Princess Anne named patron of military graves and memorials charity

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PRINCESS ANNE has been named Royal Patron of a charity that aims to find and restore military graves and memorials.

Queen Elizabeth II’s daughter Anne has been named the first patron for The Remembrance Trust, a charity seeking to preserve the memory of those who died for their country. The charity aims to return graves and memorials to their former glory, while also creating a database spanning more than 200 years, and the Princess Royal could help boost support for volunteers and supporters and raise the profile of the trust.

The charity’s remit will cover an undefined period up until 1914 and the charity intends to take responsibility for the graves not covered by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

The charity’s founder and chairman Algy Cluff claims that Princess Anne is the “best royal” for the job, citing her interest in naval, military and heritage matters as his reasoning.

Upon her acceptance of being their figurehead, Mr Cluff said he was “delighted”.

He explained the charity’s objectives in conversation with the Telegraph.

Princess Anne at a cemetery

Princess Anne named patron of military graves and memorials charity (Image: Getty Images)

Princess Anne

The Princess Royal could help boost support for volunteers and supporters for The Remembrance Trust (Image: Getty Images)

He said: “If you’re killed from 1914 onwards your grave is kept immaculately by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, which is funded by the Commonwealth governments. Whereas if you were killed before 1914 you are no one’s responsibility at all.

“No one’s looking after these graves, which is really a bit of a scandal, actually.”

The organisation, which sees 80-year-old Mr Cluff, who is a former captain in the Grenadier Guards at his helm, seeks to cover this uncharted territory and make a difference.

Their work will fill the gaps in history books, and will ultimately see them finding and taking responsibility for graves and memorials for military personnel predating the First World War.

Princess Anne at a cemetery

The charity’s founder and chairman Algy Cluff claims Princess Anne is the “best royal” for the job (Image: Getty Images)

The charity’s extensive workload has become apparent, after they launched last year following several months of fundraising

Mr Cluff said: “There’s an awful lot for us to do.

“To give you one example of what we are doing now – our current work in progress – we are restoring the graves of 12 winners of the Victoria Cross who are buried in one cemetery alone, Brompton Cemetery in London, and no one looks after them.”

The charity is also set to aid in the renovation of the military cemetery at Shorncliffe, near Hythe in Kent.

The site is likely to conceal tales of decades of military history and is the location of the graves of three Victoria Cross winners.

Princess Anne wearing face mask

Upon her acceptance of being their figurehead, Mr Cluff said he was “delighted”. (Image: Getty Images)

However the area has been branded as a “disgrace” by Mr Cluff, suggesting that it might be a difficult feat to tackle.

He said: “It’s a jungle, it’s a disgrace.

“The Ministry of Defence won’t spend a cent on it.”

While also working on larger-scale projects like this, the trust also aims to tackle smaller avenues, as supporters of the charity have made contact with every single vicar in Britain, to inquire if they have any graves in their churchyards that conform to their requirements.

Mr Cluff spent almost a year raising money, but more donations are required for the charity to carry out their work.

He said: “We are entirely self funded, we rely on donations, we don’t get any help from the government.”

 

Princess Anne

Anne was brought on board as patron after supporting the Remembrance Trust at a June event (Image: Getty Images)

The foundation has partnered former soldier Steve Davies, 63, a self taught military grave restorer and Army veteran who has restored more than 150 graves, including those of 22 Victoria Cross recipients during his tenure.

Mr Davies was put in touch with Mr Cluff around six months ago, and the duo hope that the Princess Royal will help raise the profile of both the organisation and their work.

Princess Anne was brought on board as patron after supporting the Remembrance Trust at an event in June, when she unveiled a memorial at St Saviour’s Church in Jersey honouring 75 veterans of the Napoleonic Wars.

Commenting on her attendance at the event, Mr Cluff said: “We were delighted, of course, that she could do that.

“I think she was quite touched by the idea, so I wrote to her after that.”

  Source: EXPRESS CO UK

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