Our royal links reaffirmed | News from St Bartholomew's

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Our royal links reaffirmed

King Charles meeting nursing staff in the square at Barts

His Majesty King Charles is to be the patron of both the Royal London hospital and the Barts Heritage charity that oversees historic renovations at St Bartholomew’s.

Buckingham Palace confirmed the King had accepted both posts following a review of the patronages held by his late mother, himself as the former Prince of Wales, and the former Duchess of Cornwall.

The review analysed royal patronage and presidencies of over a thousand different organisations following the King’s accession to the throne in 2022.

The late Queen was patron of The Royal London hospital, and as Prince of Wales, Charles took on the patronage of Barts Heritage in 2021. 

Patronage is a relationship between an organisation and an individual member of the royal family, so does not automatically pass to a new monarch. It is distinct from an organisation having a royal charter, which is a legal status granted by the Crown and held until withdrawn.

King Charles, then Prince of Wales, visits The Royal London HospitalThe Royal London was granted a royal charter in 1990 when its name was changed from the London hospital, but according to our archivist Kate Jarman, the late Queen’s patronage pre-dated this.

St Bartholomew’s has been a royal hospital since it was re-founded by Henry VIII in 1546-7. The royal charter gave it the title “The House of the Poor in West Smithfield in the Suburbs of the City of London of King Henry the Eighth’s Foundation.”

When the NHS was created in 1948 and the hospital was taken over by the Ministry of Health, its name was formally changed under statutory instrument to “The Royal Hospital of St Bartholomew.” 

The hospital previously had a monarch as patron under Edward VII (1901-1910) but for many years the royal patron has been the Duke of Gloucester. King Charles III himself visited the hospital in 2022 as part of the Barts900 anniversary celebrations, a year after he visited the North Wing in his capacity as patron of Barts Heritage.   

Prof Charles Knight, chief executive of St Bartholomew’s, said: “King Charles has been a strong supporter of our efforts to preserve the heritage of St Bartholomew’s, and when he visited the hospital he made a point of thanking the staff who looked after his late father, the Duke of Edinburgh. So we look forward to continuing our royal relationship as it is also renewed at the Royal London.”

Neil Ashman, chief executive of the Royal London and Mile End hospitals added: “It is an honour to continue our patronage with His Majesty The King. Over the years we have had many special visits from The Royal Family and each brings lasting and happy memories to the staff they meet.”

Pictured top: King Charles meets with nursing staff on a visit to St Bartholomew's hospital; below: the king, then the Prince of Wales, visits the Royal London hospital following the 2017 London Bridge attack; below: the king cuts a cake in the historic North Wing at St Bartholomew's to mark its 900th anniversary.

The King cuts a cake to celebrate Barts Heritage's success

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