Prince Harry hails 'wonderfully British' response to coronavirus crisis

19 April 2020, 10:58

Prince Harry praised the NHS in an interview
Prince Harry praised the NHS in an interview. Picture: PA

By Asher McShane

The Duke of Sussex praised the UK's response to the coronavirus crisis, thanking NHS workers and the efforts of war hero Thomas Moore, who raised millions of pounds towards tackling the disease.

But Harry also sparked anger following his interview with the Declassifed podcast by saying the response to the disease is "proving that I think things are better than we're led to believe through certain corners of the media."

"It can be very worrying when you're sitting there and the only information you are getting is from certain news channels, but then if you are out and about or you are on the right platforms, you can really sense this human spirit coming to the forefront."

Oncologist and former director of the WHO Cancer Programme Professor Karol Sikora said: “What are his qualifications for making these comments?"

"Journalists have been reporting the facts and have been doing great work in holding the Government to account.

"The media has also championed the NHS and become a key ally of doctors, nurses and key workers. They should be applauded, not vilified."

In the podcast Harry thanked NHS workers and volunteers in the fight against Covid-19, saying he is "incredibly proud" of the British public's response to the pandemic.

Harry said the amount of volunteers rushing to help in the national effort was "wonderfully British".

The duke, who has quit as a working royal and is living in the US, also praised Second World War veteran Captain Tom Moore for his "utterly amazing" fundraising efforts.

The podcast episode is hoping to encourage veterans to volunteer and join Team Rubicon UK, as they assist the Government in their response to the coronavirus crisis.

"I want to say a huge thank you, as we all do, to all of the NHS workers and everybody that's volunteering," the duke said.

"Because up and down the UK, whether it's from Dorset up to Staffordshire, there are literally hundreds of thousands of people volunteering."

Referring to an article by the Guardian about the high number of people who have come forward to volunteer, Harry added: "It's such a wonderfully British thing that we all come to help when we need it."

The duke also praised 99-year-old war veteran Capt Moore, whose fundraising efforts have captured the heart of the nation - raising more than £22 million for NHS charities by walking lengths of his garden.

Harry told the podcast: "Congratulations to Tom, I think what he's done is utterly amazing.

"It's not just what he's done, it's the reaction that people have had as well, I think is again just wonderfully British.

"I'm just so incredibly proud to see what these individuals up and down the country and across the world are doing on a day-to-day basis."

The Queen's grandson also paid tribute to the younger generation for their efforts, calling the youth engagement "exceptional, specifically in the UK" during the pandemic.

The duke, who is in Los Angeles with the Duchess of Sussex and their baby son Archie Mountbatten-Windsor, said he hopes volunteering efforts continue once the crisis ends.

He added: "It just makes me incredibly proud to see the Brits stepping up like this, but I really, really hope that this keeps going after coronavirus and after this whole pandemic has come to a close."

Hosted by Michael Coates, the podcast is a series of conversation with members from the military community.

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The duke, who served with the Blues and Royals and the Army Air Corps, called the volunteering efforts of veterans a "selfless act".

He said: "It's about selflessness rather than selfishness and I think in today's culture, in today's world, we need more role models that are willing to put others ahead of themselves.

"I think again about being part of a unit, being part of a team, certainly for me wearing a uniform that was the same as everybody else.

"It kind of makes you feel totally equal but at the same time makes you want to do everything you can for the person on your left and the person on your right."

Harry joined a humanitarian operation by Team Rubicon UK in Nepal, in the wake of the country's earthquake in 2015.

The charity, which mobilises former serving personnel, has launched Op RE:ACT in response to the crisis and is calling on veterans to utilise their skillset and assist in volunteering.

Chief executive of Team Rubicon UK Richard Sharp told the podcast the charity was "re-purposing veteran skill" to support mortuaries and hospitals during the pandemic.

Some 3,000 veterans have now signed up to support Op RE:ACT, Mr Sharp said.

"Our main effort has been to support the incredible NHS," he told the podcast.

"We've been watching the most unbelievable committed service to this country by doctors, nurses, respiratory physios, and it was clear that we had to do everything we could to support that."