Message from the Grand President

General the Lord Richards of Herstmonceux GCB CBE DSO DL


It was with great sadness that we received the news today of the death of our Patron,

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. I have written on behalf of our Trustees, Council
Members, Member Organisations and Headquarters staff to express our deepest
sympathy to His Majesty King Charles III and members of The Royal Family.
Between 1952 and 2022 we could not have been more fortunate that Her Majesty chose
to be our Patron. For 70 years she remained committed to those Commonwealth
veterans who served in the Armed Forces of the United Kingdom and to their widows.
Her Majesty showed a continuous, and personal interest, in the Charity throughout,
receiving regular updates on the issues affecting the veterans and widows in our care.

The League was formed in February 1921 at the Empire Conference held in Cape Town
and attended by Earl Haig and General Smuts. The United Kingdom with Australia,
Canada, New Zealand and South Africa are the Founder Members. The object of the
League is to ensure that no man or woman who served the Crown should be without
help if in need.

Past and present members of our Family of Nations were all greatly honoured to have
received the support, influence and companionship of Her Majesty for 70 of our 101
years of existence. There is no doubt that her engagement has contributed significantly
to our longevity and tens of thousands of Commonwealth veterans and their widows
have been lifted out of poverty, affording some dignity in the knowledge they have not
been forgotten. She will be greatly missed by all our veterans and widows in
Commonwealth countries across the world.

Our Charity

Our remit is to help ex-Service men and women who served The Crown and their widows who are now in need. Benevolence monies are dispensed to beneficiaries through a network of ex-Service Organisations across the Commonwealth with the aim of providing 2 meals a day to each beneficiary, to ensure a healthy diet. Such is the demand today, that in some parts of the World, the charity is unable to provide more than 20 meals a month, so the Commonwealth Veterans Review Committee (CVRC) chaired by Sir Malcolm Rifkind (a long-standing supporter and Friend of The League ) was formed to raise awareness and persuade the UK Government to help support our worthy cause. The CVRC co-chaired by our Grand President, General The Lord Richards and made up of The Royal British Legion, The Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity, The ABF The Soldiers’ Charity and The Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund developed a strategy that demonstrated UK Service Charity support for the project.  In 2018 at The Commonwealth Council Meeting in Canada House, London, the then Secretary of State for International Development, The Rt Hon Penny Mordaunt announced a Commonwealth Veterans Programme would provide lifesaving support to thousands of veterans and widows across the globe.  Please refer to our Welfare page to view her speech in full.  We have during this time distributed funding to provide support for all beneficiaries to allow them access to a healthy diet and a more comfortable life in their older years.

The League has committed to providing matched funding for the FCDO Commonwealth Veterans Programme and in order to keep our side of the arrangement we rely on the generosity of those who support us.

RCEL could not do its work without the support of all the Service Charities and those who very generously fund our work.

We would like to particularly acknowledge the following generous supporters.


RCEL - Royal Commonwealth Ex-Services League - Registered Charity No. 1174874 - Haig House, 199 Borough High Street, London SE1 1AA, United Kingdom - Telephone +44 (0)20 3207 2413

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