09 September 2022

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and the British Red Cross: remembering over 70 years of support

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The British Red Cross remembers 70 years of Her Majesty The Queen as our Patron, by sharing archive images and memories of her support. We are deeply saddened at the news of her death on 8 September 2022.

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II became Patron of the British Red Cross in 1952.

In her seventy years as Patron, Her Majesty donated to countless Red Cross appeals for disasters and tragedies in the UK and around the world. The Queen also met Red Cross staff and volunteers on numerous occasions over the years, including as they supported the victims of major crises at Aberfan and Grenfell Tower.

Key moments: Her Majesty The Queen and the British Cross

  • 20 November 1947: Red Cross first aid teams helped the crowds during the wedding of Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip. Volunteers lined the route from St James’s Palace to Buckingham Palace, treating 324 casualties.
  • 1949: As Princess Elizabeth, Duchess of Edinburgh, she became the patron of the British Junior Red Cross on the occasion of its Silver Jubilee
  • 1952: When her father, George VI, passed away in 1952 the crown and the role of patron passed to Her Majesty.
  • 2 June 1953: Red Cross first aid teams were on hand again during the coronation on 2 June 1953. Around 1,500 hardy members of the British Red Cross were on duty. They stood in the rain for 10 hours, dealing with 1,089 injuries 
  • 1963: Her Majesty The Queen attended the ball commemorating the centenary of the Red Cross Movement at the Royal Festival Hall 
  • 1966: Her Majesty visited the site of the Aberfan disaster where Red Cross volunteers had helped in the aftermath. She returned in 1973 to open a memorial centre, again in 1997 to plant a tree in the Memorial Garden and most recently in 2012. 
  • 1993: Her Majesty spoke of her proud association with the Red Cross in a keynote speech in Birmingham at the Council of Delegates, the body that brings together the International Committee of the Red Cross, the International Federation, and the National Societies.  
  • 2016: a new portrait was unveiled by Her Majesty in a ceremony at Windsor Castle to celebrate her unprecedented six decades’ patronage of the British Red Cross. The Queen was also the patron of the Canadian Red Cross and the Australian Red Cross
  • 2017: Her Majesty met survivors of the Manchester arena bombing who were supported by the Red Cross and later that month she met Red Cross staff and volunteers who had been helping those affected by the Grenfell Tower fire.

Her Majesty The Queen donated to the Red Cross more than 40 times, including contributions to numerous fundraising appeals; for example, donating an ornate writing desk to the 1992-1993 appeal for Somalia which raised £10,000 at auction, she also made personal donations to the UK National Floods Appeal in 2007, Italian earthquake appeal in 2016, the East Africa food crisis appeal in 2017, the National Emergencies Trust Coronavirus Appeal and most recently the Tonga earthquake appeal in 2022.