Who is Mr. Farthing and what does he have to do with Kate Middleton’s fertility?

Today, the magazine In Touch Weekly published a non-story entitled Will & Kate’s Baby Heartbreak. The article, based on anonymous “royal sources,” claims that stepmother Camilla the Duchess of Cornwall told a friend that “health complications from Kate’s adolescence raised red flags that may have an impact on her ability to conceive.” The article goes on to say that, based on another unnamed “royal insider,” that the Royal Gynecologist Mr. Alan Farthing “can’t work miracles.”

The only confirmed facts in this tabloid story are that there is indeed a Royal Gynaecologist and his name is Alan Farthing. Mr. Farthing was appointed to the job back in September 2008 and, in this role, he will preside over the births of the next generation of royal babies, including those of William and Kate.

According to his professional profile, Mr. Farthing specializes in treating cancers of the female reproductive tract and endometriosis which is a common cause of infertility. Mr. Farthing graduated from St. George Hospital Medical School in London, is a member of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and is affiliated with The Wellington Hospital. So why is he called “Mr. Farthing” rather than Dr. Farthing?

According to an article in the British Medical Journal the title has a 500 year-old link with hairdressing: “The tradition of addressing surgeons as Mr or Miss is thought to have its origins in the days of the unqualified barber surgeons whose shaving skills with the blade had naturally helped them carve out a career in surgery. King Henry VIII granted a royal charter to the company of barbers and surgeons in 1540.”

  • What do you call nurses with PhDs?
  • In addition to gynecology, does Mr. Farthing also do Kate’s hair?

UPDATE (05 November 2011)

Kate Middleton triggered pregnancy rumors when she declined to sample peanut paste while touring a UNICEF factory in Copenhagen.

Mark Boguski, M.D., Ph.D. is on the faculty of Harvard Medical School and is a member of the Society for Participatory Medicine, "a movement in which networked patients shift from being mere passengers to responsible drivers of their health" and in which professional health care providers encourage "empowered patients" and value them as full partners in managing their health and wellness.

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