Scouts HQ this week announced that HRH The Duchess of Cambridge today becomes Joint President of the Scouts, working alongside HRH The Duke of Kent to champion the power of Scouting and oversee the council – our governing body.
Her first move is to thank every volunteer across the UK for their brilliant work supporting families and communities during this challenging year. HRH The Duchess of Cambridge, who has helped Scouts in so many ways over the last eight years, has now kindly agreed to take on this historic role and is the first woman to hold the post in the movement’s 113-year history.
The Duchess’ first engagement as Joint President is a visit to 12th Northolt Scouts – based in London – to thank them and all Scouts volunteers for supporting young people during lockdown. Making whirly bird helicopters with Cubs, she’ll also be encouraging Beaver Scouts as they make cards to send to a local care home. Both are activities Scouts have created as part of #TheGreatIndoors and #CareForCareHomes to support those made vulnerable by the pandemic.
Championing young people
Beginning her support for Scouts as a volunteer while living on Anglesey, The Duchess has been a great friend of the movement and a constant champion for young people. A great believer in the power of volunteering, she has a particular interest and expertise in early years’ education and talks frequently on the positive impact gaining life skills at an early age can have on a young person’s wellbeing and development. In 2019, she visited a pilot of early years Scouts for four and five year olds at Gilwell Park, our UK Headquarters.
The Duchess of Cambridge said: ‘For many children and young people, The Scout Association plays a key role as they build relationships and develop the skills they need to succeed in later life. When I volunteered with the Scouts on Anglesey eight years ago, I was struck by the huge impact the organisation has on inspiring young people to support their communities and achieve their goals. I am delighted to be joining The Duke of Kent as Joint President of the Association and look forward to working with Scouts across the country as they strive to make a positive difference to our society.’
Matt Hyde, CEO of the Scouts said: ‘We’re really pleased that HRH The Duchess of Cambridge is meeting Scout volunteers that have done so much to support young people during the pandemic. Scouting is more important than ever before, giving young people life skills, a sense of connection and belonging, while supporting communities in areas of deprivation disproportionately affected by COVID-19.’
HRH The Duke of Kent was appointed President of the Scouts in 1975. Since then, he’s been a steadfast supporter of our movement, overseeing many major changes including welcoming girls into the movement, updates to our programme and training scheme, as well as our strong membership growth. Scouts membership has risen by 100,000 in the last ten years alone.
The Duchess follows in the footsteps of three royal Presidents, including HRH Prince Arthur, The Duke of Connaught (third son of Queen Victoria and President from 1913 to 1942). The Duke attended Scout events including the Scout Exhibition and Rally (1913) and opened the 1929 World Scout Jamboree.
HRH Prince Henry, The Duke of Gloucester took over as President in 1942 and made his address to the Movement in December of that year, acknowledging the crucial role of Scouts in the Home Front during the Second World War.
HRH Prince Edward, The Duke of Kent (President from 1975 to present day), has attended numerous Scouts events, including visits to Baden-Powell House and Gilwell Park. In 2007, he opened the centenary World Scout Jamboree in Hylands Park, Chelmsford, accompanied by HRH Prince William, now Duke of Cambridge. His most recent visit to Gilwell Park formed part of the Gilwell100 celebrations, marking the 100th anniversary of the first Scout volunteer Wood Badge training course at Scout Headquarters.
His Royal Highness The Duke of Kent said: ‘As The Scout Association’s President since 1975, it has been my privilege to watch as they evolve with the times, while honouring their proud history. The Scouts’ ethos of dedication, inclusivity, and lending a helping hand wherever one is needed resonates across the generations, and as such I am delighted to welcome The Duchess of Cambridge as Joint President, and to work together to continue that legacy.’