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Celebrating our 140th Anniversary



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Obituary: Remembering HM The Queen

Thursday 8th September 2022

HM The Queen
21st April 1926 – 8th September 2022

For the duration of her reign, The Boys’ Brigade was proud to have Queen Elizabeth II as its Patron.

Following in the footsteps of her father (King George VI) and grandfather (King George V) the Queen took a keen interest in the social work and service to the nation undertaken by members of the Brigade. The Queen will live long in the memories of many for her devoted service as our Patron.

Jonathan Eales, Chief Executive of The Boys’ Brigade, commented: “We are all deeply saddened by the death of our Patron, Her Majesty The Queen. The thoughts and prayers of the entire BB family are with the Royal Family at this difficult time.”

Princess Elizabeth, her father, and the Brigade

During the reign of King George VI, the young Princess Elizabeth accompanied her father at several prestigious events which demonstrated his genuine interest in the young people of the nation. In 1937, Princess Elizabeth had one of her earliest interactions with members of The Boys’ Brigade when she joined the King for the Festival of Youth at Wembley Stadium, London.

The future Queen took a more active role when she met members of the Brigade in large numbers at a special event at Windsor Castle arranged to mark the Diamond Jubilee of the organisation in October 1943.

The Queen becomes our Patron

In 1952 it was announced that the new Queen had “graciously consented to become Patron of The Boys’ Brigade”. In doing so, Queen Elizabeth II became the fourth reigning monarch to become Patron, following King George VI, King Edward VIII, and her grandfather – King George V – who first became the Patron of The Boys’ Brigade as the Duke of York in 1897. In becoming the Patron, Her Majesty also consented to the renaming of the highest award in the Brigade from the “King’s Badge” to the “Queen’s Badge”. Throughout her reign, thousands of Seniors worked hard to earn this award, with a small handful having the privilege of being presented with it by the Queen in person.

During the early decades of her reign, the Brigade was fortunate to be in the presence of the Queen at many large-scale engagements, including during the Royal tour of New Zealand in 1953-54. At a youth gathering in Auckland, the new Queen received one of the biggest welcomes of the tour from 16,000 children from New Zealand’s youth organisations. The Brigade was present throughout the tour, with a parade in Nelson headed by five Queen’s Badge recipients, 16 Seniors forming a guard of honour at an event in Christchurch, and a parade of 270 members taking place in Palmerston North.

There have been many noteworthy moments in the Brigade’s history but few were more impressive than when the Queen hosted visitors to the Brigade Council (AGM) meeting in Aberdeen to a reception at Balmoral Castle in 1958. The Queen received a contingent of 200 young people and 1,200 leaders as part of the celebrations for the organisation’s 75th anniversary. During the inspection of the parade, the Queen “showed obvious interest and sincere delight in the whole affair”, took the time to speak to the young people, and presented Queen’s Badges to a handful of lucky members who were the first to receive this updated award from the hand of the new monarch. The events at Balmoral gave a sense of inspiration and drive for the years to follow, and illustrated the degree to which the Queen was actively engaged in her role as Patron.

As the Brigade marked important milestones during the 1960s and 1970s messages and support from Her Majesty continued. The Queen consented to open Brigade House in Parsons Green in December 1966 but was, unfortunately, taken ill the night before the opening was due to take place. However, Her Royal Highness Princess Alexandra performed the opening ceremony on behalf of the Queen who – despite being unwell – took a great deal of interest in the success of proceedings. In a letter read by Princess Alexandra, the Queen wrote of her hearty commendation of the work of the Brigade at home and overseas.

The Queen would eventually visit Brigade House in 1973 as the Brigade celebrated its 90th anniversary. This marked the first time a reigning monarch had visited Brigade Headquarters. During the visit the Queen took time to meet and speak to young people and members of the staff, and made a great impression on those she spent time with.

The centenary of The Boys’ Brigade and beyond

In a year of centenary celebrations in 1983 the Queen undertook a Royal Review at Holyrood Park on 2nd July, with over 3,000 members present from all over the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland. This was an historic occasion, long to be remembered by those privileged to be on parade. The Queen arrived in a horse-drawn carriage and inspected the parade along a route some three quarters of a mile long. In her address the Queen spoke of being delighted to review the Brigade in its centenary year and gave words of congratulations for the achievements of generations of members. Her Majesty also stated:

“Your Founder builded better than he knew, for he started not only a great movement, but one from which our present wide-spread youth training was destined to spring.”

The Queen went on to thank the Brigade for its contribution to national life and the Church, and congratulated those on parade for their “smartness and good bearing”.

In the Spring of 1994 a planned farewell display for the outgoing Brigade President became a Royal Review. Under gloriously warm sunshine, and in the special setting of Windsor Castle, over 1,000 members combined to create another significant event in the history of the organisation, made possible thanks to the dedication of our Patron. In her address the Queen referred to rapid social change, and how the Brigade had responded to this. The review was the sixth by a reigning monarch and would be the last by the Queen as Patron during her long and prosperous reign.

The Brigade continued to share a special relationship with the Queen into the new millennium. In 2002, when Her Majesty celebrated her Golden Jubilee, she met members of the Brigade on several occasions, and in 2006 she received a card from Brigade members at a meeting of youth organisations at Windsor Castle on 21st April during the celebrations for her 80th birthday.

Earlier this year BB groups across the country joined in celebrations for Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee, thanking our Patron for a remarkable 70 years of service.

The legacy of the Queen

The Queen will best be remembered by members of The Boys’ Brigade for her high-profile engagements, however the relationship Her Majesty had with the organisation did not stop there. She will be remembered as a Patron who cared about our work and the stories told to her by members, and as a supporter of our Object and values.

With thanks to The Boys’ Brigade Archive Trust for providing much of the information found in this obituary.


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