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Mary at 50: her passion for health issues

Crown Princess Mary’s patronages are varied, but a core theme runs through her royal work: her tireless support of health and healthcare organisations.

Her health-related patronages number 17 total and feature organisations related to heart health, stroke research, brain injury support, maternal health, twin research, kidney support, mental health support, rare disease research, and the World Health Organisation’s Regional Office for Europe.

The WHO Regional Office for Europe notes that in her time as their patronage, Crown Princess Mary has been active “in raising awareness of public health issues through various activities, including keynote addresses at sessions of the WHO Regional Committee for Europe, visits to countries, statements, speeches and articles.”

Her work includes advocating for maternal and child health, health promotion, and disease prevention, according to the WHO, and her advocacy supports 890 million people under the jurisdiction of the European Region of the WHO.

In describing the need for the Brain Injury Association, one of her health patronages, she said: “Even though life changes after a brain injury, and major – almost insurmountable – problems follow for both the injured and the family, it is crucial to continue to be able to see the positive sides and joys of life. This is where the hope of the future has its source, and the forces for the difficult process of rebuilding lost skills must be retrieved.”

The Psychiatric Foundation biography of Crown Princess Mary includes this quote, “It is important that we as a society do not see mental illness as something you are, but – just like other illnesses – something you have. The Psychiatric Foundation’s efforts for a good life for people with mental illness and their relatives are remarkable.”

As patron of Rare Diagnoses, Crown Princess Mary is quoted on their website: “Rare diseases are usually hereditary, and therefore patients are often children. It gives rise to great insecurity and concern for the whole family. But just because they are so few, the rare families should not be overlooked. They need attention, expertise and a helping hand.”

Crown Princess Mary also supports two twin research organisations: Twin Research Australia and Twin Research Denmark. She said: “I am proud to be the international patron of Twins Research Australia and the Danish Twin Registry, long-established pioneers in twin medical research and world authorities in the field.

“Twins are special, as I now know as the mother of Vincent and Josephine. What is perhaps less well-known is the special contribution twins of all ages have made to medical and health research through the Australian, Danish and other twin registries across the world. Twin registries bring twins and researchers together to undertake vital research that is of benefit to everyone.

“Twin research has contributed to breakthroughs in the understanding of human development and ageing, including many serious illnesses such as psychiatric diseases, cancer, heart disease, diabetes and birth defects. As a parent of twins, I look forward to contributing to awareness of the unique role that twins and their families can play in health research and to encouraging other families with twins to support this important work.”

As part of her 50th birthday celebrations, the new children’s and maternity hospital as part of the Rigshospitalet will be named in her honour: the Mary Elizabeth’s Hospital. In a video statement, Crown Princess Mary said: “All parents know how difficult it can be when one’s child is ill. Especially if the child is so ill that it needs to be treated in a hospital. When children and young people are ill, everyday life and the feeling of security become more important than ever.

“Rigshospitalet’s future hospital for children, young people, pregnant women and their families, which will open its doors in four years, will therefore be a place that takes new paths to create space for patients, and families, lives and needs – a place that must be safe and I am moved and proud that the hospital will bear my name.”

When completed in 2025, the Mary Elizabeth’s Hospital will include 179 single rooms, 87 outpatients’ rooms and 13 operating rooms over eight floors.

About author

Jess Ilse is the Assistant Editor at Royal Central. She specialises in the British, Danish, Norwegian and Swedish Royal Families and has been following royalty since Queen Elizabeth II’s Golden Jubilee. Jess has provided commentary for media outlets in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia. Jess works in communications and her debut novel THE MAJESTIC SISTERS will publish in Fall 2024.