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The CambridgesThe Duke of Edinburgh

Fields in Trust: a patronage linking Prince William to Prince Philip

William, Duke of Cambridge
By Northern Ireland Office -, CC BY 2.0, Wiki Commons

The Duke of Cambridge will take part in an engagement with his patronage, Fields in Trust, while in Scotland this week. Ahead of that visit, we’re looking back at his connection to this long-running charity and how William’s patronage connects with his grandfather, The Duke of Edinburgh.

Fields in Trust was founded in 1925—then known as the National Playing Fields Association—by the Duke of York (later King George VI), who served as its first President. Its mission is to protect parks and green spaces in perpetuity, which provides social, mental and physical health support to those who use these spaces.

The Trust’s links with the Royal Family have continued for nearly 100 years: The Queen has been its Royal Patron since 1952; the late Duke of Edinburgh was President from 1948 to 2013, when he retired; and, since 2013, William has held the presidency.

William’s involvement with Fields in Trust began in 2011 when he supported its Queen Elizabeth II Fields Challenge, an initiative to protect green spaces in honour of both The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the 2012 Summer Olympics.

The Queen Elizabeth II Fields protected 1,396 green spaces, including playgrounds, trails, coastal paths, woodlands, nature reserves, and bicycle paths. The campaign continued into 2014, through to the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games. Prior to their 2011 wedding, William and Kate visited the first Queen Elizabeth II Field in Blackburn.

Next, William lent his support to the Centenary Fields, located at the War Memorial Park in Coventry. This project, a joint project with The Royal British Legion, aimed to support green spaces in perpetuity as a way to honour the memory of those who lost their lives in the First World War.

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The Centenary Fields, as a legacy project, continued until 2020 and saw 232 green spaces protected for future generations. Now, almost 1.37 million people live within a 10-minute walk of a Centenary Fields space.

At the time, the Duke of Cambridge said: “[T]he charity’s initiative to safeguard war memorial parks up and down the country from ever being lost to residential or commercial development in the future… The anniversary of the Great War will be commemorated in many ways over the next four years. Through this significant contribution, Fields in Trust and The Royal British Legion are providing a fitting way for communities to both remember the past and protect the future.”

William’s involvement with Fields in Trust builds upon his late grandfather’s 66 years of ardently supporting the Trust. By the Trust’s admission, Prince Philip was heavily involved in every aspect of its work.

The Trust wrote on its website that, “despite the continuing pressure to dispose of playing fields, the number of fields protected with Fields in Trust grew from 430 sites covering 3,300 acres to over 2,000 sites covering 28,865 acres. This could not have been done without the support and help of His Royal Highness.”

Prince Philip wrote, in an article for the Trust in 2006, “I used to walk over to the NPFA office in Ecclestone Square each morning to take a more hands-on role in the organisation.”

After Prince Philip passed earlier this year, Fields in Trust’s CEO, Helen Griffiths, released a statement about his work: “During his long and committed service HRH The Duke of Edinburgh was involved in every aspect of the organisation. As well as regularly working in the office he attended opening ceremonies of protected parks and playing fields, arranged celebrity support and hosted charity galas. We are enormously indebted to him for his support. His tireless efforts live on through many protected parks and green spaces and Fields in Trust’s continuing work.”

For more in-depth information on Prince Philip’s work with Fields in Trust, click here to read this memorial article.

About author

Jess is the Senior Royal Reporter and Editorial Assistant at Royal Central. Her interest in royalty started in her teenage years, coinciding with The Queen's Golden Jubilee in 2002 and grew from there. She specializes in the British Royal Family (with emphasis on the Cambridges) and the Danish Royal Family, and has provided royal commentary for media outlets in Canada, the United States, the UK and Australia.