The Royal British Legion
Overview
 
The Royal British Legion (RBL), sometimes referred to as simply The Legion, is the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

's leading charity
Charitable organization
A charitable organization is a type of non-profit organization . It differs from other types of NPOs in that it centers on philanthropic goals A charitable organization is a type of non-profit organization (NPO). It differs from other types of NPOs in that it centers on philanthropic goals A...

 providing financial, social and emotional support to those who have served or who are currently serving in the British Armed Forces
British Armed Forces
The British Armed Forces are the armed forces of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.Also known as Her Majesty's Armed Forces and sometimes legally the Armed Forces of the Crown, the British Armed Forces encompasses three professional uniformed services, the Royal Navy, the...

, and their dependants.
The British Legion was founded in 1921 as a voice for the ex-Service community as a merger of four organisations: the Comrades of the Great War
Comrades of the Great War
The Comrades of The Great War were formed in 1917 as a non-political association to represent the rights of ex-service men and women who had served or had been discharged from service during World War I. Comrades of The Great War was one of the original four ex-service associations that amalgamated...

, the National Association of Discharged Sailors and Soldiers
National Association of Discharged Sailors and Soldiers
The National Association of Discharged Sailors and Soldiers was a British veterans' organisation.The group was founded in early 1917 at a conference in Blackburn, drawing together various local groups representing working men who had served in World War I but had since been discharged. It...

, the National Federation of Discharged and Demobilized Sailors and Soldiers
National Federation of Discharged and Demobilized Sailors and Soldiers
The National Federation of Discharged and Demobilized Sailors and Soldiers was a British veterans organisation.The organisation was founded in January 1917 by various London-based veterans groups opposed to the Review of Exceptions Act, which made it possible for people invalided out of the armed...

 and the Officers' Association.
Encyclopedia
The Royal British Legion (RBL), sometimes referred to as simply The Legion, is the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

's leading charity
Charitable organization
A charitable organization is a type of non-profit organization . It differs from other types of NPOs in that it centers on philanthropic goals A charitable organization is a type of non-profit organization (NPO). It differs from other types of NPOs in that it centers on philanthropic goals A...

 providing financial, social and emotional support to those who have served or who are currently serving in the British Armed Forces
British Armed Forces
The British Armed Forces are the armed forces of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.Also known as Her Majesty's Armed Forces and sometimes legally the Armed Forces of the Crown, the British Armed Forces encompasses three professional uniformed services, the Royal Navy, the...

, and their dependants.

History

The British Legion was founded in 1921 as a voice for the ex-Service community as a merger of four organisations: the Comrades of the Great War
Comrades of the Great War
The Comrades of The Great War were formed in 1917 as a non-political association to represent the rights of ex-service men and women who had served or had been discharged from service during World War I. Comrades of The Great War was one of the original four ex-service associations that amalgamated...

, the National Association of Discharged Sailors and Soldiers
National Association of Discharged Sailors and Soldiers
The National Association of Discharged Sailors and Soldiers was a British veterans' organisation.The group was founded in early 1917 at a conference in Blackburn, drawing together various local groups representing working men who had served in World War I but had since been discharged. It...

, the National Federation of Discharged and Demobilized Sailors and Soldiers
National Federation of Discharged and Demobilized Sailors and Soldiers
The National Federation of Discharged and Demobilized Sailors and Soldiers was a British veterans organisation.The organisation was founded in January 1917 by various London-based veterans groups opposed to the Review of Exceptions Act, which made it possible for people invalided out of the armed...

 and the Officers' Association. It was granted a Royal Charter
Royal Charter
A royal charter is a formal document issued by a monarch as letters patent, granting a right or power to an individual or a body corporate. They were, and are still, used to establish significant organizations such as cities or universities. Charters should be distinguished from warrants and...

 on 29 May 1971 to mark its fiftieth anniversary which gives the Legion the privilege of the prefix 'Royal'.

Earl Haig
Douglas Haig, 1st Earl Haig
Field Marshal Douglas Haig, 1st Earl Haig, KT, GCB, OM, GCVO, KCIE, ADC, was a British senior officer during World War I. He commanded the British Expeditionary Force from 1915 to the end of the War...

