King to become patron of Royal British Legion after patronages review

Royal visit to Macmillan Cancer Centre Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

The King is to become patron of the Royal British Legion (RBL) after a major review of more than a thousand royal patronages following the death of Queen Elizabeth II.

Charles will become the figurehead of the country’s leading armed forces charity as it prepares to mark the 80th anniversary of the Second World War D-Day landings in the UK and Normandy, on June 6.

The review by the Royal Household featured the close involvement of members of the royal family and focused on organisations the late Queen supported as patron and those Charles and Camilla represented as patron or president before they became King and Queen.

Charles’s patronages have increased from 441 to 669, Camilla has an additional 15 and now heads 115 organisations, while the late Queen had 492.

Mark Atkinson, the RBL’s director general, said: “The Royal British Legion is extremely proud that his majesty the King is our new patron.

“As the nation’s largest military charity, this patronage honours the special relationship that exists between the monarch and the armed forces.

“His majesty’s commitment to remembrance and lifelong support to the RBL’s welfare work is greatly appreciated by our entire community.”

The King, who this week returned to public-facing duties as he continues to be treated for cancer, takes on the RBL role the late Queen held for more than 70 years.

Charles and Camilla will now be joint patrons of the Jockey Club, succeeding the late Queen, who was patron of the organisation responsible for a string of high profile racecourses across the UK.

The King retains his patronage of the Samaritans, a role he has held for more than 25 years, and Camilla will succeed Queen Elizabeth II and take on the presidency of the Sandringham branch of the Women’s Institute (WI).

The late Queen was a keen member of her local WI branch and every year allowed the press to accompany her to a meeting.

She held 492 patronages when she died and 376 will be retained by the King, Queen and other members of the royal family.

The King has also been announced as patron of the Royal Commonwealth Society (RCS), the oldest civil society organisation dedicated to the Commonwealth.

The RCS is at the forefront of delivering annual events in the Commonwealth calendar, including the Commonwealth Day Service of Celebration at Westminster Abbey on Commonwealth Day and the High Commissioners’ Banquet at Guildhall.

Dr Linda Yueh, executive chair of the RCS, said: “We are deeply honoured to have His Majesty The King as Patron.

“With his long record of support for the Commonwealth and as a champion of the environment, he embodies the values to which the Royal Commonwealth Society aspires, and which inspires our work to make a practical difference in the lives of the 2.6 billion people who make up the Commonwealth family.”

The review examined 441 charities and other bodies Charles represented as patron when Prince of Wales, and 367 will still have the King, or another royal family member, as figurehead.

For Camilla, 100 of her organisations were examined and 91 have been retained by her or other members of the family.

It is understood a number of charities and organisations which have not been retained were not viable following lockdown or ceased to exist after the pandemic.

Sandy Dudgeon, senior steward at the Jockey Club, said about the King and Queen: “Their patronage of The Jockey Club is a recognition of horseracing not only as a sport which provides entertainment to millions of people, but one which is also part of the fabric of British life, contributing so much both financially and in broader terms to the local communities in which it operates.”

Keith Leslie, chairman of the Samaritans, praised the King for his long-standing involvement with the charity, which provides emotional support to those currently struggling, helping reduce the number of people who die by suicide.

He said: “As Prince of Wales, His Majesty described Samaritans volunteers as ‘an amazing credit to this country’ and it means so much to have such strong royal support as we work toward our vision that fewer people die by suicide.”

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