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Biographical entry Princess Mary, Countess of Harewood (1897 - 1965)

Honorary FRCS 1927.

25 April 1897
28 March 1965
Member of the UK Royal Family


HRH Princess Mary was born on 25 April 1897, the only daughter of King George V and Queen Mary. Though she was only 17 at the outbreak of the first world war, and naturally shy, she took her full share of war-service, joining the VAD and serving as a volunteer nurse during the war, and then from 1918 to 1920 training as a nurse at the Hospital for Sick Children, Great Ormond Street, of which she later became President.

In 1922 she was married to Lord Lascelles, later Earl of Harewood and a Trustee of the Hunterian Museum, and her new home in the West Riding of Yorkshire was near enough to Leeds for Sir Berkeley Moynihan to invite her, on behalf of the Council, in the first year of his Presidency to become the first woman to be elected to the Honorary Fellowship of the College. Her Royal Highness graciously accepted the invitation and was formally admitted on the day of the Hunterian Festival in 1927, and thus Moynihan was able to commence an unforgettable Hunterian Oration with the words "May it please Your Royal Highness, our most junior Fellow..."

Princess Mary was ever afterwards a warm friend of the College, and visited it on several occasions. The next was an informal occasion on 23 June 1932 shortly before the end of Lord Moynihan's Presidency, when she was shown over the Museum, the Library, and other parts of the College by the President and Sir Arthur Keith, the Conservator.

On 30 October 1946 the Princess attended a reception at the College to celebrate the centenary of the introduction of surgical anaesthesia, and graciously consented to unveil the memorial plaque on the wall of the main staircase. And three years later, with her brother the Duke of Gloucseter, she attended the Hunterian Festival banquet on 14 February 1949. Her final visit to the College was on 3 April 1951 for a meeting of the National Blood Transfusion Service, when she presented silver-gilt badges to donors who had given blood 50 or more times.

In middle life Princess Mary suffered from thyrotoxicosis which was successfully treated by Sir Thomas Dunhill, another Honorary Fellow. After his death in 1957 Sir Thomas's executors, with the Princess's gracious approval, presented to the College the beautiful inscribed silver cigarette box which she had given him in 1935.

In her later years the Princess Royal appeared more frequently in public, and often represented the Queen abroad. She died suddenly on 28 March 1965 while out on a Sunday walk with members of her family in the park at Harewood House.

Sources used to compile this entry: [The Times 29 March 1965 ;Ann Roy Coll Surg 1965, 36, 255].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England