, commander of the Battle of the Somme and Passchendaele was one of the founders of the Legion, and was President until his death.

Functions

Perhaps best known for the yearly Poppy Appeal and Remembrance services, the Legion is a campaigning organisation that promotes the welfare and interests of current and former members of the British Armed Forces.

The Legion fight nearly 36,000 ongoing War Disablement Pension cases for war veterans and make around 300,000 welfare and friendship visits every year.

Ongoing Legion campaigns include calls for more research into: Gulf War syndrome
Gulf War syndrome
Gulf War syndrome or Gulf War illness describes a medical condition that affected veterans and civilians who were near conflicts during or downwind of chemical weapons depot demolition, after the 1991 Gulf War. A wide range of acute and chronic symptoms have included fatigue, musculoskeletal...

 and compensation for its victims; upgrading of War Pensions; the extension of endowment mortgage compensation for British military personnel serving overseas; and better support for British military personnel resettling into civilian life. In 2007, the Legion launched the Honour the Covenant campaign urging the Government to honour the Military Covenant
Military Covenant
The Military Covenant is a term introduced in 2000 into British public life to refer to the mutual obligations between the nation and its Armed Forces....

.

The head office is based next to Borough tube station
Borough tube station
Borough tube station is a London Underground station in The Borough area of the London Borough of Southwark. It is on the Bank branch of the Northern Line between Elephant & Castle and London Bridge stations. It is in Travelcard Zone 1....

.

Poppy Appeal

The Legion organises a fund-raising drive each year in the weeks before Remembrance Sunday
Remembrance Sunday
In the United Kingdom, 'Remembrance Sunday' is held on the second Sunday in November, which is the Sunday nearest to 11 November Armistice Day. It is the anniversary of the end of hostilities in the First World War at 11 a.m...

, during which artificial red poppies, meant to be worn on clothing
Boutonniere
A boutonnière is a floral decoration worn by men, typically a single flower or bud. The word comes from the French word for buttonhole, which is the British term....

, are offered to the public in return for a charitable donation
Donation
A donation is a gift given by physical or legal persons, typically for charitable purposes and/or to benefit a cause. A donation may take various forms, including cash, services, new or used goods including clothing, toys, food, and vehicles...

. The poppies are manufactured at the Poppy Factory
Poppy Factory
The Poppy Factory is a factory in Richmond, Surrey, where remembrance poppies are made. It was established in 1922 and makes approximately 36 million poppies each year...

 in Richmond.

Festival of Remembrance

The Legion organises the Festival of Remembrance on the Saturday before Remembrance Sunday. The Festival, held in the Royal Albert Hall
Royal Albert Hall
The Royal Albert Hall is a concert hall situated on the northern edge of the South Kensington area, in the City of Westminster, London, England, best known for holding the annual summer Proms concerts since 1941....

, London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

, has acquired a status approaching that of a state event such as Trooping the Colour
Trooping the Colour
Trooping the Colour is a ceremony performed by regiments of the British and the Commonwealth armies. It has been a tradition of British infantry regiments since the 17th century, although the roots go back much earlier. On battlefields, a regiment's colours, or flags, were used as rallying points...

. Originally featuring composer John Foulds
John Foulds
John Herbert Foulds was a British composer of classical music. Largely self-taught as a composer, he was one of the most remarkable and unjustly forgotten figures of the "British Musical Renaissance"....

's World Requiem
World Requiem
A World Requiem, Op. 60 is a large-scale symphonic work with soloists and choirs by the British composer John Foulds. Written as a requiem and using forces similar in scale to Gustav Mahler's Eighth Symphony, the work calls for a full symphony orchestra, soloists, massed choirs including children's...

it includes military displays by current members of the armed forces, choral performances, and prayers. It culminates with the parading of Servicemen and Women down the aisles and onto the floor of the hall, and the release of poppy petals from the roof.

The event is run twice; the first, afternoon event is open to any member of the public. The evening event is the more prestigious; tickets are only available to members of the Legion and their families, and senior members of the Royal Family
British Royal Family
The British Royal Family is the group of close relatives of the monarch of the United Kingdom. The term is also commonly applied to the same group of people as the relations of the monarch in her or his role as sovereign of any of the other Commonwealth realms, thus sometimes at variance with...

