Photograph of an X-ray of Edward VIII's left hand, England, 1931
The left hand in this print of an X-ray belonged to the then Prince of Wales, later King Edward VIII (1894-1972), who ruled for just one year in 1936. Rather than being made for medical reasons, such hand X-rays were often made for famous people as a souvenir of their visit to a hospital – perhaps to open a new wing, or department. The original X-ray was taken in November 1931, almost certainly at what was then called The North Staffordshire Cripples Aid Society Orthopaedic Hospital in Stoke-on-Trent. X-rays were first discovered in 1895 by Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen (1845-1923), and the potential of being able to look inside the body without resorting to surgery was quickly realised by physicians. Despite this, take up of the technology was initially slow, and it was not until the 1930s that most hospitals in the United Kingdom had specialist X-ray departments and equipment.
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Glossary: x-ray photograph
An internal image of the body that is produced by exposing a photographic plate to X-rays.