In the 64 years since her ascension, The Queen has lent her unwavering support to over 600 charitable organisations, including Battersea Dog’s and Cat’s Home and Action for Children. But now, hundreds of charities stand to lose this royal support as Her Majesty reviews her Patronages ahead of her 90th birthday.
However, The Queen is expected to make her role as Patron of these charities the focus of her birthday celebrations later this year, she will soon, and sources insist that the review will not lead to a dramatic reduction, saying: “Some patronages are for a specific time period and so will not be renewed and there is a review of every patronage every five or 10 years.”
Although Prince Philip has reduced his workload considerably, including relinquishing his role as Patron of the RAF Cadets to the Duchess of Cambridge last month, the number of Patronages held by him and The Queen still number around 1,300. Her Majesty, who might be unable to cope with a heavy workload as she enters the tenth decade of her life, will probably shed some of her more intensive Patronages.
Unlike his parents, the Prince of Wales believes in a more streamlined approach when it comes to lending royal support to charitable associations – an approach which he has passed on to his children too. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry all prefer to bring about change by working closely with a small group of charities that they are truly passionate about, rather than just making ceremonious appearances.
In 1976, Prince Charles founded The Prince’s Trust, which was made up of a group of core charities that The Prince felt could make a real difference. Prince William too has expressed his desire to be a hands-on Patron, saying: “There’s a time and place for being an ornament as such, or shaking hands and being at an engagement and showing support in that way, but I think there’s an awful lot more from actually doing stuff.”
However, while effective, this approach does have certain downsides as well. “What royal patronages have always done is give that royal stamp of approval,” said Rob Cope, who spent eight years working for The Prince’s Trust before becoming the director of Remember A Charity. “Royal charities are generally better trusted than those without royal patrons because people know that they have been checked out properly. If it were the case that fewer charities were to be supported or have royal patrons, then obviously that is going to have an impact on the public’s trust in those organisations and their ability to fundraise.”
This year marks a couple of important milestones with respect to Royal Patronages and involvement with the community, including the 60th anniversary of the creation of the Duke of Edinburgh Award by Prince Philip and the 40th anniversary of The Prince’s Trust, which was founded by Prince Charles.