How Does the Royal Family Decide Which Charities to Support?

With so much information about the royal family in the news in recent months, it’s easy to get caught up in the next big dish and forget about the obligations many of the royals steadfastly uphold.

In fact, of the 16 members of the immediate royal family who are contributing members of charities, their list of philanthropic endeavors is approximately 3,000 organizations. In addition to charities, they include public bodies, public service organizations, and military associations.

Queen Elizabeth II and The Duke of Edinburgh’s charities

Queen Elizabeth II
Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II | BEN STANSALL/AFP via Getty Images

The Queen and Duke support “over a thousand patronages between them, many of which were inherited from previous monarchs.”

The longest-reigning monarch in British history is also one of the hardest working. Devoted to duty, Queen Elizabeth believes public service is one her most important roles.

The Queen’s patronages range from those concerning families to the environment. The Mother’s Union is one charity inherited from Queen Victoria. It supports families with many issues, including literacy, parenting, and financing.

While The Duke of Edinburgh retired from public engagements in 2017, he continues an active membership in more than 780 organizations.

His keen interest in industry and engineering has led to his sponsorship of Patron of the Work Foundation and its conferences on “human problems of the industrial community within the Commonwealth.”

The Duke also holds military appointments, including “Admiral of the Sea Cadet Corps, Colonel-in-Chief of the Army Cadet Force, and Air Commodore-in-Chief of the Air Training Corps.”

Prince Charles and The Duchess of Cornwall

The Prince of Wales’ passion with environmental issues dates back decades. He’s the founder of a number of initiatives focused on local and global sustainability, including the Accounting for Sustainability Project. Its goal is to inspire financial leaders to “adopt sustainable and resilient business models.”

The Duchess’ more than 90 charities involve literacy, victims of domestic violence, and animals. She lends her support to Battersea Dogs & Cats Home among others.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge

The Duke’s primary interest has been conservation issues and helping communities protect their natural environments. His royal patronage of the Tusk Trust is an example of the initiatives he supports for developing environmental education programs.

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge is an avid supporter of “providing solid psychological, social, and emotional platforms” for children during their early years of development. Her formation of the steering group for The Royal Society for Medicine is evidence of her commitment to the cause.

Both The Duke and Duchess champion the mental health coalition with eight other charity partners to develop Heads Together. It’s a campaign focused on eradicating the stigma associated with mental health issues and providing help.

The Earl and Countess of Wessex

Other royals, such as The Earl and Countess of Wessex, also extend their time and efforts to assist those organizations that hold special meaning for them.

The Queen and Duke’s youngest son Edward, Earl of Sussex, is committed to the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, a program inherited from his father. It’s devoted to helping young people develop life and work skills.

Countess Sophie manages her patronage of over 70 organizations. She holds a keen interest in those embracing opportunities for youth and people with disabilities. The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children is one of her interests.

Receiving a royal patronage adds to the organization’s status and publicity, which equates to greater funding overall. Whether a royal’s sponsorship is inherited, connected to a specific title, or a personal choice, there’s obviously a great deal of work that goes on behind the palace doors.