Kate Middleton shares rare family photo to mark 150th anniversary of British Red Cross

Royal's grandmother served with the organisation during World War II

Sarah Young
Tuesday 04 August 2020 08:16 BST

The Duchess of Cambridge has led the royal family in paying tribute to the British Red Cross on its 150th anniversary.

On Tuesday, the British Red Cross celebrates the milestone, which marks 150 years to the day a resolution was passed at a public meeting in London to form an organisation “for aiding sick and wounded soldiers in time of war”.

Kate Middleton has honoured the charity on this special occasion by sharing a rare family photo that highlights her own connection to the organisation.

The previously unseen image features Kate’s grandmother, Valerie Middleton, who is the mother of Kate’s father, Michael.

In the photo, Valerie, who served as a Voluntary Aid Detachment with the British Red Cross during World War II, can be seen smiling alongside her fellow nurses, wearing the Red Cross logo and a nurse's cap.

The Duchess also noted that her great-grandmother, Olive Middleton, was a Red Cross nurse, as well.

In addition to releasing the vintage photo, Kate also honoured the charity by sending letters to 150 outstanding Red Cross volunteers and staffers. Each recipient was nominated by the charity for their noteworthy contributions to the organisation.

“Your colleagues nominated you because of your hard work with the British Red Cross and because of the way in which you carry out your work: helping those who need it most and putting people first,” Kate wrote.

Valerie Middleton (centre), who served as a Voluntary Aid Detachment with the British Red Cross in the Second World War is seen in this undated handout photo (PA)

“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.”

One person to receive a letter from the duchess was Anne Taylor, who has volunteered with the charity for 80 years. She joined the Red Cross during World War II, around the same time as Kate's grandmother. Taylor also received a special phone call from Princess Alexandra, who commended her for her hard work over the years.

A commemorative coin was issued to 150 Red Cross staff and volunteers along with a letter from the Duchess of Cambridge (PA)

In addition to the letter, each of the 150 recipients received a commemorative coin created by the Royal Mint specifically for the anniversary. In her letter, Kate wrote, “I hope this coin serves as a token to remind you of the importance of the role you play in sustaining this incredible organisation.”

Kate was not the only member of the royal family to pay tribute to the British Red Cross.

Queen Elizabeth II during a visit to the British Red Cross national headquarters in 1989 (PA)

The Queen, who has served as the charity's patron for almost 65 years, also wrote a letter to volunteers and staff to thank them for their dedicated work.

“As patron of the British Red Cross I send my warmest congratulations to the staff and volunteers of the society on the occasion of its one hundred and fiftieth anniversary, ” wrote the monarch.

Prince of Wales, who has been president of the Red Cross since 2003, during a recorded a video to introduce a new online exhibition - 150 voices which marks the 150th anniversary of the British Red Cross (PA)

“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.”

Prince Charles also participated in showing support for the British Red Cross by recording an introduction for the charity's new online exhibition celebrating its anniversary.

The project showcases 150 objects from the charity's museum and archives collection to honour those who played vital roles in the organisation's history.

“Through giving relief to those affected by war and conflict, supporting refugees, providing health and social care in peacetime and helping people and communities hit by natural disasters, the British Red Cross has for 150 years shown just how powerful kindness can be,” Charles said in the film.

“None of this would have been possible of course without the extraordinary dedication of the British Red Cross volunteers. Their conspicuous humanity in times of crisis offers an inspiration to us all.”

He continued: “The work of the Red Cross is as essential today as it has ever been, helping those in need both in the United Kingdom and around the world, strengthening our communities and supporting people to face the challenges of an ever-changing and unpredictable world.”

The British Red Cross was established a few weeks after the outbreak of war between France and Prussia, and was initially named the British National Society for Aid to the Sick and Wounded in War.

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