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Princess Anne is the most charitable royal with 73 royal patronage visits in a year

More than 2,800 organisations in the UK have a royal patron, but with an ever-shrinking number of royals carrying out official duties, just how much time do the Queen’s family really devote to their patronages?

A recent study by the Independent think tank Giving Evidence of the revenues of the 1,187 UK registered charities with at least one royal patron found that having a Prince or Duchess linked to your organisation has no financial benefit for a charity’s income, while 74 per cent received no visit from their patron last year. 

Now, a new study by GivingAssistant.org, which analysed all visits by working royals to charities with a royal patronage over the course of a year, has revealed who is devoting the most time to their patronages in the course of their official duties. 

It found that Princess Anne topped the list for number of patronage visits with 73 in total – one every five days –  between July 18, 2019 and July 18, 2020.  

However, because she has so many – an estimated 300 organisations – she only got around to a quarter during her official duties, while Kate Middleton and Prince William achieved results of more than 100 per cent because they have fewer.   

Princess Anne topped the list of the most charitable royals, taking 73 patronage visits – one every five days – between July 18, 2019 and July 18, 2020

Prince William came second on the list, with an impressive 58 visits over the year. The future King is a patron of Tusk Trust, United for Wildlife and The Passage among others. He is pictured speaking with service users during a visit to the Garden House part of the Light Project

The Duke of Cambridge is the patron of 20 organisations including Tusk Trust, United for Wildlife and The Passage among others.

This means, of all royals, the future King came top with regard to percentages of patronage visits, at 290 per cent. 

Meanwhile, his father Prince Charles, who is patron of an estimated 400 organisations, only managed to devote 12 per cent of his visits to charities. 

The number included in the study only included official visits recorded on the Court Circular, meaning that royals could have paid unofficial visits to their patronages behind closed doors. 

However, this means the charities and organisations do not have the chance to benefit from media coverage associated with a royal visit. 

It comes following a study from independent think tank Giving Evidence that found having a member of the royal family become a patron has no financial benefit for a charity’s income.

How many patronage visits did each working royal take in the past year? 
Royal Number of visits to patronages in the past year Approximate number of patronages As a percentage 
Princess Anne, The Princess Royal 73 300 24%
Prince William, The Duke of Cambridge 58 20  290%
Prince Charles, The Prince of Wales 48 400 12%
Prince Richard, The Duke of Gloucester 34 150 23%
Prince Edward, The Earl of Wessex 33 32 103%
Kate Middleton, The Duchess of Cambridge 27 19  142%
Sophie, the Countess of Wessex 20 70 29%
Prince Andrew, The Duke of York 16 230 7%
Camilla, The Duchess of Cornwall 16 70 23%
Birgitte, The Duchess of Gloucester 15 60 25%
Prince Edward, The Duke of Kent 14 140 10%
Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex 12 133%
Princess Alexandra, The Honourable Lady Ogilvy 10 100 10%
Queen Elizabeth II 6 600 1%
Prince Phillip 1 780 0%
Katherine, Duchess of Kent 0 44 0%
Prince Michael of Kent 0 100 0%
Princess Micheal of Kent 0 100 0%

Harry made just 12 patronage visits before he stepped down as a working royal in March, although the Duke of Sussex made many unofficial visits including attending a mental health and faith conference in Lambeth, south London and a trip to a minefield with the Halo Trust in Dirico, Angola. His wife, Meghan Markle, didn’t make any official visits, according to the Royal Family’s official Court Circular, which lists royal’s outings. They are pictured at Endeavour Fund Awards

What is a royal patronage and how many charities have it? 

The UK Royal family has 2862 patronages, of which under half, 1187,  are with UK registered charities according to the study by Giving Evidence.

Most charity patronees  have a single patron, but some have more than one royal. 

As well as patons, many royal hold other positions including honorary patron, president, honorary fellow.

The first royal patronage dates back to the 18th century when King George II was involved in the Society of Antiquaries, an organisation concerned with architectural and art history. 

Its website states: ‘Having a Royal patron or president provides vital publicity for the work of these organisations, and allows their enormous achievements and contributions to society to be recognised.

‘Royal patronages add status to an organisation, and visits and involvement from a Royal Patron can often bring much needed publicity.’

Harry holds nine patronages, according to the Royal family website – including the Invictus Games Foundation, Rhino Conservation Botswana and Sentebale.

This means he visits 133 per cent of his patronages across the nine months from July 2019 to March 2020.  

In third place for the most number of visits is Prince Charles who has attended 48 charities in the past year, including International Rescue Committee, the British Asian Trust and Teach First.

The Prince of Wales holds around 400 patronages, meaning he visited about 12 per cent in a year. 

Meghan Markle wasn’t included in the study as she didn’t make any official visits to patronages, according to the Royal Family’s official Court Circular, which lists royals’ outings. 

She did however accompany Harry on visits, as well as making unofficial ones to charities which she is patron of, including the Association of Commonwealth Universities, the National Theatre and SmartWorks.

The Duchess of Sussex, spent a part of the year on maternity leave, after giving birth to baby Archie, now one.  

Like her husband, Meghan stepped down from official duties in March, so their number will be lower as their service is only across nine months.

