04 August 2020

Press release - Members of the Royal Family come together to support the British Red Cross as the charity marks its 150th anniversary

  • Her Majesty The Queen, Patron, sends message of thanks to Red Cross volunteers and staff 
  • His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, President of the British Red Cross, introduces new online exhibition ‘150 voices’: www.redcross.org.uk/150voices
  • Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge pens letter to 150 nominated Red Cross staff and volunteers, paying tribute to her own family ties to the Red Cross
  • Her Royal Highness Princess Alexandra, Vice-President, telephones one of the charity’s longest-serving volunteers 

    On Tuesday 4th August, the British Red Cross will be 150 years old. To mark the anniversary, Members of the Royal Family have come together to recognise the work of the volunteers, staff, supporters and partners of the charity who have made a difference to the lives of millions of people who have faced crisis, both in the UK and overseas. 

    Today the Red Cross is responding to one of the most challenging humanitarian emergencies in modern history, showing the power of kindness as it supports the most vulnerable during the coronavirus pandemic. 
    Her Majesty the Queen, Patron of the Red Cross for 64 years, has sent a message to volunteers and staff to thank them for their dedicated work supporting some of the most vulnerable people here in the UK and overseas. 

    As the charity’s longest-serving Patron, The Queen has supported the British Red Cross across the decades; then Princess Elizabeth, one of her earliest visits was to a Red Cross hut caring for tuberculosis patients in 1951. On the 100th anniversary of the charity, Her Majesty hosted a Buckingham Palace Garden Party for Red Cross staff and volunteers.   

    As the charity’s President since 2003, The Prince of Wales has recorded an introduction to a new online exhibition, ‘150 voices’, as part of the anniversary. The online exhibition showcases 150 objects from the British Red Cross museum and archives collection, which have been specially selected to highlight the role of the charity as it supported people during some of the darkest moments in the last century and a half. 
    Inspired by communities across the UK and supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the exhibition includes objects such as a letter from Florence Nightingale, a WWI ambulance drivers’ cap and a food parcel distributed by the Syrian Arab Red Crescent during the Syria crisis. 
     
    In the online introduction, The Prince of Wales says: “I am proud to say that my family has played its own part in supporting the work of the British Red Cross throughout its history.

    “As President, I have felt it to be of great importance to continue this close association and to help in whatever small way I can to support the extraordinary work of the Red Cross.

    “The work of the Red Cross is as essential today as it has ever been, helping those in need both in the United Kingdom and around the world, strengthening our communities and supporting people to face the challenges of an ever-changing and unpredictable world.”

    In 2018, His Royal Highness met Red Cross volunteers in the aftermath of the devastating Grenfell Tower fire. At the beginning of this year, The Prince also met with staff and volunteers while visiting the flood hit town of Pontypridd, South Wales following Storm Dennis. Most recently, HRH thanked Red Cross staff and volunteers through a video message, for their continued work during coronavirus.
    As part of the 150th anniversary celebrations, The Duchess of Cambridge has penned a letter to 150 nominated Red Cross staff and volunteers, which will be sent alongside a commemorative coin from the Royal Mint. The Duchess has a special connection to the charity, with her own great-grandmother and grandmother having volunteered as Red Cross nurses. 

    As Vice-President of the British Red Cross, Princess Alexandra spoke to a recipient of The Duchess’s letter and one of the charity’s longest serving volunteers, Anne Taylor, 87. Anne has been volunteering for 80 years, having joined the British Red Cross on the 1st January 1940, when she was just seven years old at the height of WWII. More recently, Anne has helped to run the Red Cross mobility aids service in Truro, Cornwall. 

    Anne said of her conversation with Princess Alexandra: “It was a real honour to have royalty talking to me on the phone and to be able to share a lovely conversation about some of the things I've done over the years with the British Red Cross. I couldn't believe that she mentioned meeting me before. It was a very normal conversation, we spoke about my time as a volunteer and about normal things, such as family and everyday life. A real privilege."

    The Royal Family has a long history of supporting the work of the British Red Cross, dating back to 1870 when Queen Victoria became the first official Patron of the charity.

    Mike Adamson, Chief Executive of the British Red Cross said:

    “We are very grateful to the Royal Family for their committed support to the British Red Cross throughout our long history and today as we mark our 150th anniversary. 

    “The British Red Cross has been helping people in crisis for 150 years; through two World Wars, working hand in hand with the NHS since its creation in 1948 and today in communities across the UK and overseas during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

    “Throughout our history it is the kindness of our volunteers, as well as the generosity of our supporters that has meant we can be there for people when they need us most, wherever they are and whomever they may be.”

    Visit the 150 Voices online exhibition: www.redcross.org.uk/150voices

    -Ends-

    Notes to editor:

    The British Red Cross


    For 150 years, the British Red Cross has helped people in crisis, whoever and wherever they are. We are part of a global voluntary network, responding to conflicts, natural disasters and individual emergencies. We enable vulnerable people in the UK and abroad to prepare for and withstand emergencies in their own communities. And when the crisis is over, we help them recover and move on with their lives. redcross.org.uk 

    Assets available:
  • https://storieshub.redcross.org.uk/?c=8404&k=b5822bb492
  • Message from The Queen & archive images
  • The Prince of Wales ‘150 voices’ video message
  • Letter from The Duchess of Cambridge. Image of HRH’s grandmother will be released by Buckingham Palace
  • Photographs of Princess Alexandra and volunteer Anne Taylor on the phone 

For more information

Contact: Press@redcross.org.uk