Kate Middleton Remembers Her Great-Grandmother and Grandmother's Contributions as Red Cross Nurses

Kate, Queen Elizabeth and other members of the royal family celebrated the 150th anniversary of the British Red Cross

William and Kate
Kate Middleton. Photo: Joe Giddens - WPA Pool/Getty

The royal family is celebrating the 150th anniversary of the British Red Cross.

Kate Middleton, Queen Elizabeth and other members of the family paid tribute to British Red Cross staff and volunteers on Monday as the charity marks its milestone year.

Kate personally thanked 150 outstanding staff and volunteers, who were nominated by the charity for their contributions to received a commemorative coin created specially by the Royal Mint for the anniversary. In her letter, the royal mom recalled her own family ties to the Red Cross, with both her great-grandmother Olive Middleton and grandmother Valerie Middleton having served as Red Cross nurses during World War I and World War II, respectively.

"Like you and many others, they are both part of the rich history of the British Red Cross, which is helping to ensure many people get the support they need during a crisis," Kate said. "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."

Valerie Middleton
Valerie Middleton (center). Courtesy of the Middleton Family

In 2018, Kate launched the Nursing Now campaign, aimed at raising the profile and status of nursing worldwide, so that nurses can make an even greater contribution at the heart of efforts to tackle rising burdens of disease.

"This campaign means a lot to me personally. My great-grandmother and grandmother were both volunteer nurses,” she said in a speech. “They would have learned first-hand from working with the Voluntary Aid Detachment and the Red Cross about the care and compassion that sometimes only nurses can provide."

Volunteer Anne receiving a call from HRH Princess Alexandra
Anne Taylor. British Red Cross
Her Royal Highness Princess Alexandra
Princess Alexandra. Buckingham Palace

Queen Elizabeth's cousin Princess Alexandra spoke to Anne Taylor, one of the recipients of Kate's letter, last week. Taylor, 87, first joined the British Red Cross's efforts in 1940 to support the charity’s work during World War II and has become one of their longest-serving volunteers.

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Princess Elizabeth visiting a Red Cross hut for tuberculosis patients in 1951
Queen Elizabeth. British Red Cross Museum and Archives

Queen Elizabeth, who has acted as the charity's patron for over six decades, also sent a message of congratulations.

"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," the monarch, 94, said. "I send my heartfelt thanks and warmest good wishes to you all."

<a href="https://people.com/tag/queen-elizabeth/" data-inlink="true">Queen Elizabeth</a> II meeting a group of Red Cross students, on arrival at Brisbane International Airport on October 6, 1982
Queen Elizabeth. David Levenson/Getty

Prince Charles also celebrated the milestone by recording an introduction to the charity’s new online exhibition. The exhibition showcases 150 objects from the charity’s museum and archives collection to celebrate those who have played an important part in its history and includes a Red Cross food parcel delivered during the Syria crisis and a handwritten letter from Florence Nightingale.

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