 (the Queen
Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom
Elizabeth II is the constitutional monarch of 16 sovereign states known as the Commonwealth realms: the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Jamaica, Barbados, the Bahamas, Grenada, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Belize,...

, Prince Philip
Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh
Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh is the husband of Elizabeth II. He is the United Kingdom's longest-serving consort and the oldest serving spouse of a reigning British monarch....

, the Prince of Wales
Charles, Prince of Wales
Prince Charles, Prince of Wales is the heir apparent and eldest son of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. Since 1958 his major title has been His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales. In Scotland he is additionally known as The Duke of Rothesay...

, the Duke of York
Prince Andrew, Duke of York
Prince Andrew, Duke of York KG GCVO , is the second son, and third child of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh...

 and the Earl of Wessex
Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex
Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex KG GCVO is the third son and fourth child of Elizabeth II and The Duke of Edinburgh...

). In 2007, the second half of the evening event was aired live on BBC Radio 2
BBC Radio 2
BBC Radio 2 is one of the BBC's national radio stations and the most popular station in the United Kingdom. Much of its daytime playlist-based programming is best described as Adult Contemporary or AOR, although the station is also noted for its specialist broadcasting of other musical genres...

. BBC One
BBC One
BBC One is the flagship television channel of the British Broadcasting Corporation in the United Kingdom. It was launched on 2 November 1936 as the BBC Television Service, and was the world's first regular television service with a high level of image resolution...

 showed the event an hour later.

Most parts of the Festival are of a formal, thought-provoking, and solemn nature. In recent years, lighter sketches have been included, for example depicting civilian life during wartime, in an attempt to attract viewers from generations born after the Second World War.

Honour the Covenant campaign

Honour the Covenant is a campaign launched by The Royal British Legion in September 2007, which calls on the UK Government to honour the Military Covenant
Military Covenant
The Military Covenant is a term introduced in 2000 into British public life to refer to the mutual obligations between the nation and its Armed Forces....

. The campaign aims to seek public support for the issues identified by the Legion and to encourage their Members of Parliament
Member of Parliament
A Member of Parliament is a representative of the voters to a :parliament. In many countries with bicameral parliaments, the term applies specifically to members of the lower house, as upper houses often have a different title, such as senate, and thus also have different titles for its members,...

 to act to ensure that Government policy is changed.

The campaign accuses the Government of failing to meet its commitments under the Covenant. The Legion highlighted the case of a 23-year-old paratrooper, injured in battle, who was awarded £152,150 despite injuries requiring care for the rest of his life. It also criticised the practice of treating soldiers in wards alongside civilian patients. In his conference speech that October, Conservative Party
Conservative Party (UK)
The Conservative Party, formally the Conservative and Unionist Party, is a centre-right political party in the United Kingdom that adheres to the philosophies of conservatism and British unionism. It is the largest political party in the UK, and is currently the largest single party in the House...

 leader David Cameron
David Cameron
David William Donald Cameron is the current Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, First Lord of the Treasury, Minister for the Civil Service and Leader of the Conservative Party. Cameron represents Witney as its Member of Parliament ....

 referred to the Covenant and said "Mr. Brown
Gordon Brown
James Gordon Brown is a British Labour Party politician who was the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Leader of the Labour Party from 2007 until 2010. He previously served as Chancellor of the Exchequer in the Labour Government from 1997 to 2007...

, I believe your government has broken it."

Medical care

Responding to the Royal British Legion's campaign, the former Secretary of State for Health
Secretary of State for Health
Secretary of State for Health is a UK cabinet position responsible for the Department of Health.The first Boards of Health were created by Orders in Council dated 21 June, 14 November, and 21 November 1831. In 1848 a General Board of Health was created with the First Commissioner of Woods and...

