The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have phoned colleagues of one of the first frontline NHS hospital workers to die after contracting coronavirus.
Consultant Amged El-Hawrani died on Saturday at Glenfield Hospital in Leicester.
Prince William and Catherine rang staff from Queen’s Hospital Burton to talk about Mr El-Hawrani, offer sympathy and praise their “incredible” efforts.
The 55-year-old was described as “fit and healthy” before he was infected.
The duke and duchess chatted via speaker phone on Wednesday from their Norfolk home to a number of staff whose shifts had been arranged so they were able to step away from duties without patient care suffering.
Taking part were Gavin Boyle, chief executive of University Hospitals of Derby and Burton NHS Foundation Trust, and six staff from the hospital.
Adrian Thompson, an ear, nose and throat (ENT) consultant who had worked with Mr El-Hawrani for 14 years, spoke to Prince William and Catherine and said: “We are all aware of the seriousness of Covid but when it takes the life of one of our own it hits us a bit harder.
“Their royal highnesses were very empathetic in offering their condolences and they were really sorry to hear we had lost a colleague.”
During the call the duke said: “We’d just like to say from the two of us how proud we are of all of you, and how amazingly you are all doing under extreme circumstances.”
William went on to say: “I know all of you see this as your job and that you get on with it, but this is a different level and you are doing an incredible job.
“The whole country is proud of you, so thank you for everything you’re doing and all the hours you are putting in.”
Accident and emergency nurse Brogan Bishop said: “We’ve been really busy. It’s stressful.”
She added: “I can’t wait to go back and tell my colleagues how wonderful they think we are.”
Hospital spokesman Emily Johnson said the call had boosted morale, adding: “It genuinely felt like they shared in our grief.”