ranunculus and message sent by the Queen to St Bart's was carried from Windsor Castle, where the monarch and the Duke of Edinburgh have been staying during the pandemic.

The message read: "As we look forward to a brighter future together, today we pause to reflect on the grief and loss that continues to be felt by so many people and families, and pay tribute to the immeasurable service of those who have supported us all over the last year." 

Prince William lights a candle at Westminster Abbey
Prince William lights a candle at Westminster Abbey. Picture: Kensington Palace

Chief executive Professor Charles Knight said the hospital was "hugely honoured and humbled" by the gift.

Meanwhile, Charles said in a recorded message: "We have all been inspired by the resourcefulness we have witnessed, humbled by the dedication shown by so many, and moved beyond words by the sacrifices we have seen.

“Whatever our faith or philosophy may be, let us take a moment together to remember those who have been lost, to give thanks for their lives, and to acknowledge the inexpressible pain of parting.

"In their memory, let us resolve to work for a future inspired by our highest values, that have been displayed so clearly by the people of this country through this most challenging of times."

The nation paused at midday in remembrance of those who have died during the crisis as part of a national day of reflection, organised by the end-of-life charity Marie Curie, of which Charles is a patron.

The minute’s silence was followed by a bell toll.

This evening at 8pm people are being encouraged to stand on their doorsteps with phones, candles and torches to signify a "beacon of remembrance".

The Duchess of Cambridge lights a candle at Westminster Abbey
The Duchess of Cambridge lights a candle at Westminster Abbey. Picture: Kensington Palace

According to the latest available data from the Office for National Statistics, there have been 629,623 deaths from all causes registered in England and Wales between March 21 2020 and the week ending March 12 2021.

The figures also show that, across the UK, 149,117 deaths have now occurred where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.

The Health Foundation calculates that those who died with Covid-19 have lost up to 10 years of life on average, with a total of up to 1.5 million potential years of life lost.