The Queen has led the royal family’s tributes to the “dedicated work” of the British Red Cross on its 150th anniversary.
Volunteers and staff are “valued and greatly appreciated”, she said.
And the Duchess of Cambridge had a personal reason to hail the charity’s staff and volunteers as “inspiring”.
Catherine’s grandmother, Valerie Middleton was a Red Cross nurse in World War Two, as was great-grandmother Olive Middleton in World War One.
A few weeks after war broke out between France and Prussia in 1870, a resolution was passed at a public meeting in London to form an organisation “for aiding sick and wounded soldiers in time of war”.
Originally called the British National Society for Aid to the Sick and Wounded in War, it would later be renamed the British Red Cross, becoming part of an international movement of humanitarian organisations offering aid in disasters and health crises.
The Queen – a patron of the organisation for 65 years – said in her message: “Whether those involved in the society are assisting people to return home from hospital safely, offering care and support in the aftermath of a disaster, volunteering in a shop, administering first aid or some of the many other activities the British Red Cross encompasses, their contribution is recognised, valued and greatly appreciated.”
In her own letter to 150 outstanding staff and volunteers, who also received a commemorative coin from the Royal Mint, the Duchess of Cambridge referred to her own family’s experience in the British Red Cross.
Catherine said: “In recent months, I have been deeply moved by the work you and your colleagues have continued to do throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
“You have all been doing an inspiring job supporting vulnerable people.”
Prince Charles, who has been president of the Red Cross since 2003, recorded a video to introduce an online exhibition as part of the anniversary, called 150 Voices.
He said: “The British Red Cross has for 150 years shown just how powerful kindness can be.”
He went on to praise the “extraordinary dedication” of volunteers, saying: “Their conspicuous humanity in times of crisis offers an inspiration to us all.”
The online exhibitions features 150 objects from the British Red Cross museum and archives collection, including a letter from Florence Nightingale, a World War One ambulance driver’s cap and a food parcel distributed during the Syria crisis.
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