Prince Charles shared his own personal anguish in a message to mark the start of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan. In his video message to the British Muslim community, the Prince of Wales praised their sacrifice in staving off the coronavirus pandemic and their service as NHS frontline staff or in other roles as key workers. The video took an emotional turn when Charles mentioned that he had been left “heartbroken” this week after hearing about the “tragic story” of 13-year-old Ismail Mohamed Abdulwahab, who died alone after contracting COVID-19.
The otherwise healthy teenage boy from Brixton, London is thought to have been the first child in the UK to die after testing positive for COVID-19.
He was admitted to London’s King’s College Hospital on March 26 and tested positive for coronavirus the following day.
Even at his own funeral this week, mourners had to abide by social distancing guidelines and only his immediate family were able to attend due to self-isolation orders.
In the message, Prince Charles said: “I was utterly heartbroken by the tragic story of Ismail Mohamed Abdulwahab, a previously healthy 13-year-old boy, who passed away without the comfort of having his family by his side.”
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He continued: “Every bereavement, from whatever cause, is made even harder for families by the current restrictions on funerals.
“I can only too well understand how agonising this must be for those affected and I know their enormous sense of grief will be shared by countless others – including myself.
“Under these appallingly challenging circumstances, my wife and I can only offer you all our kindest and most special wishes and stress just how greatly the contribution of Muslims to the life of the United Kingdom is appreciated and valued.”
The holy month, when Muslims fast from dawn till sunset, is taking place in unprecedented circumstances this year with many families unable to gather together for food or go to the mosque.
Prince Charles passed on his sympathies with the families of Muslim doctors and nurses whose loved ones had died from coronavirus.
He continued: “Many British Muslims, of course, will spend this Ramadan on the frontline of the COVID crisis, working in our NHS or in other key roles.
“Most tragically, I know that a number of highly experienced and invaluable doctors and nurses from the Muslim community have lost their lives to this pernicious virus.
“To their families and colleagues, I can only convey my deepest possible sympathy; and to everyone on the front line, of whatever religion, I offer my profound admiration and heartfelt gratitude for everything they are doing – for all of us.”
Prince Charles added: “In different circumstances, this would have been a joyous time, mosques would be filling with life, Muslim families would be coming together to share food and prayers and many of them would be inviting their neighbours and friends of all faiths and none to join them.
“This year, of course, due to our ongoing public health crisis, none of this will be possible in the usual way.”
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has sent his own personal message praising NHS staff from minority backgrounds.
More than 16 per cent of people who have tested positive for COVID-19 when they died were from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities.
Mr Hancock also introduced new procedures around funerals “so we can limit the risk of infection while wherever possible giving people’s closest loved ones the chance to say goodbye”.