When the news broke Monday
that the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, had gone into labor, it
seemed that London could not have been more prepared.
For weeks, reporters and photographers had been camped out in front
of the maternity ward at St. Mary’s Hospital. The choreography of how
the royal baby’s name would be announced was well-known: A car would
drive from the hospital to Buckingham Palace, where the new name would
be posted on an easel.
Yes, some crucial elements
were missing surrounding the world’s most highly anticipated birth
since Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie had their twins in 2008.
Kate, now known as Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge,
and William had said they wanted the baby’s gender to be a surprise, so
nobody knew whether to expect a prince or princess. (She delivered a
boy on Monday afternoon, the couple’s first child, weighing in at 8
pounds, 6 ounces.)
Prince Charles, heir to the
throne and the expectant grandfather, did not rush to the hospital’s
Jewish-funded wing when the news came that Kate had gone into labor.
Instead, he stuck to his planned schedule with a visit to the National
Railway Museum in York.
It was a restraint that
seemed, well, Jewish.
When she was rushed to the Lindo Wing at St.
Mary’s Hospital early Monday, anxious to avoid hundreds of paparazzi
camping outside, Kate almost certainly missed the little plaque at the
entrance. The memorial pays tribute to the anonymous donor “who was not
unmindful of his neighbors’ needs” and who paid for the wing in
In fact he wasn’t so anonymous: the wing is
named after him. Frank Charles Lindo was a wealthy Jew, descended on
his mother Adeline’s side from the Heilbut family, and on his father
Charles’s side, it appears, from one of London’s most famous Sephardi
families. While it is not clear exactly how he is related, the Lindo
name is particularly associated with the silver Lindo Lamp, the earliest
known English menorah, which was commissioned in 1709 on the marriage
of Elias Lindo to Rachel Lopes Ferreira.
1872, Frank Lindo married Violet Portman, a member of a British
aristocratic family and a member of the board of management at St
Mary’s. When Lindo died in 1938, he had donated £111,500 to the
hospital, including £5,000 on the morning of the opening of the Lindo
Wing so that it could open free of debt. While nowadays considered
state-of-the-art, at the time it was meant for ”patients of moderate
means” who could not afford private care but were too well off to be
treated in a charity hospital for the “deserving poor”. In his will,
Lindo left his house at Aldeburgh to the hospital as a convalescent home
for the nursing staff, with an endowment fund of £25,000 for its
“His gifts, sympathy and
understanding made possible the erection and equipment of this building
for the relief of sickness and suffering,” says the memorial plaque,
“and will remain for all time a monument of his outstanding
Surely he would have shepped much nachas from the royal baby
born in the birthing suite he funded.