 Alan Johnson
Alan Johnson
Alan Arthur Johnson is a British Labour Party politician who served as Home Secretary from June 2009 to May 2010. Before that, he filled a wide variety of cabinet positions in both the Blair and Brown governments, including Health Secretary and Education Secretary. Until 20 January 2011 he was...

 announced in November 2007 that armed forces veterans would get priority treatment on the National Health Service
National Health Service
The National Health Service is the shared name of three of the four publicly funded healthcare systems in the United Kingdom. They provide a comprehensive range of health services, the vast majority of which are free at the point of use to residents of the United Kingdom...

, and those injured would be treated immediately in hospital rather than go through waiting lists. Prescription charges would also be waived. A tight budget settlement for the Ministry of Defence in 2007 saw five former Chiefs of the Defence Staff launch personal criticism of Prime Minister
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is the Head of Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom. The Prime Minister and Cabinet are collectively accountable for their policies and actions to the Sovereign, to Parliament, to their political party and...

 Gordon Brown in a simultaneous House of Lords
House of Lords
The House of Lords is the upper house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Like the House of Commons, it meets in the Palace of Westminster....

 debate.

Gurkhas

In upholding the claim of six Gurkha
Gurkha
Gurkha are people from Nepal who take their name from the Gorkha District. Gurkhas are best known for their history in the Indian Army's Gorkha regiments, the British Army's Brigade of Gurkhas and the Nepalese Army. Gurkha units are closely associated with the kukri, a forward-curving Nepalese knife...

 soldiers for the right to settle in Britain at the end of their service, Mr Justice Blake's judgement in September 2008 recited the Military Covenant before observing that granting them residence in Britain "would, in my judgment, be a vindication and an enhancement of this covenant".

On-line assistance

The Legion sponsors a website - civvystreet - which assists Service leavers and members of the ex-Service community and their dependents with information, advice and guidance (IAG) on resettlement, learning and work. Specialist services are provided by partner organisations. Opportunities for funding may also be available to those who qualify for assistance. The website have been designed to give a single gateway to the services and support that partners provide for resettlement, learning and work.

Controversial donations

In September 2009 the Legion accepted a donation from Rachel Firth, a British National Party
British National Party
The British National Party is a British far-right political party formed as a splinter group from the National Front by John Tyndall in 1982...

 member. She raised money by spending 24 hours in a cardboard box, giving half to the BNP and half to the Legion. The donation was initially rejected but was accepted after Firth assured the donation would not be exploited politically.

In August 2010 Tony Blair
Tony Blair
Anthony Charles Lynton Blair is a former British Labour Party politician who served as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 2 May 1997 to 27 June 2007. He was the Member of Parliament for Sedgefield from 1983 to 2007 and Leader of the Labour Party from 1994 to 2007...

 pledged the proceeds of his memoirs, A Journey
A Journey
A Journey is a memoir written by Tony Blair, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom between 1997 and 2007. Published on 1 September 2010, it is an account of how he became leader of the Labour Party in 1994 and transformed the party into "New Labour"; the party held power for a record three...

, to the Legion. This included a 4.6 million pound advance. Blair said the donation was offered "as a way of marking the enormous sacrifice [the armed forces] make for the security of our people and the world". The Legion announced they would use the donation to help fund their planned Battle Back challenge centre, a project that will provide state-of-the-art rehabilitation services for seriously injured troops returning from the frontline. The Director General of the charity, Chris Simpkins
Chris Simpkins
Chris John Simpkins was Chief Executive of the Falkland Islands from March 2003 to September 2007.The position of Chief Executive is a 3-year appointment in the first instance, with a possible extension for a further 2 years...

 said he was delighted with what he called "this very generous" offer. The donation was the largest in the charity's history. There was some mixed responses to the news with some anti war campaigners and some families of the soldiers killed in the Iraq war and the Afghanistan war claiming the donation was “blood money
Blood money (term)
Blood money is money or some sort of compensation paid by an offender or his family group to the family or kin group of the victim.-Particular examples and uses:...

” and a public relations
Public relations
Public relations is the actions of a corporation, store, government, individual, etc., in promoting goodwill between itself and the public, the community, employees, customers, etc....

 stunt.

Bands

There are over 50 Legion band
Musical ensemble
A musical ensemble is a group of people who perform instrumental or vocal music. In classical music, trios or quartets either blend the sounds of musical instrument families or group together instruments from the same instrument family, such as string ensembles or wind ensembles...

s around the world, each run and funded independently. They include full concert show bands, brass ensembles, pipe and drum bands, marching carnival bands and youth bands.

