Queen Elizabeth II leaves a lasting charitable legacy

Queen Elizabeth II has died aged 96 at Balmoral, the royal family’s summer home in Scotland. 

During her historic 70-year reign, the Queen supported and praised countless charities improving the lives of vulnerable people in the UK.

We sometimes think the world’s problems are so big that we can do little to help,” the Queen said in her 2016 Christmas message. 

On our own, we cannot end wars or wipe out injustice, but the cumulative impact of thousands of small acts of goodness can be bigger than we imagine.

The members of the Royal Family lend their names and much of their time to many different charities and organisations. Currently, over 3,000 organisations list a member of the Royal Family as their patron or president. These range from well-known charities such as the British Red Cross to new, smaller charities like the Reedham Children’s Trust, to regiments in the Armed Forces. 

The Royal.uk website provides a useful overview of charities and patronages.

Members of the Royal Family tend to limit their patronages to a manageable number to ensure that they can give each organisation a significant amount of their time. The exceptions to this were The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh who held over a thousand Patronages between them, many of which were inherited from previous Monarchs. When Prince Philip died in 2021, many of his Patronages were expected to be ‘retired’ and this may also be the case following the death of Queen Elizabeth II, particularly as Prince Charles, now King Charles III, is thought to be keen that the Royal Family concentrates its time on fewer ventures, but plays a larger role within them. 

As patron of over 800 different charities, the Queen was passionate about the nation’s charitable spirit. 

Her Platinum Jubilee was marked with a reception for charity volunteers in the Sandringham area. Charity staff and volunteers were invited to her official 90th birthday party, and the £1.2million surplus from the event was donated to a number of charities.

Here’s an insight into some of the charities supported by the Queen.

British Red Cross

The Queen was the longest-serving patron of the British Red Cross, having served the charity for more than 70 years. As a young princess, she travelled overseas to visit Red Cross nurses working on the frontline. She then became a patron of the charity in 1949. 

She made personal visits to many people facing bleak times, cheering them up in their darkest hours. One of her earliest visits was to a Red Cross hut caring for tuberculosis patients in 1951.

Around 1,500 members of the British Red Cross were on duty at the time of her coronation, and they treated more than 1,000 people – some of whom had fainted out of excitement. 

Since her coronation, she has maintained a keen interest in the charity’s vital work supporting people in crisis in the UK and across the world. 

From financial donations for those hit by disasters at home or overseas, to meeting the victims of crisis here in the UK, the Queen has spent nearly a lifetime supporting the charity. 

Leonard Cheshire

When Leonard Cheshire died in 1992, the Queen singled him out for praise in her Christmas message, recalling a visit to one of his Cheshire Homes.

This shining example of what a human being can achieve in a lifetime of dedication can inspire in the rest of us a belief in our own capacity to help others,” she said.

She was a patron of his charity, Leonard Cheshire, from 1980 and held a reception at St James’s Palace in 2014 to celebrate the work of the charity, which works to support disabled people in the UK and across the world.

YMCA England

The royal family’s association with the YMCA dates back to 1894, when its founder Sir George Williams was knighted by Queen Victoria.

Over 120 years later, that association remained strong. The Queen was patron of the iconic charity, which received an annual gift from the Privy Purse. For the YMCA’s 150th anniversary in 1982, the Queen attended a service at Westminster Abbey.

Action for Children

The Queen was the first Royal Patron of Action for Children, and she remained so from 1967 to 2016. The charity protects and supports vulnerable children and young people and their families. They provide practical and emotional care, ensure children’s voices are heard, and campaign to bring lasting improvements to their lives.

The Queen’s Commonwealth Trust

The Queen’s Commonwealth Trust champions, funds and supports young people across the Commonwealth to make a difference in their communities. The Queen has been its patron since it launched in 2018. 


The Queen was Barnardo’s patron from 1983 to 2016, when she handed over the role to the Duchess of Cornwall. The Royals visited Barkingside in 2013 to officially open the Barnardo’s headquarters. 


In 2016, staff from Nacro were invited to a street party to celebrate the Queen’s official 90th birthday.

Nacro, which has worked since 1966 to create a society where “everyone gets a second chance”, helps people with housing, education, justice, and health.

After attending the birthday lunch, Nacro reflected on what the Queen’s continued support meant: “The Queen’s patronage and the invitations to this celebratory lunch meant a great dealIt signals not just Her Majesty’s willingness as our monarch to maintain contact with the most disadvantaged amongst us but also an official recognition that people deserve a second chance and are able to move on.

The Smallwood Trust

On the year of her coronation, 1953, the Queen also became patron of the Smallwood Trust, a charity which supports women on low incomes. The charity has been going since 1886, working to help women become more financially resilient and to ensure systems help women out of financial exclusion.

Reedham Children’s Trust

Reedham’s Children’s Trust has supported disadvantaged children for nearly 180 years, providing boarding schools and programmes building up leadership and resilience.

As patron, the Queen wrote to the charity in 2019 to mark its 175th anniversary, saying “I was pleased to be reminded of the important work undertaken by the charity to support young people across the United Kingdom”.

Source: The Big Issue