The Royal Family celebrate the 150th anniversary of the British Red Cross

Published 4 August 2020

Members of the Royal Family have joined together to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the British Red Cross.

The Queen, The Prince of Wales, The Duchess of Cambridge and Princess Alexandra all paid tribute to British Red Cross staff and volunteers as the charity marks its milestone. 

Her Majesty The Queen, the charity’s Patron for over six decades, sent a message of congratulations and thanks to all staff on volunteers, on the charity’s 150th anniversary. Read it in full here.

Since 1870, the British Red Cross has been helping people in crisis, responding to conflicts, natural disasters and individual emergencies. From the First World War to today’s Coronavirus effort, the charity’s huge network of volunteers continues to make a difference to the lives of vulnerable people in the UK and abroad.

The Royal Family have a longstanding relationship with the Red Cross, dating back to 1870 when Queen Victoria became the charity’s first Patron. In 1885, the future Queen Alexandra also formed her own Red Cross branch to raise money to help the sick and wounded in the war, and Princess Mary, the daughter of King George V and Queen Mary, served as a Red Cross nurse between 1918-20.

The Prince of Wales, President of the British Red Cross since 2003, recorded an introduction to the charity’s new online exhibition, which showcases 150 objects from the charity’s museum and archives collection.

The exhibition celebrates those who have played a key part in its history, and includes a Red Cross food parcel delivered during the Syria crisis and a handwritten letter from Florence Nightingale. You can view the exhibition here. 

The Duchess of Cambridge has penned a letter thanking 150 outstanding Red Cross staff and volunteers, nominated by the charity for their contributions.

In the letter, Her Royal Highness pays tribute to her own family ties to the Red Cross, with both her grandmother Valerie Middleton and great-grandmother Olive Middleton having served as Red Cross nurses.

Each letter has been sent with a commemorative coin created specially by the Royal Mint for the anniversary.

Ahead of the 150th anniversary, Princess Alexandra, Deputy President, spoke to a recipient of The Duchess’s letter, Anne Taylor, 87, to hear about her experiences as one of the charity’s longest-serving volunteers.

Anne has volunteered with the charity for 80 years, having first joined aged seven in 1940. Anne began volunteering with the charity after being evacuated from Kent during the Second World War, and most recently managed the charity’s mobility aids service in Penzance, Cornwall. Anne also spent 30 years training first aiders with the charity.

Over recent months, the Red Cross has been playing a vital role in the country’s fight against Coronavirus. Volunteers have helped the charity deliver over 200,000 acts of kindness since the outbreak, such as providing transport for people to and from hospital, delivering food and medication, or offering welfare support to those shielding.