Yesterday evening, Princess Alexandra attended a service at Westminster Abbey to remember the life of nurse Florence Nightingale.
Alexandra, 80, is patron of the Florence Nightingale Foundation, and was joined by nurses, midwives, and other medical support staff proudly wearing their uniforms to commemorate the life and work of the famous nurse.
The service is an annual fixture, and started with a procession of nurses and midwives carrying the nurse’s iconic oil lamp from the Florence Nightingale Chapel; they then gave it to the Dean of Westminster Abbey, the Very Reverend Dr John Hall, who placed it on the High Altar at the front of the Abbey, representing the transmission of knowledge in nursing.
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Florence Nightingale is famous for her work in the Crimean war, where she introduced order, and health and safety standards to the medical profession. She is considered a pioneer of nursing, with St Thomas’ hospital in Westminster housing a museum to her work. Mary Seacole was her contemporary, as a Jamaican-Scottish volunteer nurse on the front lines of the war.
Her family were offered a burial for the nurse in Westminster Abbey, which was declined, due to provisions in her will and she is buried at Wellow in Hampshire.
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The British Commonwealth Nurses’ Roll of Honour was brought out, to remember the nurses and medics who gave their lives in the Second World War while caring for the sick and wounded.
The Dean said: “We come into the presence of almighty God to offer our worship, praise, and thanksgiving. In particular, we thank God for Florence Nightingale: for her enterprise and heroism, and for the example she has left us.
“We pray that her ideals of compassion, quality of care, and training may continue to inspire and sustain nurses everywhere. We praise God for all those nurses who, like her, have carried the lamp of healing into the dark places of our world.
— Roz Blackboro (@Rozboro) May 17, 2017
“Let us prepare to hear and receive God’s holy word and to bring before God the needs of our world. Let us remember with pride the vocation we have each received, and prepare to dedicate ourselves anew to the service of all in need.”
Princess Alexandra’s work is often overshadowed by more high profile royals, but she carries out an extensive number of duties each year, including her active involvement in various medical charities; the Florence Nightingale Foundation, her patronage of the Blackie Foundation Trust, which promotes research and education in homeopathy, her patronage of the Royal Alexandra Hospital for Sick Children in Brighton, Core, which researches digestive diseases, and through her honorary fellowships of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow, of the Royal College of Anaesthetists, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, and the Royal College of Physicians.