Prince William spoke on the "challenging" impact of coronavirus on cancer treatment, as he marked the start of a £70 million treatment centre in Sutton yesterday. 

Williams comments came during a visit to the Royal Marsden to lay the foundation stone of the Oak Cancer Centre, a research and treatment facility.

The Duke followed in his mother’s footsteps by laying the stone 30 years after Diana, Princess of Wales, laid a ceremonial foundation stone to commemorate the building of the Chelsea Wing at The Royal Marsden in Chelsea.

In a speech during the ceremony in Sutton, the duke sounded a positive note, saying that despite the Covid-19 outbreak "there remains hope for the many thousands of people dealing with the effects of cancer".

Cancer care has been severely affected by coronavirus, with one in three people living with the disease saying they have faced delays to treatment, diagnosis or missed appointments due to the pandemic, according to Cancer Research UK.

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During his speech William said: "But before the official ground-breaking moment, I want to pause and acknowledge the unimaginable challenges that all those at the Marsden have faced this year.

"The knock-on effects of coronavirus have been felt widely, but the impact on cancer treatment for patients up and down the country has been one of the most acute and challenging."

William has been President of The Royal Marsden for 13 years, a position previously held by his mother. 

He has also launched the Royal Marsden's public appeal to raise the final millions required to build the centre.

The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity has so far raised almost £62 million of the £70 million needed to complete the Oak Cancer Centre.

It is due to open to patients in 2022 and will provide a state-of-the-art research and treatment facility for 400 researchers under the same roof as those receiving treatment.

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William went on to say in his speech: "Despite the challenging times we are living in, it is so important we take the time to acknowledge the tremendous work that continues all around us.

"And that irrespective of the global pandemic, there remains hope for the many thousands of people dealing with the effects of cancer."

During his visit, The Duke also met patients including Julie Balkwill, 65, from Wallington. 

Julie said: “Thanks to research, I have been living with ovarian cancer for 18 years, living a good quality of life and feeling well.

"The trial drug that is currently keeping me alive also works for people with breast and prostate cancer if they have the same genetic mutation in their cancer as I have, so I am walking proof that we need cancer researchers to work across different types of cancer. 

"While being under the care of The Royal Marsden I have seen both my children get married and my six grandchildren come into the world. 

"This new centre will give other people like me in the future the same gift of life.”

To find out more about the ways you can support The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity, visit