Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visit Abbey vaccine clinic

Tuesday, 23rd March 2021

Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visit Abbey vaccine clinic

Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visited the NHS Covid-19 vaccination clinic in Westminster Abbey today, on the National Day of Reflection marking the anniversary of the first coronavirus lockdown.

The royal visitors were welcomed to the Abbey by the Dean, the Very Reverend Dr David Hoyle, and the Receiver General, Paul Baumann.

The Duke and Duchess were escorted around the clinic by Scott Craddock, the Abbey’s Head of Visitor Experience, and Victoria de la Morinière, Head of Quality Improvement at Chelsea and Westminster NHS Foundation Trust. The visitors met NHS clinicians, Abbey volunteers and patients.

At 12 noon Their Royal Highnesses were joined by the Dean in the Shrine of St Edward the Confessor for prayers and silence. The Duke of Cambridge lit a candle at the Shrine’s altar and The Duchess laid fresh daffodils.

Many cathedrals and churches closed completely during the current lockdown; however, Westminster Abbey has remained open for daily public worship in the nave. In order to allow this to continue, the vaccination clinic is focused on the east end of the Abbey, with dedicated access via the North Green and using the large north and south transepts for queuing, registering and vaccinating.

Vaccinations take place in the company of the many writers, actors and other luminaries memorialised in Poets’ Corner. The lobby area for The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Galleries, opened in 2018, is used for the critical support functions of deliveries, storage and a pharmacy, including the controlled storage of vaccines.

The vaccination hub opened successfully on 10 March, and 1300 people were vaccinated in the first two days. The hub will be open twice a week until at least the end of June and has capacity for up to 800 vaccinations per day.

On a typical day it is operated by around 30 NHS staff, supported by a dozen volunteers from the Abbey’s Visitor Experience team and from St. John’s Ambulance.