Prince William Follows in Princess Diana’s Footsteps by Laying Foundation Stone for Cancer Hospital

WPA-Rota/Press Association Images Prince William

Prince William followed in the footsteps of his late mother Princess Diana on Wednesday by laying a foundation stone at a cancer hospital.

The royal took part in the ceremony at the Royal Marsden in Sutton, Surrey, to start the building the Oak Cancer Centre, a state-of-the-art research and treatment facility. It comes 30 years after his mother Diana, who died in 1997, carried out a similar task by laying the ceremonial foundation stone commemorating the Chelsea Wing at The Royal Marsden in central London.

The hospital’s Oak Cancer Centre will place over 400 researchers under the same roof as patients, helping to accelerate the development of new treatments for cancer.

In a speech, William, 38, said, “I am personally delighted to be with you today to lay the foundation stone of the Oak Centre, 30 years after my mother did the very same thing at The Royal Marsden in Chelsea, commemorating the building of the Chelsea Wing.”

WPA-Rota/Press Association Images Prince William

WPA-Rota/Press Association Images Prince William

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He went on to “acknowledge the unimaginable challenges that all those at the Marsden have faced this year,” during the coronavirus pandemic. “The knock-on effects of coronavirus have been felt widely, but the impact on cancer treatment for patients up and down the country has been one of the most acute and challenging.”

During his visit, he met a small group of patients to hear how clinical trials at The Royal Marsden have transformed their lives and to talk about their experiences of receiving treatment during the pandemic.

Terry Fincher/Princess Diana Archive/Getty Images Princess Diana at the Royal Marsden Hospital in Chelsea, London

“Earlier this morning I was privileged to meet patients who all spoke about the exceptional care they received, and how they felt safe in very difficult and often frightening times,” he added.

“As well as providing outstanding care, The Royal Marsden continues to be at the cutting edge of cancer research globally. As we heard from Alex, developments in cancer research made here have changed the face of cancer treatment across the world, giving thousands of people a future.”

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William said he was “delighted” to officially break ground on a new building which “will represent a new generation of research-led patient treatment and care. It will bring together some of the world’s best minds to develop new treatments to save and improve the lives of cancer patients throughout the U.K. and around the world.”

WPA-Rota/Press Association Images

The prince launched the private fundraising phase of The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity’s appeal in November 2015. It has brought in around $80 million. He has now kicked off the launch of the public fundraising which hopes to bring in the last $10 million needed to build the project. The Oak Cancer Centre is due to open to patients in 2022.

William, who serves as the President of the Royal Marsden, has made multiple trips to the hospital over the years. He worked for two days at their children’s unit back in 2005 and last year he put on blue scrubs to watch two operations being performed using state-of-the-art robotic surgical technology.

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