I can only hope that this exhibition will be seen and enjoyed by as many people as possible. To study these magical pieces of paper closely; to follow Leonardo as he sought to describe and understand these minute and complicated structures, is to achieve an insight not only into the mind of a great creative genius, but into something so utterly universal as the human body.

As Chairman of the Royal Collection Trust, it is my great pleasure to welcome you to The Queen’s Gallery, whether you have been here before or whether, as I know is the case for some of you, this is your first visit. In this extraordinary year of 2012 it is unlikely that the Golden Jubilee of The Queen’s Gallery will catch too many headlines, but it was indeed very nearly fifty years ago, in July 1962, that the first exhibition opened here. Since then there have been more than sixty exhibitions. 

During that time, and even in the shorter time – ten years – since the Gallery was completely redeveloped there has been – I think you will agree – nothing to compare with this. 

This exhibition is the latest product of a well-established, happy collaboration between Dr. Martin Clayton, our own Senior Curator of Prints and Drawings, and Dr. Ron Philo, of the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. I am sure you will want to join me in congratulating them on this spectacular display and on their remarkable catalogue. It is very good to have Dr. Philo and his wife here tonight as I know just what a remarkable expert he is on anatomy. The first fruits of his work with Martin Clayton were seen two years ago in the exhibition Leonardo da Vinci: The Mechanics of Man which was such a great success at the Vancouver Art Gallery at the time of the last Winter Olympics. 

For this, much expanded, showing at The Queen’s Gallery we have benefitted enormously from several further partnerships. First of all, with the Wellcome Trust, represented here by the Director Sir Mark Walport. At an early stage Sir Mark recognized the relevance of this exhibition to Wellcome’s mission to promote research in the history of biomedical science and to make the subject more central to cultural life. As a result, the Wellcome Trust is supporting many aspects of our learning and events programme for the exhibition, and they will have a far greater impact as a result. We are very grateful. 

Meanwhile, SOMSO Modelle, the leading manufacturer of models for medical education and training, has provided the models that have been used in the exhibition to present in three dimensions the structures that Leonardo was trying to understand. I am delighted that Mr. Hans Sommer has come all the way from Coburg, in Germany, where the firm is based, to be here tonight. 

In addition to all this, in creating the first Royal Collection ipad App, we have worked very happily with Primal Pictures, the leaders in the field of 3D modelling software. 

If that all sounds rather terrifying, I must move on to thank, last but by no means least, Sir Derek Jacobi, whose measured tones will be heard through their headphones by all our visitors to this exhibition; I know that, thanks to him, their experience will be all the richer. 

Ladies and Gentlemen, I can only hope that this exhibition will be seen and enjoyed by as many people as possible. To study these magical pieces of paper closely; to follow Leonardo as he sought to describe and understand these minute and complicated structures, is to achieve an insight not only into the mind of a great creative genius, but into something so utterly universal as the human body. The last word, perhaps, should be left to Dr. Francis Wells – the eminent heart surgeon who, sadly, couldn’t be with us this evening. He told me that as a practising Cardiac Surgeon, handling that most magnificent and difficult-to-understand organ every day, it was in his anatomy of the heart that Leonardo reached the pinnacle of his ground-breaking work. He also affirmed that the academic process Leonardo employed is really a paradigm of modern research work and that it was the impact of reading and trying to understand Leonardo’s methods that caused him, for instance, to change his approach to the surgery of the mitral valve in the human heart, leading to a more physiological solution to problems of the leaking valve. What a truly remarkable tribute to the legacy of such a prodigious talent. 

It is one of eighteen exhibitions from the Royal Collection that will be on show in ten different locations in this special year. We hope very much that it will contribute to the celebrations of The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and that it will seem an appropriate way of marking the London Olympics. I know that we have here tonight some of this country’s most eminent medical specialists, in many disciplines including sports medicine and, in their absence, I must thank Olympic champions Jonathan Edwards, Sir Steve Redgrave and Baroness Grey-Thompson for their interest in the exhibition and for their willingness to share their reactions to it in the media and on the web.