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Edward VII (1841-1910)

While it was an honour and a privilege for a surgeon to be conferred with the title ‘royal’, the position was fraught with anxiety. If a member of the Royal Family died while under a particular surgeon's care, that surgeon’s competency could be called into question. Royalty were often well informed about innovations in medicine, not least because it was vitally important that they maintained good health. But royalty were also exposed to new medical practices in the many hospital visits they undertook as part of their royal role. When Edward VII was diagnosed with a problem with his appendix only days before his coronation, the famous surgeon Frederick Treves was summoned to perform surgery on the king.

Like many royals, King Edward VII lived a very separate and lavish lifestyle which distanced him from the people, and his surgery was no exception. It was performed at Buckingham Palace in a room overlooking the garden.

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H C G Matthew, ‘Edward VII (1841–1910)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: OUP, 2005)