The Queen has reflected on the “grief and loss felt by so many” as she marked the poignant Covid lockdown anniversary by sending flowers to the hospital where the Duke of Edinburgh had heart surgery.
The monarch paid tribute to the “immeasurable service of those who have supported us all over the last year” in a message honouring the national day of reflection.
A bouquet of irises, tulips, mixed narcissi and ranunculus and the message were taken to St Bartholomew’s Hospital in the City of London from Windsor Castle where the Queen and Philip have been staying during the pandemic.
The Queen is understood to have wanted to mark the day during which Covid-19 victims are being remembered across the nation with a minute’s silence at midday.
She chose St Bartholomew’s to receive the flowers following the duke’s successful procedure and recent stay.
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The Queen also wrote of how the nation was looking forward to a “brighter future together”.
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.”
The floral gift and message was handed to the hospital’s chief executive, consultant cardiologist Professor Charles Knight.
It was presented by an official from Windsor Castle in a small outdoor handover ceremony in the hospital’s historic square, watched by a group of frontline medics, who gathered for the minute’s silence.
Philip, 99, and the Queen, who have been married for 73 years, were reunited at Windsor in Berkshire last week after the duke spent a month in hospital.
The duke had a successful procedure on his heart at St Bartholomew’s on March 3 – three months ahead of his 100th birthday in June. He was discharged on March 16.
Philip had been moved to the NHS hospital by ambulance, after initially being treated at the private King Edward VII’s Hospital in central London and then returning there to recuperate after surgery.
The Queen and Philip moved to Windsor on March 19 2020 for their safety amid the spread of Covid-19.
They are being cared for by a reduced household of staff of about 20 people – dubbed HMS Bubble.
The Queen has served as a symbol of national stability during the pandemic, delivering two rare televised addresses to the nation just weeks apart.
She reassured the country that the virus would be overcome, telling those in isolation: “We will meet again.”
In the confines of the castle grounds, the Queen and Philip were pictured together to mark the duke turning 99 in June 2020.
Both have had their first Covid vaccinations.
The Queen, 94, is facing the fallout from the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s Oprah interview, which was broadcast while Philip was in hospital.
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Professor Knight, who led the development of the Barts Heart Centre, which is Europe’s largest specialised cardiovascular service, also works at the private King Edward VII’s Hospital, where Philip was also treated.
He expressed his thanks for the bouquet, and told the staff at St Barts he was in “awe of them” for their work during the pandemic.
“I’m delighted to accept the bouquet on behalf of the hospital and for everyone being remembered on this day of national reflection,” he said.
“I would like to thank all our staff at St Bartholomew’s for going above and beyond to care for our patients and support one another during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“These flowers are for you and represent all that you continue to do every day. I’m in awe of you.”
Professor Knight also thanked hospital staff and frontline workers across the UK.
He said the day of reflection is a chance for us “to come together and remember all those that we have lost through the pandemic and all those still bearing the burden of grief”.
He added: “Reflecting on the past year inevitably brings a lot of sadness but it also is an immense source of pride when I recall the heroic efforts of the staff at St Bartholomew’s to cope with the unprecedented challenge of the pandemic.
“The gift is for each and every one of them.
“To close, we would all like to wish His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh a full and complete and speedy recovery.”