Queen Elizabeth II and other members of the Royal Family thanked nurses on International Nurses Day on Tuesday, 12 May 2020.

Queen Elizabeth, who is Patron, spoke with Professor Kathleen McCourt, the President of the Commonwealth Nurses and Midwives Federation and Fellow of the Royal College of Nursing. 

The Prince of Wales, The Duchess of Cornwall, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, The Princess Royal, The Countess of Wessex and Princess Alexandra have joined together during video calls to pay tribute to the world’s nurses, speaking with healthcare professionals working in Australia, India, Malawi, Sierra Leone, Bahamas, Cyprus, Tanzania and the UK.

They spoke with nurses about their work, especially the impact of Covid-19 and how they were coping with the pandemic.

Members of The Royal Family reiterated their thanks to nurses across the Commonwealth, during every call, for the incredible work they do on a daily basis. 

Half the global health care workforce consists of nurses and midwives who play a critical role in promoting health, preventing diseases and delivering primary community care.

The Royal Family have numerous nursing affiliations and Patronages. Her Majesty has links – as Royal Patron or President – with over 600 organisations which include the Canadian Nurses Association, Royal Australian Army Nursing Corps, Royal College of Nursing and The Queen’s Nursing Institute.

The Duchess of Cornwall marked International Nurses Day by writing a letter of support to nurses supported by Ronald Dahl’s Marvellous Children Charity, of which Her Royal Highness became Patron of in 2017. The Prince of Wales has supported the vital work of our nurses too.

In July 2019, The Prince launched the Royal College of Nursing which gives young members of uniformed organisations an introduction to a potential career in nursing. Prior to that, in 2018, His Royal Highness also hosted a reception at Buckingham Palace to celebrate frontline nursing in the UK.

Over the week, The Duke of Cambridge spoke to nurses at The Royal Marsden of which he is President. The Duchess of Cambridge is Patron of Nursing Now, a global campaign to improve health by raising the status and profile of nursing. 

This week Nursing Now helped facilitate calls with The Duchess of Cambridge and The Countess of Wessex to nurses in seven different Commonwealth countries, including Aberdeen Women’s Centre (AWC) in Sierra Leone. In January, The Countess visited AWC in FreeTown to see how it supports children and adult survivors of gender-based violence. Their Royal Highnesses also spoke nurses and medical staff in Queensland, Australia, India, Malawi, The Bahamas, Cyprus and The UK.

Over the weekend The Princess Royal called Tanzania to speak with the Programme Manager of a medical ship that provides facilities for those with little or no access to medical care, and is supported by the Vine Trust of which Her Royal Highness is Patron. 

Princess Alexandra, The Queen’s cousin, spoke to the head of the Naval Nursing Service in her role as Patron of Queen Alexandra’s Royal Naval Nursing Service. Her Royal Highness has long-held associations with numerous medical charities including The Florence Nightingale Foundation, St Christopher’s Hospice in Sydenham and The British Red Cross Society. Since becoming Royal Parton of St Christopher’s Hospice in 1881, Princess Alexandra has visited every year since 1982 including in February 2020 to spend time with patients, their families and dedicated staff and volunteers.

Other members of The Royal Family such as The Duke and Duchess of Kent and The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester have proudly supported numerous medical charities such as the Royal Army Medical Corps, Medical Women’s Federation, The Royal Society of Medicine and St Leonard’s Hospice.

Florence Nightingale

International Nurses Day is held on 12 May, the anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth at the Villa Colombaia in Florence, Italy, in 1820.

The founder of modern nursing, Florence Nightingale, c 1860. Photo: Henry Hering

Florence Nightingale is the founder of modern nursing and became famous when she provided care for wounded soldiers during the Crimean War (October 1853 to February 1856).

She established her nursing school at St Thomas’s Hospital in 1860, to provide professional training for nurses.

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