SEATTLE, Washington — For generations, the British royal family has had global influence in history, politics and culture. Many members of the family have used their status and influence for the betterment of others, to help the poor both within the United Kingdom and worldwide. While the royal family has hundreds of charities and patronages, here is an in-depth look as to how the British royal family has fought poverty over the years.
How the British Royal Family has Fought Poverty
- Queen Elizabeth II – The longest-ruling monarch in British history began her reign in 1952. As the United Kingdom’s Head of State, she has become the patron of more than 600 charity organizations within the U.K. and abroad, 433 of them since 1952. These organizations gain positive publicity whether through her Patron’s Lunch, garden parties or simply having her name attached to them. She raised £1.4 billion (equivalent to over $1.8 billion) for charity in 2012 alone. Her patronages cover a wide variety of issues, including schools, hospitals, environmental preservation, armed services and children’s organizations. One of her patronages is the Aberdeen Association of Social Service (VSA), an organization based in Scotland dedicated to providing services to people with learning disabilities or mental health problems. She is also patron to the Imperial Order Daughters of the Empire (IODE), an organization dedicated to helping local communities throughout Canada, and Save the Children – Canada, which is dedicated to ensuring children’s rights are protected worldwide. Her leadership and patronage throughout her reign show extensively how the British royal family has fought poverty.
- Charles, Prince of Wales – Prince Charles is the eldest son of Queen Elizabeth II the heir apparent for the British throne. He, like his mother, is involved with many charities and patronages. Charles also supports many charities that directly tackle global poverty, such as Children in Crisis, Red Cross and ShelterBox. He is also a patron of ActionAid, Amref Health Africa, Fundacion Amistad Britanico-Mexicana, Health and Hope U.K. and The AMAR International Charitable Foundation. Additionally, Charles has The Prince of Wales’ Charitable Fund to support the charity work done by the Prince of Wales. The fund works in two ways. First, it is a grant-making body that supports a plethora of causes. Second, it helps new startup projects and initiatives that fall within one of the fund’s many areas of interest. The fund has created many projects to help people around the world, including the Accounting for Sustainability project. Every year, £100 million (more than $130 million) is raised for Charles’ charities.
- Diana, Princess of Wales – Despite her untimely death in 1997, Diana’s humanitarian work was among the most impressive of the members of the British royal family, earning her the nickname “the People’s Princess.” Like the rest of the royal family, Diana had more than 100 patronages. She used her status to raise awareness about global issues, particularly HIV/AIDS, leprosy, homelessness and landmines. As patron of the National AIDS Trust in the U.K., Diana visited Britain’s first AIDS ward in 1987 and was pictured shaking hands with patients without wearing gloves. This act helped destigmatize the disease. She did the same thing in her visits to countries with high leprosy rates in the 1980s. As patron of the Leprosy Mission, Diana visited patients in Indonesia, Nepal, Zimbabwe and India, cleverly using her platform to show that people with leprosy are not repulsive. After her divorce from Prince Charles in 1996, Diana visited Angola with the HALO Trust to call for a worldwide ban against landmines. When she was not traveling abroad, Diana regularly visited homeless shelters in London as patron of Centrepoint. After her death in 1997, the U.K. established the Princess Diana Memorial Fund after an overwhelming amount of charitable donations were made in her honor. Even though her time as a British royal was short, Diana truly exemplifies how the British royal family has fought poverty.
- William and Kate, Duke and Duchess of Cambridge – Prince William has certainly followed in his parents’ footsteps in humanitarian work. Much of the charities William supports came from Diana and Charles, such as Centrepoint, Children in Crisis, the National AIDS Trust and the Princess Diana Memorial Fund. Additionally, he and his brother Harry created a foundation in 2009 to provide grants to charities for a variety of causes. Since the creation, both Kate and Meghan Markle have joined the foundation after becoming part of the family. However, in 2019, William and Harry announced that they would be splitting the foundation so they could each help the causes they are most passionate about. Many of the causes William and Kate are known to support are related to wildlife preservation, sports and the mental and physical well-being of children. However, William is also known to be a strong supporter of UNICEF and WellChild. He is the patron of the Henry van Straubenzee Memorial Fund, an organization dedicated to helping children in poverty in Uganda. Kate is the patron of Family Action, which provides support to families in poverty across the U.K. Kate’s passion for helping children is also shown as a patron of East Anglia Children’s Hospices and through her visits to children’s hospices abroad in Malaysia, Australia and New Zealand.
- Harry and Meghan, Duke and Duchess of Sussex – Like his older brother, Harry has followed the example set by Charles and Diana and has inherited many of the charities they devoted themselves to. He has been involved with the National AIDS Trust, the HALO Trust, the Princess Diana Memorial Fund and Children in Crisis. In 2006, he founded Sentebale with Prince Seeiso of Lesotho to help children orphaned by the AIDS pandemic in the African country of Lesotho. Even before marrying Harry, Meghan has been a known advocate for gender equality. She served as an ambassador for World Vision Canada and has traveled to India and Rwanda to help girls in need. After marrying Harry, Meghan has become a patron to Smart Works, a charity that helps women find employment. After announcing their plans concerning their roles as members of the royal family in early 2020, Harry and Meghan promised that they will remain dedicated to their charity work.
A Royal Example
There are many members of the British royal family and they all approach their roles differently. However, they all share a commitment to using their status to help those in need both in the U.K. and abroad. All members show in their own, unique way how the British royal family has fought poverty either through international visits, public statements and support or providing donations. However, the efforts of the British royal family prove that the best way to fight global poverty is to do it together.
– Emily Young
Photo: Wikimedia Commons