Princess Alexandra visited the Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital in Brighton this afternoon (Wednesday 19 July).
The royal visit by the Queen’s cousin marked the 10th anniversary of the hospital’s move from Dyke Road to Eastern Road, Brighton.
The 80-year-old princess also became the royal patron the Rockinghorse Children’s Charity which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.
She said that she was proud to take the role as the only patron of the Brighton charity. She succeeds her former lady in waiting Lady Mary Mumford who became patron when the charity was founded in 1967.
Lady Mary, also known as Lady Herries of Terregles, was the daughter of the 16th Duke of Norfolk. She died aged 76 in April.
Princess Alexandra said: “I must thank you all for asking me here today. I feel very privileged.
“Congratulations to all the staff who work here. It’s a wonderful place.”
And having been the royal patron of the Royal Alex since 1954, she joked about taking over her new role from Lady Mary, saying: “I think she left this to me in her will.”
Rockinghorse chief executive Ryan Heal said: “To say this is a red letter day for the Rockinghorse Children’s Charity is an understatement … I am thrilled and honoured in equal measure.”
Marianne Griffiths, chief executive of Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals, the trust that runs the Royal Alex, thanked Princess Alexandra for her longstanding support.
She said: “We provide facilities for 45,000 children a year. Our talented staff make the biggest difference to the smallest children here.”
She praised them for achieving an outstanding rating from the official watchdog, the Care Quality Commission (CQC).
And she thanked the Rockinghorse for 50 years of support since it was founded by former consultant paediatrician Trevor Mann.
A four-year-old patient, Esmae Hocken, presented Princess Alexandra with a posy of white roses, supported by her parents and healthcare play specialist Amy Farmer.
The princess promptly picked out one of the roses and presented it to Esmae, who has been in and out of the Royal Alex with nephrotic syndrome, a kidney condition, since she was two.
Mr Heal, Ms Griffiths and Royal Alex clinical director introduced the princess to Rockinghorse supporters and Royal Alex staff including Varadarajan Kalidasan, better known as Kali, who masterminded the children’s hospital’s move to its current home 10 years ago.