The Princess Royal and Riding for the Disabled

The Princess joined Riding for the Disabled (RDA) as its Patron in 1971, later becoming President in 1985.

Through fun activities like riding and carriage driving, the RDA provide therapy, fitness, skills development and opportunities for children and adults with disabilities. Founded in 1969, the charity currently has 18,000 qualified coaches and trained volunteers who work with over 25,000 disabled children and adults across 500 UK centres. 

The Princess Royal at the Riding for the Disabled Association centre in 1975 with eight year old Johnny, centre, who has spina bifida, and Blue Peter presenter Lesley Judd, right.

Her Royal Highness is kept informed about all aspects of RDA’s work and takes an active role in helping to shape the future direction of the charity.

We are extremely fortunate to have the Princess Royal as our President ... She absolutely believes in what we do

RDA Chief Executive Ed Bracher

The Princess has attended and chaired numerous AGMs, hosted anniversary events and galas, helped the charity celebrate many significant milestones and been an invaluable source of advice and support for those involved in the charity’s successful growth and development over the past five decades.

To mark 50 years since becoming Patron, in 2021 the RDA revealed their new Princess Royal Coaching Academy, which will significantly increase learning opportunities for coaches working with disabled horse riders and carriage drivers in the UK.

Another important aspect of her relationship with RDA is the opportunity to regional centres in order to meet volunteers and riders.

The Princess Royal undertakes many RDA engagements. One of eleven RDA visits during 2015 was to Chiverton RDA group in Cornwall where she met local members of the group.

The Princess put everyone at ease straight away. She took time to talk to everybody and has a great sense of humour. She made everyone feel really special.

Chiverton RDA Group Chairman Diane Hirst

The Princess Royal is also Patron of RDA New Zealand and Australia. In 2006 she visited Ambury Park RDA Centre in Auckland, New Zealand to present ribbons to their riders.

The Princess Royal presents ribbons to the children on her visit to the Ambury Park Centre for the Riding for the Disabled Groups' Ribbon Day at Mangere Bridge, Auckland, New Zealand, Wednesday, 2006.

The Princess is a keen horsewoman and alongside Riding for the Disabled, she also supports Riders for Health, The Horse Trust and World Horse Welfare.

The Princess Royal riding in 1965