The Queen

Queen marks 100 years of Royal British Legion at Westminster Abbey service

The Director General of the Royal British Legion told Forces News the organisation is "woven into the cultural fabric" of the UK.

The Queen has attended a service of thanksgiving to mark 100 years of the Royal British Legion.

Her Majesty is the Royal British Legion's patron and attended the centenary service at Westminster Abbey with Princess Anne.

The Queen used a walking stick at the service for what is believed to be the first time at a major public event.  

Create your own user feedback survey

The 95-year-old appeared at ease as she moved to and from her seat at Westminster Abbey with the aid of the stick, handed to her by the Princess Royal when she first arrived and stepped from a state limousine.

Lieutenant General (Retired) James Bashall, National President of the Royal British Legion, told Forces News the charity was "extremely privileged" both the Queen and Princess Royal attended.

"Their support and their presence throughout has been very important," he said.

The service was also attended by members of the military, veterans and their families from the UK and Commonwealth and Mr Bashall said the difference made by the Royal British Legion to the Armed Forces community is "enormous".

"I've also met some amazing people, our beneficiaries, who we've given small sums of money to – it's transformed their lives," he said.

Queen Elizabeth II and the Princess Royal attending a Service of Thanksgiving at Westminster Abbey in London to mark the Centenary of the Royal British Legion 121021 CREDIT PA, ALAMY
The Queen stands next to the Princess Royal during the ceremony at Westminster Abbey (Picture: PA/Alamy).

"Men and women who've been broken by their service, both physically and mentally, and we have managed to rebuild their lives and help them get back on their feet… and, in many cases, I'm afraid, get over some very difficult and dark mental challenges."

In his address, the Dean of Westminster, the Very Reverend David Hoyle, celebrated the Royal British Legion's ability to stitch "together our shattered experience" and make us "whole".

He also said it has become the bridge between ordinary men and women and those "who have been set apart by serving in the forces". 

Charles Byrne, Director General of the Royal British Legion, told Forces News the organisation carries "forward exactly the same principles that those who founded the legion set in stone".

"When we play our part, where we help knit counties, organisations, individuals together, to show their support for our Armed Forces community – it's still very much who we are and what we do today.

"We're woven into the cultural fabric and the calendar of the country and you see that huge public support for the Armed Forces and the work of the legion that comes out every remembrance time."

Queen Elizabeth II leaves after attending a Service of Thanksgiving at Westminster Abbey to mark the Centenary of the Royal British Legion 121021 CREDIT PA, ALAMY
The Queen is patron of the Royal British Legion (Picture: PA/Alamy).

General Sir Nick Carter, Chief of the Defence Staff, and Victoria Cross hero Colour Sergeant Johnson Beharry also gave readings at the service.

The charity was founded on 15 May 1921 and brought together four national organisations established to care for military personnel and their families after the First World War.

The Royal British Legion is also famous for its annual poppy appeal, which encourages public donations in return for the red flower worn in memory of the UK's war dead.