The Central Band of the Royal British Legion
The Central Band of the Royal British Legion
The Central Band of the Royal British Legion is a concert band associated with the Royal British Legion.In 2004 it celebrated its Diamond Jubilee, marking sixty years of music making dating back to World War II...

 is the Legion's flagship band. In existence since 1944, the band was recognised as the Legion's premier band in 1983 and gained its title of "The Central Band of the Royal British Legion" three years later.

Clubs

The Royal British Legion has an extensive network of Social Clubs called Legion Clubs throughout the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

. The Royal British Legion also has branches in the Republic of Ireland, and spread around the world, mostly in mainland Europe, but also in America, and Azerbaijan amongst other world nations.

The Royal British Legion Riders Branch
The Royal British Legion Riders Branch
The Royal British Legion Riders Branch is a branch of The Royal British Legion. It was formed in 2004.Whilst its membership is dominated by ex and current HM Armed Forces personnel, it also welcomes potential members who support the aims of the Royal British Legion, namely of helping and assisting...

 (RBLR) is a specialist UK-wide branch of The Royal British Legion for motorcyclists. Its members hold events such as Weston Bike Night in Weston-super-Mare
Weston-super-Mare
Weston-super-Mare is a seaside resort, town and civil parish in the unitary authority of North Somerset, which is within the ceremonial county of Somerset, England. It is located on the Bristol Channel coast, south west of Bristol, spanning the coast between the bounding high ground of Worlebury...

;
and rallies such as the RBLR 1000, a 1,000 mile in 24 hours sponsored ride; all to raise money for the Poppy Appeal. Many RBLR members attend the repatriation ceremonies in Wootton Bassett
Wootton Bassett
Royal Wootton Bassett , informally known as Wootton Bassett, is a small market town and civil parish in Wiltshire, England, with a population of 11,043 in 2001...

. Ex-services members of the RBLR often wear medals and head dress with their leathers and motorcycle kit.

Membership

The Royal British Legion has an official membership magazine Legion, which is free to all Legion members as part of their annual subscription.

Anyone can join the Legion, it is no longer required to have served in the military.

See also

  • RAF Benevolent Fund
    RAF Benevolent Fund
    The Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund is the Royal Air Force's leading welfare charity, providing financial, practical and emotional support to serving and former members of the RAF - regardless of rank - as well as their partners and dependents.They help members of the RAF family deal with a wide...

  • Remembrance Day
    Remembrance Day
    Remembrance Day is a memorial day observed in Commonwealth countries since the end of World War I to remember the members of their armed forces who have died in the line of duty. This day, or alternative dates, are also recognized as special days for war remembrances in many non-Commonwealth...

  • Returned and Services League of Australia
    Returned and Services League of Australia
    The Returned and Services League of Australia is a support organisation for men and women who have served or are serving in the Australian Defence Force ....

  • Royal Canadian Legion
    Royal Canadian Legion
    The Royal Canadian Legion is a non-profit Canadian ex-service organization founded in 1925, with more than 400,000 members worldwide. Membership includes people who have served as current and former military, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, provincial and municipal police, direct relatives of...

  • Royal New Zealand Returned and Services' Association
    Royal New Zealand Returned and Services' Association
    The Royal New Zealand Returned and Services' Association, often referred to as the Returned Services' Association but best known simply as the RSA, is one of the largest voluntary welfare organisations in New Zealand and one of the oldest ex-service organisations in the world.Wounded soldiers...

  • SSAFA Forces Help
    SSAFA Forces Help
    SSAFA Forces Help is a British based charitable organization set up to help former and serving members of the United Kingdom British Armed Forces and their families or dependents...

  • Veterans of Foreign Wars
    Veterans of Foreign Wars
    The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States is a congressionally chartered war veterans organization in the United States. Headquartered in Kansas City, Missouri, VFW currently has 1.5 million members belonging to 7,644 posts, and is the largest American organization of combat...



External links


Regional branches


County branches


Video clips

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