Prince William Makes Special Hospital Visit

Prince William made a surprise visit to a hospital general hospital in Suffolk, England last week, delighting patients and staff alike. The Prince of Wales dropped in on Ipswich Hospital where he "thanked staff and found out more about our local NHS." His visit was documented in tweets by the trust that funds that hospital.

Four photos showed Prince William's informal visit with hospital staffs and patients. He stood arm-in-arm with nurses, doctors, EMTs and administrators outside by an ambulance, chatted with them at a service desk for one floor and saw how they carried out their life-saving work throughout the facility. The prince wore a face mask inside the hospital but smiled broadly in the photos taken outdoors. The trust's tweet thanked him for this impromptue visit while acknowledging that it was a bit of a stressful surprise.

"It's not every day the future king drops in!" the post read. "Thanks to Prince William for visiting NHS staff at Ipswich Hospital today. The prince thanked staff and found out more about our local NHS."

Ipswich Hospital is considered a large district general hospital under the healthcare system of the U.K. The East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust took over management of the hospital in 2018 when two previous NHS trusts were merged. However, the hospital itself has been open since 1889.

The U.K.'s National Health Service (NHS) is publicly funded, unlike the United States' privately funded system. NHS is an umbrella term for the publicly funded systems that have been in place since 1948 in the U.K. as one of the biggest social reforms enacted after the end of World War II. However, patients may still be required to pay prescription drug charges depending on their age.

While the British crown generally doesn't wield any legislative or executive power these days, the royal family can still wield immense political influence. For Prince William, a visit to an NHS general hospital is a savvy public relations maneuver but it could also be construed with all sorts of political connotations. Prince William is a patron of The Association of NHS Charities, which carries out fundraising and advocates for healthcare workers throughout the U.K. The organization has seen a massive increase in interest since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

This could signal a major interest for Prince William as he assumes a more prominent role for the royal family. The Prince of Wales has promised to continue exploring the role of the royal family in the modern day, and this is clearly an aspect he is interested in.