If the Queen loves the NHS so much, why do they use it so little?

If the royal family love the NHS so much, why do they use it so little? Queen and Prince Philip opted for private London hospital – while Kate Middleton and Princess Eugenie gave birth on exclusive maternity wards

  • Queen, 95, awarded George Cross to NHS for seven decades of public service 
  • Royal highlighted bravery and said gallantry medal would recognise ‘all staff’
  • In handwritten message, she said NHS had ‘enduring thanks’ of ‘grateful nation’
  • However it’s unclear how often the royal family actually use the organisation    
  • Queen, Philip, Prince Charles and Camilla have been regularly treated privately 
  • Kate Middleton, Eugenie and Meghan Markle all gave birth at exclusive wards 

While the Queen and the Duke of Cambridge are celebrating the NHS’ 73rd birthday today, questions remain over how much members of the royal family actually use the service.

The monarch, 95, has awarded the George Cross to the NHS for seven decades of public service as she praised the ‘courage, compassion and dedication’ shown by staff and said the organisation had the ‘enduring thanks’ of a ‘grateful nation’.

Meanwhile Prince William, 39, is set to attend a service of thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral before hosting an afternoon tea at Buckingham Palace.

But it remains unclear whether either the Queen or the Duke have ever been treated by NHS staff. The monarch has a medical team at Buckingham Palace, while other members of the royal family are often seen being treated at private hospitals, like King Edward VII in London, when they have a health issue. 

While the Queen, 95, awarded the George Cross to the NHS for seven decades of public service today, it is unknown if the royal has ever been treated by the organisation (pictured, leaving private hospital King Edward VII Hospital in 2003 after knee surgery)

Before his death, Prince Philip spent a month in private King Edward VII Hospital in London (pictured, leaving the hospital)

When suffering a health problem or ailment, members of the royal family are most often treated at exclusive private London hospital King Edward VII.

Patients have included The Queen, Prince Philip, Camilla, Prince Charles and Kate Middleton over the years.  

The Prince of Wales had laser keyhole surgery to repair his right knee at the private hospital in 1999, before undergoing a hernia operation at the London clinic in 2004.

In 2003, the Queen underwent a 45 minute operation at the King Edward VII Hospital in London to remove a torn cartilage in her right knee. 

The Duchess of Cornwall is among the royals who have been treated at King Edward VII’s, having had a hysterectomy at the private hospital in 2012 (pictured, in 2012) 


Meanwhile modern royals tend to give birth in exclusive private maternity wards (pictured left, Kate Middleton on the steps of The Lindo Wing, where she gave birth to Prince George, Charlotte and Louis, and right, Eugenie gave birth at The Portland). 

As the Queen and Prince William celebrate the NHS’ birthday, just how often do the royals ACTUALLY use the service? 

1990 – NHS – Prince Charles undergoes surgery at Queen’s Medical Centre after breaking his arm

1991 – unknown if NHS or private – Prince William has surgery for a skull fracture at Great Ormond Street Hospital

1999 – private – Prince Charles has laser keyhole surgery to repair his right knee at King Edward VII’s Hospital

2001 – private – Sophie Wessex has surgery for ectopic pregnancy at King Edward VII Hospital

2002 – unknown if NHS or private – Eugenie has surgery at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital to correct scoliosis 

2003 – unknown if NHS or private – Sophie Wessex gives birth at Frimley Park Hospital. Lady Louis is treated at St George’s Hospital in Tooting 

2003 – private – the Queen has a 45 minute operation at the King Edward VII Hospital in London to remove a torn cartilage in her right knee

2004 – private – Prince Charles has a hernia operation at King Edward VII’s Hospital

2012 – private –  Duchess of Cornwall underwent a hysterectomy at King Edward VII Hospital

Private – Kate Middleton – treatment for accute morning sickness at King Edward VII Hospital 

2013 – private – The Queen has treatment for gastroenteritis at King Edward VII Hospital

