Members of the Royal Family are celebrating 150 years of the British Red Cross, ahead of the occasion tomorrow. The Queen, Duchess of Cambridge, and Princess Alexandra, have written letters of support for the charity.
On 4th August 1870, a resolution was passed at a public meeting in London to form an organisation “for aiding sick and wounded soldiers in time of war”. It came just a few weeks after the outbreak of war between France and Prussia, originally named the ‘British National Society for Aid to the Sick and Wounded in War’.
The British Red Cross has been working during the pandemic, delivering food and medicine to the vulnerable, offering welfare support to those in isolation, aiding the NHS where it can, and making sure refugees and people seeking asylum worldwide are in safe situations.
The Queen’s message sent her ‘warmest congratulations’ on the special birthday.
“As Patron of the British Red Cross I send my warmest congratulations to the staff and volunteers of the Society on the occasion of its one hundred and fiftieth anniversary,” wrote Her Majesty. “Whether those involved in the Society are assisting people to return home from hospital safely, offering care and support in the aftermath of a disaster, volunteering in a shop, administering first aid or some of the many other activities the British Red Cross encompasses, their contribution is recognised, valued and greatly appreciated.
“I send my heartfelt thanks and warmest good wishes to you all.”
Prince Charles, meanwhile, as their president of 17 years, recorded an introduction for the organisation’s new online exhibition which also marks the occasion.
Through 150 voices of people from around the UK and 150 objects from the Red Cross museum and archives collection, the online exhibition celebrates key moments and people in the organisation’s history of ‘connecting human kindness with human crisis’.
The Prince of Wales thanks the charity’s volunteers and recounts the royal connections to the charity, including Queen Victoria, who became it first Patron in 1870.
He expressed ‘just how powerful kindness can be’, and that the BRC’s efforts were ‘as essential today as it has ever been’.
Catherine, The Duchess of Cambridge penned a letter, which was sent to 150 special Red Cross personnel, nominated by the charity for their outstanding work.
It said: “On this anniversary, I would like to thank and remember the many thousands of staff and volunteers who over the years have contributed tirelessly to the organisation’s work, including my great-grandmother, Olive and my grandmother, Valerie who both served as a Voluntary Aid Detachment with the British Red Cross. Olive during the First World War and Valerie during the Second World War,” wrote Kate.
“Like you and many others, they are both part of the rich history of the British Red Cross, which is helping to ensure many people get the support they need during a crisis. In recent months, I have been deeply moved by the work you and your colleagues have continued to do throughout the coronavirus pandemic. You have all been doing an inspiring job supporting vulnerable people.”
Each letter also included a special coin, created by the Royal Mint for the anniversary.
Valerie also worked at Bletchley Park during the Second World War.
The Queen’s cousin, Princess Alexandra, made a call to Anne Taylor, aged 87. Anne is one of the charity’s longest-serving volunteers, having worked with the Red Cross for 80 years, starting in 1940, during World War II.
Alexandra, who is Deputy President of the British Red Cross, spoke about Taylor’s work helping those in need the last eight decades.
Taylor also received one of Kate’s letters.
In 2014, Alexandra joined Prince Charles for a special garden party at Buckingham Palace to honour the organisation.
Mike Adamson, chief executive of the British Red Cross said: “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.”