To HRH the Duchess of Cornwall

To HRH the Duchess of Cornwall

HRH the Duchess of Cornwall
Clarence House
London SW1 1BA

December 10, 2012


We have written to HM the Queen, the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cambridge and HRH Princess Alexandra concerning the projected placement of a statue to honour Mary Seacole as the “Pioneer Nurse” at St Thomas’ Hospital: the Queen particularly as she has already opened the Mary Seacole Building at Brunel University; Princess Alexandra as it has been suggested that the Palace would ask her to unveil the statue planned for St Thomas’ Hospital. We believe that you should be informed as well, in case you are asked to open a building or unveil a statue.

We wish to make clear that we do not oppose honouring Seacole for her own work, but rather her being credited with the achievements of Florence Nightingale, and more widely, entirely fictional achievements, such as being awarded three medals for bravery during the Crimean War.

Nightingale was demonstrably not only Britain’s “pioneer nurse” but the major founder of nursing throughout the world. Even the design of St Thomas’ Hospital was influenced by her, and can be seen in the three pavilions that survived bombing in the Second World War. The 1871 hospital originally built on the site was opened by Queen Victoria. It 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 needed reforms.

On the misinformation now in circulation about Seacole see On Nightingale see:

We understand the desire of many people to celebrate a black heroine. However, we do not believe that the work and reputation of another person should be denigrated in the process, or that false “information” should be used to justify the claims made for the honouree.

A reply by your staff would be appreciated: to

Yours sincerely