2013 – private – Kate Middleton gives birth to Prince George at the Lindo Wing at St Mary’s Hospital 

2014 – unknown if NHS or private – Lady Louise has surgery to correct a severe squint

2015 – private – Kate Middleton gives birth to Princess Charlotte at the Lindo Wing at St Mary’s Hospital 

2018 – private – Prince Philip has a hip replacement at King Edward’s VII Hospital

Private – the Queen – has planned and successful surgery to remove a cataract 

Private – Kate Middleton gives birth to Prince Louis at the Lindo Wing at St Mary’s Hospital 

2019 – private – Meghan Markle gives birth to her son at The Portland Hospital 

2021 – unknown if NHS or private – Prince Philip undergoes testing for a pre-existing heart condition at St Bartholomew’s Hospital

Private – Princess Eugenie gives birth to her son at The Portland Hospital 

 

Meanwhile the Duchess of Cornwall had a hysterectomy at the private hospital in 2012.

Kate has also been treated at the private hospital, having been admitted while suffering acute morning sickness during her 2012 pregnancy with Prince George. 

In 2018, both Prince Philip and the Queen were treated at King Edward VII within months of each other, with the Duke of Edinburgh undergoing a hip replacement.

The Queen was treated as a day patient at the private hospital when she had planned and successful surgery to remove a cataract.

And earlier this year, Prince Philip spent two weeks admitted to the hospital, moving briefly to NHS trust St Bartholomew’s Hospital for testing for a pre-existing heart condition.

Meanwhile modern members of the royal family have chosen not to give birth on the NHS, and instead opt for private hospitals and exclusive maternity wards. 

The Duchess of Cambridge welcomed all three of her children at the private Lindo Wing at  St Mary’s Hospital.

The maternity ward, is part of St Mary’s hospital which is an NHS hospital, and comes under the Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust. 

The  exclusive maternity ward in Paddington has had a number of high profile clients, with prices starting at an eye-watering £5,900 for a one-night stay, with a stay in one of the suites closer to £7,500. 

Meanwhile both Princess Eugenie and Meghan Markle gave birth at the exclusive maternity ward, The Portland.

Childbirth packages start from £15,000 and can cost up to £20,000. 

Occasionally, members of the royal family are treated at hospitals which offer treatment to both private and NHS patients. Details of whether royal surgeries are carried out on the NHS are not usually not released. 

In 1991, Prince William, then 8-years-old, underwent surgery for a skull fracture at Great Ormond Street Hospital after being hit by a golf club while playing with schoolmates.   

While GOSH treats very sick UK children on the National Health Service (NHS), within the hospital there is also a private patient unit, the International and Private Care (sometimes referred to as the Harris International Centre). 

Meanwhile in November 2003, Sophie Wessex nearly died while giving birth to her first child, Louise, at NHS hospital Frimley Park Hospital, which also treats private patients.  

The moment the baby was born, weighing just 4lb 9oz, she was taken from her mother and rushed to St George’s Hospital in Tooting, London, for special care.

Sophie, meanwhile, was just 15 minutes from death. 

She was losing massive amounts of blood and had slipped into a semi-conscious state. It took a massive blood transfusion — around nine pints — before she regained any kind of stability. 

Sophie, who almost died as a result of her blood loss, was too ill to be moved to be with her baby for six days. 

Prince Edward’s wife went on to give birth to her son James in the hospital, and has made a series of emotional visits to the neonatal unit to meet with staff.  

In 2018, the Queen underwent cataract surgery, which she had at private hospital King Edward VII (Pictured: The Queen on June 1 2018 wearing shades)

Kate has also been treated at the private hospital, having been admitted while suffering acute morning sickness during her 2012 pregnancy with Prince George

And Princess Eugenie remains patron for NHS hospital Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital (RNOH) which treated her for the rare condition of scoliosis when she was 12. 

