Prince Charles has thanked all those who have been involved in the development of the Covid-19 vaccine, saying people can “look forward with renewed hope”.
He spoke during a visit with the Duchess of Cornwall to Salisbury Cathedral as the first vaccinations will be administered at dozens of hospital hubs from Tuesday.
The engagement was to mark the 800th anniversary of the founding of the cathedral and the royal couple both wore colourful facemasks to meet guests.
During the service, those attending sat in single chairs at a safe social distance from each other.
Addressing the service, Charles said: “As we gather here, we are profoundly aware of all those who have gone before us, who have bequeathed us the magnificent legacy of this glorious building, and who have maintained the spiritual community which has kept the flame of faith alive here for so many centuries.
“Over the years, that faith has sustained this city and this land through many trials and has done so through the many months of the pandemic we are currently experiencing.
“Over the years, each challenge in turn has been overcome, and that is the case today when, thanks to the inspiring work of all those who have been involved in providing vaccines, we can now look forward with renewed hope.”
Charles also visited Salisbury in the wake of the Novichok poisonings which hit the city in 2018 where he praised residents’ community spirit.
“In your response to the pandemic too, it is clear from all I have seen and heard that you have met every hardship with an even greater resolve,” he said.
“No-one who contemplates this almost impossibly beautiful building can be in any doubt that those who raised it, in the face of every difficulty, have found successors who are their equal in determination.
“That continuity, it seems to me, is crucial. There is a sense in which this cathedral was not completed in 1258 – and has never been completed. Work on it has continued ever since.
“Visitors who believe their view is marred by scaffolding are experiencing what every age has experienced.
“The work of building, of maintaining and of protecting for the future is for us all to take forward, in each generation – as you have done so splendidly here.
“This is a living building; these are living stones, just as the Church of Christ, whose coming we remember at this Advent time, is always meant to be.”
Before leaving, the prince and duchess signed the visitors’ book to mark the occasion.
Salisbury is unique among English cathedrals in having moved from one location to another and that move was the catalyst for the city to develop.
The move from Old Sarum was politically, logistically and commercially audacious, made in defiance of the Kings’ men, with an ambitious building plan that would challenge even modern, technologically advanced builders.
More than 50 years later, the cathedral boasted a 123-metre spire – the tallest medieval spire in the country.