RPA marks the sesquicentenary of the shooting of Prince Alfred - the catalyst for the establishment of the hospital that bears his name.

A prince, a would-be assassin and the golden probe

February 2018

RPA marks the sesquicentenary of the shooting of Prince Alfred - the catalyst for the establishment of the hospital that bears his name.

RPA marks the sesquicentenary of the shooting of Prince Alfred - the catalyst for the establishment of the hospital that bears his name.

For RPA’s Dr Richard Waugh, the golden probe which takes pride of place in the hospital’s museum holds very special meaning. 

His great grandfather, Isaac Waugh, was part of the British surgical team which used it to dig a bullet out of Prince Alfred’s abdomen after he was shot in Sydney in March, 1868. 

The shooting was one of the world’s most shocking assassination attempts – and the catalyst for the birth of RPA hospital.

Prince Alfred, the second son of Queen Victoria, was supping champagne on the Clontarf foreshore as part of a world tour of British colonies when he was shot at close range by a young Irishman.

When the prince was examined by doctors at the scene, they found the bullet had deflected off his spine and lodged in his stomach. 

Two days later it was removed at Government House by Isaac and the surgical team travelling with the prince on the HMS Galatea.

A month later, the would-be assassin was hanged at Darlinghurst Gaol and Sydneysiders launched a public fundraising appeal to build a Prince Alfred Memorial Hospital, now known as RPA. 

Meanwhile, Isaac travelled back to Britain with the prince, returning a year later to settle in Parramatta and start a medical dynasty which saw his son, Richard, become a general practitioner in Parramatta, his grandson, Peter, become a physician at RPA and Concord hospitals and his great grandson Richard (pictured with the probe and replica bullet) become the current head of radiology at RPA. 

Next month (March 12) marks 150 years since that shooting – and a chance to reflect on how a small probe played such a vital role in the birth of one of the nation’s biggest hospitals.

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Page Last Updated: 19 April, 2018