Eugenie had back surgery at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital (RNOH) in London to correct the curvature in her spine in October 2002, when she was 12. The princess had metal rods put in her neck and eight-inch screws up her back, which have now fused together and work to keep her straight. The surgery was a complete success and both Eugenie and Andrew recalled her care as being excellent, Eugenie commenting that her nurses were “all so nice”.
However, both noticed a disparity between this excellent care and the state of the building itself.
Both father and daughter have since become patrons of the RNOH Charity.
In a video for the RNOH Charity in 2012, ten years after Eugenie’s surgery, they explained why they were raising funds for redeveloping the hospital.
They explained that, while the staff on hand were some of the best in the world, the hospital building itself was sorely lacking.
The Duke of York said: “I was slightly bemused by arriving in a hospital, which I was expecting to see really quite a smart hospital, and then I found that you were in huts from the last war.”
On the RNOH website, Eugenie herself is quoted as noticing a similar problem.
She said: “During my recent visit to the hospital’s Stanmore site, where I was treated, I was reminded of the rather run-down condition of the hospital.
“There is a very striking disparity between the quality of the RNOH’s service and the quality of the buildings from which its staff operate.”
The pair were supporting a fundraising effort to get a new hospital built that is fit for purpose.
The Redevelopment Appeal, launched in April 2012, included plans for the Princess Eugenie House, set to contain a new accommodation facility for the families of children being treated at RNOH.
Eugenie said: “The Princess Eugenie House will make families have a better time here with their children.”
The new development is also intended to include a new Independent Living Unit, to assist with rehabilitation after injury.
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The RNOH website states: “The Independent Living Unit will play an integral role in the rehabilitation of patients who have suffered life-changing injury such as spinal cord damage.
“It will enable our medical staff to replicate all potential home situations within the relative safety of the hospital grounds.
“Patients will be able to practice and train in self-care and domestic tasks, such as washing, dressing, eating, drinking and housekeeping.
“This will significantly improve their quality of life, and their ability to live independently after they are discharged and return home.”
Andrew added: “The Redevelopment Appeal for the RNOH has been a gleam in my eye since I became a patron.
“The fact that the government said ‘go ahead, do it’ recognised that doing it on the site of the RNOH at Stanmore is, I think, a testament to the fact that this is one of the three premier global institutions for orthopaedics.
“This is the place to do it and I am delighted as a patron to be able to support the activities of RNOH in their attempt to raise the necessary funds that are needed to reach their eventual aim and objective.”
The RNOH recently became an orthopaedic trauma centre for the first time since 1983.