Charles 'astounded' by nurses who responded to terror attacks and Grenfell fire

The Prince of Wales has praised the "unsung and unseen" hard work of Britain's nurses at a special event at Buckingham Palace.

Accompanied by the Countess of Wessex, Charles met over 350 frontline nursing staff from across the country, including first responders to last year's terror attacks and Grenfell Tower fire.

Speaking to a roomful of nurses, the prince said: "Having spoken to a few of you here this evening, I have been astounded by some of the stories I have heard, particularly from individuals responding
to harrowing incidents."

The Countess of Wessex also attended (Dominic Lipinski/PA)
The Countess of Wessex also attended (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

The prince - who will share his 70th birthday this year with the 70th anniversary of the National Health Service - used the evening to recount one of his first hospital memories.

He said: "I was rushed to Great Ormond Street with a rapidly expanding appendix. I have never forgotten how wonderful I was looked after by the nurses there.

"In fact, when I went to go back home to Windsor Castle, I didn't want to leave."

Melanie Davies, who won the Royal College of Nursing's 2017 Nurse of the Year award, said: "I just can't believe it. I'm speechless. It is just such a privilege to be here.

"Nursing is always in the headlines for the pay, or lack of, so it's just nice to be acknowledged. We are doing a great job."

Charles also acknowledged the recruitment crisis among young nurses.

The Prince of Wales speaks at the reception to celebrate frontline nursing (Dominic Lipinski/PA)
The Prince of Wales speaks at the reception to celebrate frontline nursing (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Talking to Zoe Butler, who won Student Nurse of the Year in 2017, he brought up the issue of how fewer people are choosing to enter the profession.

Ms Butler said: "He brought up the issue of the recruitment crisis.

"It is really nice they are bringing the younger generation into the event tonight, especially with the recruitment issues nursing is facing."

Ms Butler, who is actively seeking new ways to encourage young people to enter the profession, added: "It is humbling to be here - and quite bizarre. I have only been a nurse for six months, so to be asked to come to the palace was amazing."

One guest, Josie Barcial, a care home nurse from Oxfordshire, had a particular reason to be excited at the event.

She said: "When I first wanted to come to the UK to be a nurse, the interviewer asked me why I wanted to come to this country and work.

"I told him it was because I wanted to see Buckingham Palace! And here I am this evening. I can't quite believe it.

"My career gave me my biggest wish. I'm so delighted."