King Edward VII Hospital in London: Royals’ favourite where Philip, the Queen, Charles, Kate and the Queen Mother have all been treated – and where Princess Margaret sadly died

King Edward VII became the hospital’s first patron in 1901 and it continues to be recognised by the royal family today 

The hospital, which only has 56 beds across its wards, was set up in 1899 to treat former servicemen and the general public as soldiers returned from the Second Boer War.

King Edward VII became the hospital’s first patron in 1901 and it continues to be recognised by the royal family today.

In recent years, it has been used by Queen Elizabeth, Princess Margaret, the Queen Mother, Prince Philip, Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cambridge. 

In 1995, the Queen Mother had her right hip replaced during an operation at the hospital. 

The 90-minute operation was carried out at the famous hospital and she had had treatment there before.

Meanwhile, in 2002, Princess Margaret suffered a stroke and died at the hospital at the age of 71.   

Eugenie underwent surgery on her spine at the age of 12 so titanium could be added to repair the curvature which scoliosis had caused.

The scar was also brought to the forefront of public attention on Eugenie’s wedding day to husband Jack Brooksbank.

The princess chose a stunning gown with a drop back that showed off her scar. Speaking at the time, Eugenie said it was important to highlight her journey with the condition. 

Earlier today, the Queen awarded the George Cross to the NHS for seven decades of public service including battling coronavirus as she praised the ‘courage, compassion and dedication’ shown by staff and said the organisation had the ‘enduring thanks’ of a ‘grateful nation’.

In a personal handwritten message on Windsor Castle-headed paper, Her Majesty highlighted the bravery exhibited by frontline workers during the pandemic and said Britain’s highest civilian gallantry medal would recognise ‘all NHS staff, past and present’ on the NHS’ 73rd birthday today.   

She wrote: ‘It is with great pleasure, on behalf of a grateful nation, that I award the George Cross to the National Health Services of the United Kingdom. This award recognises all NHS staff, past and present, across all disciplines and all four nations.

‘Over more than seven decades, and especially in recent times, you have supported the people of our country with courage, compassion and dedication, demonstrating the highest standards of public service. You have our enduring thanks and heartfelt appreciation.’

The award of the George Cross by The Queen is made on the advice of the George Cross Committee and the Prime Minister. Details of the presentation of the award will be confirmed at a later date. 

It is not yet clear if all NHS staff will be sent a copy of Her Majesty’s rare handwritten letter – but they will not get to use ‘GC’ after their names, because the award is to the NHS as an organisation, not individuals.

As the Queen honoured the NHS and its heroes, the Duke of Cambridge will take the lead and celebrate the 73rd anniversary of the NHS.

He will attend a service of thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral this morning before hosting an afternoon tea at Buckingham Palace. 

The hospital, which only has 56 beds across its wards, was set up in 1899 to treat former servicemen and the general public as soldiers returned from the Second Boer War

The George Cross was instituted by King George VI on September 24, 1940 during the height of the Blitz, and is granted in recognition of ‘acts of the greatest heroism or of the most courage in circumstances of extreme danger’.

NHS staff, many on the frontline, have risked their lives to treat Covid patients. Hundreds have died from the virus and many more are suffering long-term effects. NHS workers have also helped to administer 79million jabs and have treated 405,000 seriously ill Covid hospital patients in England alone, often in swelteringly hot PPE.

The strain has left many mentally and physically drained. 

The official citation for the award said it was given to recognise ‘the collective courage and dedication’ of all NHS workers during the pandemic. It said the fight against Covid was ‘the greatest public health emergency’ in NHS history and praised its staff for their response. 

In November 2003, Sophie Wessex nearly died while giving birth to her first child, Louise, at Frimley Park Hospital. It is unknown whether she was treated on the NHS or privately at the hospital

Princess Eugenie remains patron for NHS hospital Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital (RNOH) which treated her for the rare condition of scoliosis when she was 12 (pictured, showing her scar on her wedding day) 

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