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Biographical entry Jenkins, Ian Lawrence (1944 - 2009)

CB 2006; CVO 2000; CStJ 2000; MRCS and FRCS 1973; MB BCh Wales 1968.

12 September 1944
Cardiff, UK
19 February 2009
General surgeon


Surgeon Vice-Admiral Ian Jenkins retired from the Royal Navy after a distinguished career and was appointed Constable and Governor of Windsor Castle in February 2008. His predecessor in this office was Air Chief Marshall Sir Richard Johns, and it was considered that he would be a hard act to follow. Windsor was the pinnacle of Ian’s career and, with his quiet approach, he soon mastered his brief and became much respected both within and without the castle. In this position he was the Queen’s ‘right-hand man’ and his duties included greeting heads of state. In June 2008, he had the privilege of leading the annual Garter procession down the hill to St George’s Chapel, when Prince William was installed as a member of the Order.

Ian Jenkins was born in Cardiff on 12 September 1944, the son of Gordon Eaton Jenkins MBE and Edith Jenkins (née Rouse). His father had served in the Airborne Forces during the Second World War, and was a senior hospital administrator for Wales. Ian was educated at the Howardian Grammar School in Penylan, and in his youth cycled for Glamorgan. He graduated from the Welsh National School of Medicine in 1968 and married Elizabeth Lane, an occupational therapist the following year.

Embarking on a career in surgery, Ian retained a love for the sea and, in 1973, he joined the Royal Naval Reserve. He attended the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, for only two weeks, which did not deter him from taking the Dartmouth Passing Out Parade years later, much to the bemusement of senior colleagues! Transferring to the Royal Navy as a surgeon lieutenant-commander in 1975, he was mentored by Sir James Watt and specialised in urology under Surgeon Captain (later Sir) Norman Blacklock and Keith Yeates in Newcastle, and became a consultant in 1979. His naval service included spells with HMS Ark Royal, the Royal Naval hospitals at Haslar, Plymouth and Gibraltar, as well as with Five Commando Royal Marine surgical support team. While with Marines, he undertook an Arctic survival course in Norway, commenting that “he had never really been so cold ever since. Once you have learned how to dig out and survive in a snow hole you never complain about the weather in Wales again.”

Ian Jenkins returned from Gibraltar to RNH Haslar as head of urology in 1982. In 1988, he was appointed professor of naval surgery and then became the medical officer in command at RNH Haslar (from 1990 to 1996) and Honorary Surgeon to the Queen in 1994. Jenkins was also a mentor to some of the best surgeons that the Navy recruited.

As a surgeon commodore he became the first Defence Postgraduate Dean and commandant of the new Royal Defence Medical College: this appointment coincided with the launch of the Calman initiatives for specialist training. He was a member of the Conference of Postgraduate Medical Deans (COPMeD) under (later Sir) John Temple. In April 1999, he became the Medical Director General (Naval) as a Surgeon Rear Admiral directly responsible to the Second Sea Lord for maritime medical strategy and for the delivery of medical services to the surface and submarine flotillas and to the Royal Marines. In October 2002, he was appointed Surgeon General of Her Majesty’s Armed Forces with the rank of surgeon vice-admiral. Ian was then responsible to the Secretary of State and to the Chief of the Defence Staff for the quality and standards of defence medicine, medical intelligence, defence medical research and education and for the leadership and strategic direction of all three Defence Medical Services. Despite these achievements and the high standards he set himself and others, he was widely recognised as a caring consultant and a ‘Christian’ gentleman.

Ian Jenkins was appointed as Medical Officer Abroad to the Prince of Wales in 1982. He attended their Royal Highnesses the Prince and the Princess of Wales on a number of foreign engagements, but was not really impressed when he was mistakenly identified as a member of the royal bodyguard during a visit to Australia.

He had a flair for administration, which was exercised with efficiency, effectiveness and thoughtfulness. Ian relinquished the baton of Surgeon General at the end of October 2006, but he was far from idle. Retirement interests included chairmanship of the council of Portsmouth Cathedral, co-patron of Children and Families of Far East Prisoners of War, governor of Sutton’s Hospital in Charterhouse, director of the White Ensign Association, trustee of the Queen Alexandra’s Hospital Home and chairman designate of Seafarers UK (King George’s Fund for Sailors).

Ian regularly attended meetings of the British Association of Urological Surgeons and was a valued member of the Travelling Surgical Society of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, to which he was elected in 1984. He and his wife Liz were outgoing members at meetings of the ‘club’ at home and abroad. Ian contributed papers on many visits that reflected his urological interests. The Jenkinses organised a home visit of ‘club’ members at the Royal Naval Hospital Haslar in 2000 and Ian gave an erudite paper on ‘The life and wounds of Lord Nelson’.

Outside interests included painting, classical music and fly-fishing. In the Windsor area he was soon elected as president of the Windsor Music Festival and attended many local concerts. The Jenkins Christmas cards often had watercolours painted by Prince Charles, but Ian always declared that he did not have the talent or access to the scenes as his ‘boss’.

Ian died suddenly at breakfast on 19 February 2009. The Queen was said to be devastated by his premature death and the flag on the Round Tower at Windsor Castle was lowered to half-mast as a mark of her respect.

Ian Jenkins’ funeral service took place in St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, on 6 March 2009. The Military Knights of Windsor mounted a vigil beside the coffin before the service, which was conducted by the Dean of Windsor, the Very Reverend David Conner. The Duke of Edinburgh represented the Royal Family. The chapel was full to capacity with over 800 people, including family mourners, friends and service personnel. An address was given by the Reverend Jeremy Ames, Chaplain Royal Navy and Master of St Nicholas Hospital, Salisbury, and a private committal followed the very moving service.

A requiem to Ian Lawrence Jenkins was celebrated at Sutton’s Hospital, Charterhouse, at which the address was given by the Master, James Thomson. In this Jenkins was described as a “Much loved God-fearing man who had many strands to his life, and whose life touched so many.” He was survived by his wife Elizabeth (Liz), their son Michael, daughter Georgina and her husband and three grandchildren.

N Alan Green

Sources used to compile this entry: [The Daily Telegraph 5 March 2009].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England