Remembering Queen Elizabeth II and her impact on animal welfare
A blog by Chris Sherwood, our Chief Executive.
As billions watched and thousands attended the awe-inspiring ceremony of The Queen's funeral, it was inspiring to see her faithful Fell pony Emma paying tribute.
Emma was fully tacked up, wearing a black saddle cloth and one of The Queen's headscarves across her saddle. She stood patiently among the thousands of floral tributes, on the Long Walk at Windsor Castle for the final goodbye.
What the crowds may not have known, is that The Queen was instrumental in ensuring that this beautiful and hardy breed is no longer endangered through her patronage of the Fell Pony Society.
Her beloved Welsh Corgis, Muick and Sandy, also watched quietly as the ceremonial procession arrived at Windsor Castle. No doubt a place where they would have enjoyed countless hours of walks and fun with The Queen.
The UK is, and always will be, a nation of animal lovers
The fact animals were included was no surprise, given The Queen's lifelong love of them. It sent a clear message to the billions of people watching around the world that the UK is, and always will be, a nation of animal lovers.
I was incredibly honoured to represent the RSPCA at Westminster Abbey for the State Funeral. I stood proudly alongside other charity leaders, heads of state, dignitaries and inspiring volunteers.
RSPCA staff, supporters and volunteers at our 140-branches across England and Wales were deeply saddened by the death of our much-loved Monarch and Royal Patron. I was humbled to stand in Westminster Abbey to pay respect on behalf of each and every one of them.
The service was both moving and majestic. Westminster Abbey seemed vast, yet intimate. The sound of the lone bagpiper was heartbreakingly beautiful and something I'll never forget. It was a unique event commemorating more than 70 years of unwavering public service by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
The Queen was a patron of more than 600 charities
The Queen was a phenomenal supporter of civil society and was the patron of more than 600 charities. She stood with well-known organisations, such as the Red Cross, Girlguiding and RNLI, as well as sister animal charities such as the Dogs Trust and The British Horse Society. It was fitting that volunteers from the Scouts and St John's Ambulance helped ensure the occasion ran as smoothly as it did.
We're immensely honoured that The Queen served as Patron of the RSPCA during her historic reign. Her great, great grandmother Queen Victoria became our first ever Patron in 1840. As an animal lover who kept dogs, horses, parrots, goats and even a donkey, Queen Victoria allowed us to use the 'Royal' in our name. Meaning that only 16 years after we were founded as the SPCA, we became the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals - the RSPCA.
The royal support gave rise to a global animal welfare movement, with SPCAs created all around the globe from Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Malawi to Hong Kong. These organisations make lives better for billions of pets, wild animals and farm animals as well as animals used in circuses, zoos and research.
The Queen's continued involvement has given important recognition to our work and made a powerful statement that animals have a vital role in our society and that their welfare matters.
The challenges faced by animals, including climate change, habitat loss and biodiversity decline mean we'll need to be an ever stronger voice for them in the future. Their fate is linked to ours, we need to help them to help ourselves.
The Queen's love, passion and dedication won't be forgotten
Looking ahead to 2024 and our 200th anniversary, The Queen's love, passion and dedication to animals will endure with a very fitting legacy.
The Queen also permitted us to create a new award to honour those who've made a significant contribution to animal welfare that we're excited to introduce. Alongside our Queen Victoria Award, these will be our highest awards.
We know that a love for animals is shared by the whole Royal Family. Our thoughts are with His Majesty The King, Her Majesty The Queen Consort and the whole of the Royal Family, their staff and animals at this time.
I would like to thank our late Queen on behalf of the whole of the RSPCA for everything that you did for our nation, the Commonwealth and for animals here in the UK and abroad. You were loved by people and animals alike.