SUPPORT OUR JOURNALISM: Please considering donating to keep our website running and free for all - thank you!

British Royals

The Not Forgotten Association: a charity close to the Royal Family’s hearts

A photograph of Buckingham Palace during the Colonel's Review of the Queen's Birthday Parade during 2018, taken from the Mall. This image is free for Royal Central to use in perpetuity.

The Royal Family are associated with a large number of organisations and charities, with these relationships often dating back many years. This is particularly true of the Not Forgotten Association, being celebrated this week on the official Royal Family social media accounts to mark Charity Tuesday.

The origins of the association began in 1919, when Marta Cunningham, an American soprano, discovered thousands of injured servicemen in hospitals across the country. In one hospital alone, Marta found approximately 600 patients. In a wish to provide support and entertainment to these servicemen, Marta formed the Not Forgotten Association.

The Royal Family have been involved with the association since it’s inauguration and with the permission of King George V and Queen Mary, the first garden party was held at Buckingham Palace on 12 August 1920. Within the first year alone, around 10,000 service personnel were supported, through the provision of afternoon teas and musical entertainment. Cigarettes and tea were provided at the first garden party, and the service personnel toured the Royal Mews and relaxed in the gardens of the palace.

The charity now organises and provides leisure and recreational activities, travel and holidays for serving personnel who are wounded or injured and for veterans with illness or disability. The charity supports serving personnel and veterans from the British Army, the Royal Navy, the Royal Air Force, the Royal Marines and the Merchant Navy. The motto of the association is ‘from comradeship to challenge’, and the support given is designed to boost morale, confidence and wellbeing.

The first royal patron of the association was Princess Mary, and on her death in 1965, this patronage passed to The Duchess of Kent. Princess Anne is the association’s current patron, taking on this role in 2000. Usually, a garden party is held every year at Buckingham Palace for the association although the 2020 event has been cancelled owing to the coronavirus pandemic. But the Royal Family continues to celebrate the organisation which has provided support to approximately one million service men and women since the its creation.

About author

Historian and blogger at