The Queen: the nation’s nurses pay tribute
UK nursing leaders express sorrow at the death of Queen Elizabeth II and recall the close connections she forged with the profession at home and in the Commonwealth
Nurses across the UK and worldwide have expressed their deep sorrow at the death of the Queen, paying tribute to her work as a champion of nursing throughout her 70-year reign.
As royal patron of organisations including the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) and Queen’s Nursing Institute (QNI) she helped raise the profile of the profession.
During the coronavirus pandemic, she highlighted the efforts of nurses and instituted the COVID-19 award in her Birthday Honours, of which numerous nurses were recipients.
RCN and Queen’s Nurses
The Queen first became involved with the work of the RCN in 1944 when, as a young Princess Elizabeth she became president of the Student Nurses’ Association. Following her coronation in 1953, she became RCN’s royal patron.
RCN general secretary Pat Cullen offered her condolences on behalf of the college, adding that the Queen was a dedicated patron and had a long connection with the nursing community.
‘The Queen visited many nursing staff during her reign and will be fondly remembered by those who had the chance to meet and share their experiences with her,’ she said.
‘Our thoughts are with Her Majesty’s family during this difficult time. She will be missed by nursing staff across the UK.’
‘The Queen was a great supporter of nursing and healthcare throughout her long reign’
Crystal Oldman, chief executive, Queen’s Nursing Institute
In 2002, she became patron of the QNI and QNI Scotland in 2002, assuming the role on the death of the Queen Mother, who had held the position for almost half a century.
In 2007, Her Majesty approved the reinstatement of the title of Queen’s Nurse in England, Wales and Northern Ireland after an absence of 40 years. The Queen’s Nurse title was reintroduced in Scotland in 2017.
‘We will be forever grateful for Her Majesty's support’
QNI chief executive Crystal Oldman said the Queen’s patronage had hugely enhanced the profile and prestige of community nursing.
‘It is with a huge sense of gratitude and respect we remember the leadership and wisdom of the Queen in so many areas of national life,’ she said.
‘The QNI and Queen’s Nurses are inextricably linked to the Queen as our royal patron. Queen’s Nurses have worked in her name as a great supporter of nursing and healthcare throughout her long reign.
‘They will continue to work in the name of Her Majesty the Queen and each and every one of our Queen’s Nurses is deeply saddened by the death of our beloved royal patron.’
QNI Scotland chief executive Clare Cable said: ‘We will be forever grateful for Her Majesty’s support and today we join with so many other organisations and individuals in expressing our sorrow. We extend our condolences to the royal family.’
On social media, nursing leaders, organisations and nurses also posted messages of condolence.
Throughout her exceptional reign, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II shone a light on the nursing and midwifery professions.— Florence Nightingale Foundation (@FNightingaleF) September 8, 2022
The Royal Family’s connection with nursing dates back to Florence Nightingale.
We extend our sincere condolences to the Royal Family.
With sincere respect R.I.P Your Majesty and much love to your family. It is easy to forget that this family has lost a mum, sister, grandmother pic.twitter.com/B4ecJWIyWY— Nicki Credland 💙 (@credland_nicki) September 8, 2022
RIP #QueenElizabeth being awarded the Queens Nurse Title was one of the proudest moments of my life. Having the opportunity to have Queen Elizabeth’s signature on my award will be something I treasure forever @QNI_Scotland pic.twitter.com/iX93yjBRsF— Siobhann Blair QN (@Siobhannp2) September 8, 2022
All of us here at The Student Nurse Project are deeply saddened to hear of the death of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II. Our thoughts are with the Royal Family at this time. pic.twitter.com/0wy9iJY82z— The Student Nurse Project (@StNurseProject) September 8, 2022
Such a sad day on the passing of our Queen. The greatest achievement of my career was becoming a Queen’s Nurse @QNI_Scotland My certificate was personally signed by Her Majesty and i will treasure it forever. God bless you Ma’am ❤️ #QueenElizabethII @ErskineCharity pic.twitter.com/YPiKjWkRJv— Pauline McIntyre QN RGN (@Pollybird1) September 9, 2022
Queen Elizabeth II: a lifetime of support for nurses and nursing
- On 3 July 1945, the then Princess Elizabeth opened the library of the RCN at the college’s headquarters in Cavendish Square, London
- As Queen she opened the headquarters of the RCN Scottish Board in Edinburgh in 1952 and more than 40 years later, in 1994, opened the board’s Edinburgh headquarters
- Each year the Queen signed the Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Awards for Outstanding Service, given to community nurses who have shown exceptional care for patients
- As well as making an annual donation to the QNI from the Privy Purse Charitable Trust, she opened her private garden at Frogmore House in Windsor each year for the National Garden Scheme, which is the biggest single funder of the QNI and supports other nursing charities including Macmillan Cancer Support, Marie Curie and Hospice UK.
Monarch’s connections with nurses across the Commonwealth
On International Nurses’ Day in 2020, the Queen led the royal family in thanking nursing staff for their work during the pandemic, talking about nurses’ ‘very important role’ in a video call with RCN fellow and president of the Commonwealth Nurses and Midwives Federation Kathleen McCourt.
‘This horrible pandemic’
In April, the Queen talked of her own experiences of COVID-19 when she spoke by video call to staff and patients at the Royal London Hospital on the opening of its Queen Elizabeth Unit.
She told nurses and doctors the virus had left her tired and exhausted and empathised with the challenges they had faced during what she called ‘this horrible pandemic’.