Watch as Prince Harry tours Sheffield Children's Hospital
Prince Harry laughed as a young patient pulled his beard, was presented with gifts for his baby son and hugged a tearful former nurse dressed in a bear suit who had met his mother Princess Diana.
It is fair to say the Duke of Sussex had an eventful visit to Sheffield Children’s Hospital today.
HRH was greeted with much fanfare from the waving crowds in the morning sunshine as he arrived to officially open a new £40 million wing at the hospital.
He followed in the footsteps of his mother, HRH Diana, Princess of Wales, who also opened a new wing at the hospital in 1989.
In a touching nod to that event some 30 years ago, The Duke added his name alongside his mother’s in the visitor’s book and was shown pictures of her touring the wards.
That link to the past would continue as he met with Julie Austin, a former nurse who met Princess Diana all those years ago.
Though her royal appointment was far less formal this time, for she was dressed in the sweltering heat as Theo Bear – the hospital’s mascot.
In her guise as the cuddly bear, the 65-year-old Fulwood woman and The Duke shared a hug.
Mrs Austin said: “I knew I would not be able to tell him as I would be dressed as a bear so I wrote him a letter instead last night.
“Someone must have told him because he whispered in my ear ‘I hear you met my mum’ and then said ‘can I give you a hug?’.
“He was just like his mum, very friendly and approachable. I was in tears.”
After unveiling a plaque to mark the official opening of the wing before a crowd of hundreds of cheering people, he was presented with a teddy bear and a blanket emblazoned with his son Archie’s name.
George Marriott, chair of the hospital’s youth forum, presented the gifts and said: “He was thrilled to receive the gifts and said he really liked them.”
Prince Harry also met young patients on the new wards – one of which was certainly not overawed by the occasion.
As The Duke spoke to mum Tracy Nicholson, her one-year-old son Noah reached up and grabbed his beard, prompting the royal to playfully ask if he had “ever seen a beard before.”
Ms Nicholson, aged 36, of Grimsby, told how her son has been in the hospital a lot since he was born premature and added: “He is used to seeing adults and seeing the staff so he wasn’t scared. He loved his beard!”
Prince Harry also learned about how all 72 new children’s beds have a fold-out bed next to them, giving parents a comfortable place to stay with their child.
Youngsters in the new play room also made room for the royal to join in the fun as they played in the ‘rainbow rice’.
Next The Duke took a tour of the plaster room where children can pick their cast colour, add glitter and choose different characters to make the experience more fun.
The new wing, which has actually been operational since last year, does not yet have a name and hospital bosses are considering running a competition to give it a moniker.
After the fun but also poignant visit, the royal continued his visit in the Steel City at Sheffield Hallam University where he found out more about research into virtual reality, which makes it easier for amputees to train themselves to use prosthetic limbs.
The Duke was due to meet academics and students working with the World Health Organisation and the United Nations, who have developed innovative new technology to provide alerts and assistance to field staff working in inhospitable and dangerous parts of the world.
He also spoke with engineering students at the university who will present a racing car they built, and raced at Silverstone the previous week.
Then Prince Harry was set to head over to the English Institute of Sport to take in the action at the Invictus UK Trials, which are taking place at venues across the city this week.
He set up the competition, with the first event held in London in 2014.
The Sheffield trials will see wounded and injured ex-servicemen and women compete for the right to represent the UK in The Hague, Netherlands, in 2020.