Entertainment

Covid heroes and soap stars honoured by Prince of Wales at St James's Palace

The scaled down ceremony is the second royal investiture since the first national lockdown and is also the second to be held at the palace.

Soap opera stars joined nurses and other local heroes to receive honours from the Prince of Wales who, according to one recipient, was “very insightful” about the challenges faced by many during the coronavirus pandemic.

Charles made recipients feel “extremely relaxed” as he handed out awards at St James’s Palace on Thursday.

The scaled down ceremony is the second royal investiture since the first national lockdown and is also the second to be held at the palace, situated off the Mall in central London, in recent times.

Recipients included Felicia Kwaku, associate director of nursing at Kings College NHS Foundation Trust, EastEnders actor Rudolph Walker and a 96-year-old Holocaust educator.

Felicia Kwaku with her OBE medal for services to nursing
Felicia Kwaku with her OBE medal for services to nursing (Victoria Jones/PA)

Ms Kwaku, 53, who was made an OBE for services to nursing, said the award was an “incredible privilege” and praised Charles’ awareness of challenges faced in the profession.

“He’s very insightful and was talking to me about nursing and we discussed the impact of Covid,” she said.

“I said it’s been really hard, it’s been really tough and he asked ‘even now?’ and I said yes, it’s taken its toll on the nursing profession.

“We also discussed how we could support the profession so that’s really good…it’s great that the royal family is backing us.

“None of this stuff you can do on your own. You are reliant on your peers, your colleagues…the whole fabric of your workplace.

“It’s not done in silos so the reason why I’m here is because of my nursing colleagues.”

Long-time EastEnders actor Walker, who received a CBE for services to drama and charity, said he had discussed the soap opera with the prince, who had been “very relaxing”.

“He was interested in the show, he knew that I had been in it for a long time and that, here I am at the ripe young age of 81, going on to 82, still doing it and still enjoying it,” he said.

“It was very relaxing, he made us feel extremely relaxed and he was interested in the fact that I am still plodding on.”

Mr Walker said Charles had briefly mixed up the soap operas but apologised immediately.

“He spoke about Coronation Street and I said ‘no no, you’re talking about the opposition.’ Let’s talk about EastEnders,” he said.

Rudolph Walker with his medal after the ceremony
Rudolph Walker with his medal after the ceremony (Victoria Jones/PA)

“He just laughed and said ‘I do understand, I do apologise’ but it was done very light-heartedly.

Maria Green, 96, who received an MBE for services to Holocaust Education said that she had “loved the occasion” and that Charles had “good touch of humanity”.

“He has seen enough of the world and spoken to enough people to be fully informed and I think he has a very open mind,” she said.

“Some people in certain positions take a certain stance and won’t move but I think he listens and he’s aware of what you’re saying.”

She added: “I liked talking to him.”

96-year-old Holocaust survivor Maria Green
96-year-old Holocaust educator Maria Green (Victoria Jones/PA)

The Reverend Dr David Hoyle, who received an MBE for services to faith and vulnerable communities in Bristol, said Charles was also deeply interested in faith and how it had been affected by the pandemic.

“Faith has been really important for people and a lot of people have turned to us…so in one sense we are equipped for this,” he said.

“The things that sustain us, being able to celebrate together, to sing hymns and to gather, that’s actually been really difficult for us.

“Charles thinks about them really deeply…and is really interested in questions of faith.”

Asked how his family had reacted to his honour, Dr Hoyle replied: “My wife is very proud and has been thrilled but on Father’s Day that was addressed to ‘David Hoyle, MBE, PPE, LOL, so I suppose that’s what they think.”

The majority of recipients at Wednesday and Thursday’s ceremonies were named on Honours Lists released in 2019 but have not been able to receive them in person due to delays caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

A palace spokesperson said: “Following the necessary cancellation of investitures due to the pandemic there are a significant number of recipients due to be awarded their honour.

“Central Chancery are in the process of contacting the recipients to discuss a number of options.”

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