Others, such as newly wed Princess Beatrice, her sister Princess Eugenie, and their cousin Zara Tindall also weren’t included in the list because they are not full-time royals and have their own jobs – although they do hold patronages. 

There is no exact record of the number of patronages held by each royal, and some royals will take on duties on behalf of the Queen’s patronages.

In general, younger royals hold significantly less than older ones, Prince William and Harry hold 29 between while The Queen has more than 600 – many inherited from her father – and Prince Philip has 780. 

Sophie, Countess of Wessex made 20 visits over the year, including to the Thames Valley Air Ambulance and to the  National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children.

The Queen’s youngest son and Sophie’s husband, Prince Edward made 33 visits including to the International Real Tennis Professionals Association and  the National Youth Theatre. 

The Prince of Wales holds around 400 patronages, meaning he visited about 12 per cent in a year. He is pictured here with his wife, Camilla, Duchess of Cambridge earlier this week

Just behind the Earl of Wessex was Kate Middleton, who had 27 patronage visits to her 19 charities over the year, including to East Anglia Children’s Hospices and the Step Into Health Awards. 

Kate holds 19 patronages, meaning she visited 142 per cent of her charities this year, putting her in second place behind her husband for per cent of visits. 

According to the official record of past royal engagements, Princess Michael of Kent, Prince Michael of Kent and The Duchess of Kent have made zero charitable patron visits in the past year.

However, Prince Michael – a first cousin of the Queen – is 78, while his wife is 75, which may account for the lower number of visits.

His 84-year-old brother Prince Edward, Duke of Kent made 14 trips while his wife, Katharine, Duchess of Kent, 87, didn’t make any visits.

The Duke of Edinburgh who retired from frontline duty in 2017, has only made one patron visit in the past year.

Just behind the Earl of Wessex was Kate Middleton, who had 27 patronage visits over the year, including to East Anglia Children’s Hospices and the Step Into Health Awards. She is pictured on CBBC last week

Having a royal patron brings no noticeable boost to a charity’s income, study finds 

Independent think tank Giving Evidence has carried out a comprehensive study of the revenues of the 1,187 UK registered charities that have at least one royal patron.

It’s research published online reads: ‘We could not find any evidence that Royal patrons increase a charity’s revenue (there were no other outcomes that we could analyse), nor that Royalty increases generosity more broadly.’

CEO Caroline Fiennes said: ‘Donors sometimes think if a charity has a royal patronage, it is somehow of a better quality than their peers. We did not find any evidence to suggest that.’

The study found 74 per cent of charities to have a member of the royal family as a patron received no visit from them last year.

Despite making up just two per cent of the causes involved in the research, charities founded by a royal were more likely to receive an official visit or event.

Ms Fiennes said: ‘A lot of charities think a royal patron will visit them and they’ll be able to benefit from the press and the event. 

‘I was really surprised to find to see that three quarters of all those charities didn’t get a single public engagement last year.’

‘We could not find any evidence that Royal patrons increase a charity’s revenue (there were no other outcomes that we could analyse), nor that Royalty increases generosity more broadly.’

Former charity CEO and board member Ms Fiennes explained how patronages are not necessarily decided on quality, but instead on history and location.

She said: ‘Donors sometimes think if a charity has a royal patronage, it is somehow of a better quality than their peers.

‘We did not find any evidence to suggest that.’

Giving Evidence’s research reads: ‘As well as finding no evidence that Royals bring revenue to their patronee charities, we also found no reason that donors should assume that a charity with a Royal patronage outperforms its peers.

‘Take air ambulances. The UK has 21 air ambulance charities, each serving a different ‘patch’.

‘The ones with senior Royal patrons are: Cornwall (Camilla: Duchess of Cornwall), London (William: who lives in London), Wiltshire (Camilla, who has a house in neighbouring Gloucestershire), and Yorkshire (Andrew: Duke of York).

‘It seems likely that these selections are driven less by quality than by history and geography.’

It claims that London, the South East and the South West are ‘over patroned,’ compared to other parts of the country, while also saying royals tended to be represent ‘uncontroversial’ casues such as environmental, animal, culture and sporting charities.

It added: ‘The sectors with fewest Royal patronages are housing, employment, social services, and religion.’

Sophie, Countess of Wessex made 20 visits over the year, including to the Thames Valley Air Ambulance and to the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. She is pictured last week at the Half Moon pub in Surrey

The Queen’s youngest son , Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex made 33 visits including to the International Real Tennis Professionals Association and the National Youth Theatre. He is pictured in April 

He was represented by Sir Hugh Duberly honouring the former Chairman and President of the Air League in January.

The Queen Elizabeth herself has made six total attendances to her chosen Royal patronages and charities, these include recognition of Royal College of Nursing and The Royal Philatelic Society London. 

Prince Andrew, who stepped back from public duties in November 2019 amid controversy to his friendship with paedophile Jeffrey Epstein, made 16 appearances.

GivingAssistant.org used The Court Circular, an official record of past royal engagements, to find the number of patron visits by each member of the royal family in the past year around the world.

The study only looked at official visits where the royal is listed as patron, and not as another title such as President, Trustee or Fellow.   

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