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The Prince of Wales visits the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham

7th December 2012

The Prince of Wales has paid a morale-boosting visit to injured troops and the dedicated hospital staff who care for them, in the run up to Christmas.

In what was his eighth official visit to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, in Birmingham, The Prince toured the mixed military ward of the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine today.

He spoke to medics and military staff at what is the UK's dedicated acute and trauma care centre for all servicemen and women injured overseas - in the past few years, Afghanistan.

His Royal Highness has been a long-time supporter of the centre, which hosts civilian and military medical clinicians working side by side.

Arriving today, The Prince first spotted a man outside the main entrance sporting a plaster cast, stopping to ask him "are you all right?" before moving inside.

In the hospital's atrium, he spoke to 14 medics and members of the military medical staff from the specialist ward, watched by a host of on-lookers including patients in dressing gowns, visiting relatives and other hospital workers, many of whom were slightly bemused to find the heir to the throne in their midst.

Wearing the tie of The Mercian Regiment, and a grey pin-striped suit, The Prince also sported lapel pin badges bearing the cap badges of the King's Dragoon Guards, The Parachute Regiment and The Mercians. The Prince spoke to nurses Jacquie Foyle and Johanna Lahleta, who had missed a visit to the hospital by the Queen in July this year after a patient collapsed outside.

This time they were luckier, saying His Royal Highness paid a close interest in the work they did at the hospital. Mrs Foyle, a clinical educator who works on the trauma ward, said: "He asked me what I did and I told him that I teach - and he then asked whether we were recruiting enough clinical staff now and I told him that yes, we now were. "He's very clued-up."

One of the hospital's matrons Davina Thomas said: "I was charmed by him, he's very nice.

"We've met on previous visits and he remembered me.

"He is always very interested in the patients and the staff, and what the individuals' stories are, and the way in which the whole system works."

Having finished the formal welcome, The Prince then moved to the waiting crowd where he shook hands with a dozen people, including Eric Boxold, 74, of Bloxwich, in Walsall, West Midlands. Mr Boxold said: "He asked why I was here, and I told him we were awaiting the outcome of an operation on a relative.

"He said 'I hope they soon get well' and shook my hand.

"I was delighted. I'm a royalist at heart, and it's the first time I've met him."

Also meeting The Prince were members of the charity the British Forces Foundation, which organises morale-boosting events for the troops, and of which The Prince is patron.

The charity's workers were organising a concert in Birmingham this evening, featuring the likes of singer Katie Melua, to entertain all the staff who take a hand in the transfer and treatment of the wounded military personnel who end up at the hospital. Mark Cann, the charity's chief executive, said: "He [Charles] knows us well as a charity, having been our patron since 1999. "So he thanked us for setting up the concert and wished us well."