To HRH Princess Alexandra

To HRH Princess Alexandra, in her role as patron of the Florence Nightingale Museum

Your Royal Highness

We write with concern about the projected placement of a statue to honour Mary Seacole as the “Pioneer Nurse” at St Thomas’ Hospital. Press reports state that you have been designated the person to unveil this statue. Yet you are a patron of the Florence Nightingale Museum and of the Florence Nightingale Foundation.

We wish to make it clear that we do not oppose honouring Seacole for her own life and work, but rather the appropriating to her the work of Florence Nightingale, who was not only Britain’s “pioneer nurse” but the major founder of nursing throughout the world, work based at St Thomas’ Hospital. The hospital design itself was influenced by Nightingale–the three pavilions not destroyed in World War II plus the governors’ court and chapel. The hospital originally built on the site was of the then innovative, safe “pavilion” design, and architects came from America and Europe to see it.

The fact that St Thomas’ faces Parliament only adds to the offence, for Seacole had nothing to do with political change for health care, while Nightingale throughout her life wrote briefs for Parliament and lobbied Cabinet members and MPs on key needed reforms.

The board of the Guy’s-St Thomas’ NHS Trust made its decision in favour of a statue on the basis of massive misinformation provided to it by the Seacole Memorial Appeal Campaign, misinformation which it then further circulated. For further information see

We understand the desire of many people to celebrate a black heroine and make her a role model, but we do not believe that the end justifies the means, that the work and reputation of anyone else should be denigrated in the process, or that false “information” should be used to justify the claims made for the honoree.