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Coronavirus: Wales's largest field hospital opened by Prince Charles

·Royal Correspondent
·3-min read
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Prince Charles has opened another field hospital, this time in Cardiff, as the UK continues to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

Charles, 71, dusted off some of his Welsh language skills in a special message sent to open the hospital inside Cardiff’s Principality Stadium.

While those in England have been called NHS Nightingale Hospitals, over the border, they are being called Ysbyty Calon Y Ddraig - Dragon’s Heart hospital.

In a message he said: “In a facility named, so evocatively and so appropriately, Calon y Ddraig, what can I say except ‘diolch o galon’, and express the warmest possible thanks for what you have done, and all that you will do in this hospital, and all those other field hospitals, across Wales, where buildings have been transformed as part of the immense effort to combat the dreadful threat we face. Llongyfarchiadau ichi i gyd.”

Diolch o galon means ‘heartfelt thanks’ while llongyfarchiadau ichi i gyd means ‘congratulations to you all’.

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The prince learnt some Welsh as a student, when he spent a term at the University of Wales in Aberystwyth.

He gave his speech at his investiture as the Prince of Wales in Welsh.

The message, which was recorded in his home in Birkhall, Scotland, continued: “It has now been weeks since our lives were changed in so many far-reaching ways by this pernicious virus. We have seen streets become empty and workplaces fall silent. But we have also seen individuals and communities meeting these strange new circumstances with the age-old values of generosity and courage that the people of Wales have always understood so well.”

The ceremony at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff also included a pre-recorded performance by Official Harpist to The Prince of Wales, Alis Huws.

CARDIFF, WALES - APRIL 09: A general view as workers prepare the Dragon's Heart hospital on April 9, 2020, in Cardiff, Wales. The Principality Stadium is being converted into 2000-bed field hospital for coronavirus patients called the Dragon's Heart Hospital. It is expected to start taking patients from Sunday. There have been over 60,000 reported cases of the COVID-19 coronavirus in the United Kingdom and over 7,000 deaths. The country is in its third week of lockdown measures aimed at slowing the spread of the virus. (Photo by Matthew Horwood/Getty Images)
A general view as workers prepare the Dragon's Heart hospital in Cardiff. (Getty Images)

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Charles added: “We mark one of the most remarkable transformations that have been achieved – namely turning Wales’s national stadium – one might almost say its national shrine – into this giant temporary field hospital. This, and all the other field hospitals across Wales, are an achievement of which we are all immensely proud. Through your extraordinary efforts, this stadium, so long a place of who-wyl, has now become a place of healing.”

Who-wyl refers to a good spirit or atmosphere.

The field hospital is the largest in Wales and the second largest in the UK, with capacity of up to 2,000 beds.

It will treat those with coronavirus who are too sick to be at home but do not require intensive care.

The British Army help move medical supplies at the Principality Stadium, Cardiff, which is being turned into a 2000-bed hospital to help fight coronavirus. (Photo by Ben Birchall/PA Images via Getty Images)
The British Army help move medical supplies at the Principality Stadium, Cardiff. (Getty Images)

Several similar hospitals have been set up around the United Kingdom, with many of them opened by Prince Charles or other royals.

Charles opened the NHS Nightingale hospital in the ExCel centre via videolink from his home in Scotland shortly after he recovered from COVID-19 himself.

William opened the Nightingale hospital in Birmingham, and Camilla sent a video message for the field hospital in Manchester.

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Over Easter, there were just 19 patients in the Nightingale hospital in East London. The field hospital has a capacity of up to 4,000.

In addition to the Cardiff stadium capacity, more beds are being added in areas including Swansea Bay, Llanelli and Llandudno.

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Prince Charles’s message comes on the same day as his father, Prince Philip, sent his own rare message ahead of World Immunisation Week.

Despite being retired, Philip sent a message acknowledging the hard of work of scientists and medical teams who are working to find a COVID-19 vaccine.

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