Royal Patronage and the Voluntary Society
By Matthew Groves: Blogger-in-Residence
One of the strongest examples of the Royal Family’s roots in real society, rather than the bureaucratic State, is its engagement with civil society through patronage. The world of real people and real problems is engaged with by British Royalty. Civil society is a sign of a free society, in that individuals come together for the common good independently of politics or state action. A strong civil society is a sign of a healthy organic society and in the United Kingdom the Royal links with charities and the voluntary sector are a demonstration of the organic links between Monarchy and subjects. Royal patronage goes back at least to George II and his patronage of the Society of Antiquaries. Today the members of the Royal Family patronise 3000 charitable organisations between them. Her Majesty the Queen alone patronises around 600 organisations. Often Royals are linked with charities because of their own personal convictions, such as HRH the Prince of Wales and various environmental and artistic charities, or HRH the Duke of Cambridge and Centrepoint, in which he can help support work for the homeless.
Royal patronage is of great benefit to charities. It gives them a higher profile through Royal visits and involvement. Royal patronage is highly sought after, because of the benefits it can bring. For that reason, Royals have to be discriminating on the basis of what is manageable, the reputation of the charity, its financial track record and so on.
For the nation it is an important example of public service and duty. Yet again Monarchy reminds us that there is more to getting ahead in one’s career or making money. There is also working for the common good. Of course Royalty can afford to spend time on good works, but it is surely a sign of a healthy society that there is room in our constitution – indeed not just room, but honouring of – giving and service. For as long as we have a Monarchy, and given our history it looks to be the permanent institution of the nation, there will be a holding up of older virtues of service to the public good and (dare one say it, in this cynical age?), noblesse oblige.
These virtues should not be mocked by the media class. Indeed the scurrilous and prurient nature of much of our media suggests rather that an older example of service and giving should shame those who sneer and call for a republic. It is surely time to celebrate the example of service and duty demonstrated through our Royals commitment to charitable causes. We should not forget either that by this patronage our attention is drawn to all those little platoons of our fellow subjects working for the common good. Notwithstanding these straitened times, the United Kingdom’s civil society continues to be robust.
The British Monarchist Society is proud to announce Royal Patronage by Her Royal Highness, Princess Katarina.