Diana, Princess of Wales always impressed upon her sons the importance of being compassionate towards others. Her eldest, The Duke of Cambridge, will be doing just so as he follows in his mother’s footsteps, and visits The Royal Marsden Hospital in Chelsea, London on November 7th.
Just as his mother watched a heart surgery in 1996, The Duke will visit the leading cancer centre’s Wolfson Surgical Suite, and view parts of two surgeries: a pioneering bladder surgery during which surgeons will remove a tumour without removing the bladder, and a breast reconstruction.
Both patients have given their permission for The Prince to be present in the operating theatre.
Post-surgery, His Royal Highness will meet Drs. Pardeep Kumar and Stuart James, the lead surgeons of the operations, and members of the surgical staff. He will not meet the hospital’s other patients on the visit however, though staff have not yet ruled out a meeting later in the day.
Touring The Royal Marsden Hospital was Diana’s first solo engagement in 1982 after her lavish wedding to Charles, The Prince of Wales, and today, the hospital continues to have close ties with their son.
A spokesperson for Kensington Palace had this to say about Prince William: “He is President of the Royal Marsden, so he needs to know about and get to see as much of the work that goes on in there as possible.”
The Duke of Cambridge is the President of The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, a post that he has held since 2007. He took over from his mother who held the position for eight years, from 1989 until her untimely death in 1997.
In 2005, two years before becoming a patron of the hospital, Prince William did a two-day work placement during which he participated in medical research, helped out with catering, spent time in the children’s unit, visited patients and had a hand in fundraising.
A fire broke out in one of the wings in 2008, and The Prince made certain to appear in person to check on the patients and staff. He also dropped in to see how renovation to the damaged wing was moving along.
In 2011, newlyweds William and Catherine toured the Oak Centre for Children and Young People, a Royal Marsden medical unit in Sutton, where they met with youngsters affected by cancer. At the opening of the Centre, Prince William gave an emotional speech, praising the Hospital, and said,
“This place is inspirational. It is not just the extraordinary professionalism and dedication of the Royal Marsden staff. It is not even the great courage and spirit of the children, young people and their families here at Sutton. It is a combination of the two, set in this wonderful environment.”
“I always come away from the Royal Marsden feeling totally uplifted. This facility promises to be an invaluable new addition to our world-leading hospital. Once again, the Royal Marsden is pushing the boundaries, raising standards of excellence and showing the way for others to follow. All of us in this country should be immensely proud of the fundamental role the RMH plays in the global fight against cancer.”
Earlier this year, William recorded a fundraising video for the hospital. “I am extremely proud to be President of The Royal Marsden, an incredible hospital and a world-class cancer centre carrying out ground-breaking work influencing the treatment of cancer patients all over the UK,” he said in January 2013.
The hospital’s ties with royalty began long ago, however.
In 1910, King George V granted a Royal Charter of Incorporation to the Hospital. It was then named the Cancer Hospital.
King Edward VIII later added the word Royal, thus naming it The Royal Marsden Hospital in honour of its founder, Dr. William Marsden who founded the hospital in 1851. It was the “first hospital in the world dedicated to the study and treatment of cancer,” according to The Royal Marsden website.
In 1952, Her Majesty became Patron of The Royal Marsden Hospital.