During Holyrood Week, Prince Charles – also known as The Duke of Rothesay when in Scotland – visited the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh on Wednesday, after being announced as the new Patron of the organisation.
The heir to the throne has taken over the patronage from his late father, the Duke of Edinburgh, who passed away in April 2021.
During the visit, Charles gave a speech where he recalled memories of Prince Philip. He notes how he ‘enormously touched and flattered’ to be following in his father’s footsteps, and jokingly said ‘what he would have said if he knew I was succeeding him – I don’t know.’
The Prince recalled the conversation he had where the pair spoke about the Duke’s 100th birthday. He shared the same documentary last year as the Royal Family remembered the late Duke: “What I do know is the last conversation I had with him, I was saying to him, he was nearly deaf, and I said, ‘We’ve been talking about some kind of reception for your 100th birthday,’ and he said, ‘What?’ and I said, ‘We’ve been talking about your 100th birthday,’ and he said, ‘Well I’ve got to be alive for it.’
“And, sadly, he wasn’t. He always told me he didn’t really want to be 100.”
Prince Charles said he knew how much Philip ‘valued his connection with the Royal College’ and he is ‘full of admiration’ for they work the staff carry out, especially ‘during this terrible pandemic which has caused agony, burdens and challenges in a way nobody could ever have predicted, or thought would have been the case.’
He concluded his speech by saying: “We owe, as always, an immense depth of gratitude to all of you I know put so many hours and so much of your life and emotion and skills into helping people who are going through very difficult times and all I can say is thank you and I’m very proud indeed to be involved in such an eminent organisation.”
Charles viewed a new sculpture, which has been dedicated to NHS workers highlighting their work during the pandemic. It was created by sculpture artist and professor of sculpture at Edinburgh College of Art, Kenny Hunter.
The first of its kind in Scotland, the sculpture shows four life-size figures in scrubs ‘experiencing a moment of reflection’ at the end of a shift on a COVID ward. It’s entitled ‘Your next breath’ and highlights the impact of the virus on the respiratory system and how the pandemic affects and involves everyone.
The Duke of Rothesay also saw a painting of Prince Philip. The portrait of Philip was painted in 1958 by Sir Walter Oliphant Hutchison (1889-1970) depicting his first visit to the College, which hangs alongside past College Presidents.
The Duke of Edinburgh served as Patron of The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh for 66 years, becoming Patron in 1954. The Prince Consort accepted an Honorary Fellowship from the Royal College in 1955 and opened the renovated Surgeons’ Hall Museums and the Prince Philip Building in 2015.
Professor Michael Griffin OBE, President of the RCSEd, said: “It is a privilege to welcome HRH The Duke of Rothesay as Patron of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh. The Duke of Edinburgh played a very significant part in the College’s history during His Royal Highness’ 66 years as Patron, which we recognised in 2015 by constructing the Prince Philip Building.”
“The Duke’s engagement with Fellows and officers at the opening of the building was extraordinary, and throughout his patronage His Royal Highness took great interest in the surgical profession and its advancement of patient care.”