Prince William spoke yesterday of the ‘unimaginable challenges’ faced by cancer patients as a result of the virus.
The Duke of Cambridge said the ‘knock-on effects’ of the crisis had been particularly acute for those who faced delayed treatments.
It comes just days after the prince warned of a ‘mental health catastrophe’ if lockdowns prevented socialising.
Many experts have warned the pandemic has had a devastating impact on cancer sufferers, with vital treatment postponed or cancelled.
Prince William spoke of the ‘unimaginable challenges’ faced by cancer patients during his visit to the Royal Marsden Hospital
The visit comes 30 years after Princess Diana laid a stone to mark the start of the Chelsea Wing at The Royal Marsden in Chelsea
William followed in his mother’s footsteps to lay the foundation stone of a cancer research centre at The Royal Marsden hospital in Sutton, Surrey.
He spoke to staff about the rapid changes they had implemented to keep treatment going during the crisis.
This included the creation of a Covid-free cancer hub which ensured patients were able to continue with their urgent surgery.
In a speech, William, who is president of The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, acknowledged the difficulties faced by patients across the country who have had treatment delayed as a result of the lockdown.
He was there to mark the start of construction of the trust’s Oak Cancer Centre – a research and treatment facility.
His visit came 30 years after his mother, Princess Diana, donned a hard hat to lay a ceremonial stone at The Royal Marsden’s second hospital in Chelsea.
He said: ‘I am delighted to lay the foundation stone of the Oak Centre, 30 years after my mother did the same.
‘But before the official ground-breaking moment, I want to acknowledge the unimaginable challenges that all those at the Marsden have faced this year.
‘The knock on effects of coronavirus have been felt widely – but the impact on cancer treatment for patients has been one of the most acute and challenging.’
The Duke of Cambridge, 38, made an emotional visit to the Royal Marsden Hospital today, where he laid the founding stone for the new Oak Cancer Centre
The Duke of Cambridge, who was appointed President of The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust in 2007, met with staff at the Oak Cancer Centre this morning
Prince William looked in high spirits during the visit to The Royal Marsden in Sutton to meet staff and patients, and to mark the start of construction for the Trust’s Oak Cancer Centre
The prince also launched an appeal to raise the final £8million needed to build the £70million Oak Cancer Centre, which will host more than 400 researchers as well as patients. It is due to open in 2022.
He added: ‘Despite the challenging times we are living in, it is so important we… acknowledge the tremendous work that continues all around us… Irrespective of the global pandemic, there remains hope for the many thousands of people dealing with the effects of cancer.’
Prince William, who has regularly visited the hospital since he was appointed president in 2007, donned a smart black blazer and soft blue jumper for the occasion.
The Duke sheltered beneath a black umbrella as he laid the foundation stone for the centre in London this morning
William went on to lay the foundation stone at the centre that will see 400 researchers under the same roof find new cancer treatments
The Duke gave a short speech at the groundbreaking ceremony, before laying the foundation stone, and praised ‘the incredible work’ that takes place at The Royal Marsden
In a speech given shortly after he laid the foundation stone, Prince William said he was ‘personally delighted’ to be following in the footsteps of his mother
Prince William opted to forgo his usual fabric face covering and instead wore a medical face mask throughout the visit
The father-of-three opted to forgo his usual fabric face covering and instead wore a medical face mask throughout the visit.
During his visit, the father-of-three also heard from staff about several studies launched by The Royal Marsden to investigate the impact of COVID-19 on cancer treatment and care.
Frontline workers told him about the Surgical Cancer Hub The Royal Marsden and its cancer alliance formed at the start of the pandemic to provide cancer surgery to patients around the country.
As part of the visit, he launched a public appeal to raise the final £8million to complete the Oak Cancer Centre, which is due to open to patients in 2022.
The hospital has a poignant significance for William, because it was the place Princess Diana visited on her first solo engagement in 1982.
Before speaking with patients, the Duke laid a foundation stone for a new cancer centre that will see 400 researchers under the same roof to find new cancer treatments
The prince listened intently as he spoke with staff and patients at the groundbreaking new facility
During his visit, the father-of-three also heard from staff about several studies launched by The Royal Marsden to investigate the impact of COVID-19 on cancer treatment and care
Prince William was appointed President of the hospital in 2007, a position previously held by his mother, Diana, Princess of Wales.
William became President of the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust in 2007, taking over the Presidency from his mother who held the role from 1989 until her death in 1997.
It comes amid a busy few days for the Duke, who yesterday joined Kate Middleton to attend the launch of one of the 112 Hold Still community exhibition sites at Waterloo Station.
The photography contest, launched by the Duchess of Cambridge in May, invited people of all ages from across the UK to submit a photographic portrait which they had taken during lockdown.
Kate and William went on to travel to St. Bartholomew’s Hospital to speak to frontline workers including Joyce Duah, a specialist oncology pharmacist at the hospital.
Frontline workers told the Duke about the Surgical Cancer Hub The Royal Marsden and its cancer alliance formed at the start of the pandemic to provide cancer surgery to patients around the country
During the visit, The Duke met a small number of patients to hear how clinical trials at The Royal Marsden have transformed their lives, and to talk about their experiences of receiving treatment during the pandemic
The Duke also spoke with staff about the impact of Covid-19 on the treatments they have been offering
Prince William was appointed President of the hospital in 2007, a position previously held by his mother, Diana, Princess of Wales
The father-of-three sheltered beneath an umbrella during his day out in rainy London this afternoon
The hospital has a poignant significance for William, because it was the place Princess Diana visited on her first solo engagement in 1982 (pictured, at the Royal Marsden)
Later, they were joined by Good Morning Britain host Kate Garraway outside the hospital.
The royal couple appeared to be being interviewed for the Pride of Britain Awards later this month.
This will be the first time Kate has been involved in the awards, while William last attended the ceremony in 2017.