Few occupations can claim to have had a greater impact on the daily life of the royal family than that of news reporter, and the presence of the Queen at the 150th anniversary reception of the Journalists’ Charity was an occasion to celebrate an enduring relationship.
The Queen, accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh, met young journalists from across the country together with editors, press proprietors, broadcasters and also the trustees and supporters of a charity that over the decades has helped tens of thousands of journalists in need.
Stationers’ Hall, midway between Fleet Street and St Paul’s Cathedral, was the imposing venue for an event that once again highlighted the strength of the industry’s charitable tradition and its historic links with royalty.
Successive monarchs have been patron of the charity, a role that dates back to the reign of Queen Victoria who in 1890 granted a royal charter to what was then the Newspaper Press Fund.
Guests attending the 150th anniversary assembled in the main reception room of the Worshipful Company of Stationers and Newspaper Makers to greet the Queen and Prince Philip.
They had been met on their arrival by the Lord Mayor’s Locum Tenens Alderman Nick Anstee and the Master of Stationers’ Company, Tom Hempenstall, and were then introduced to the charity’s president, Lord Rothermere and Lady Rothermere and to the charity’s chairman Laurie Upshon and vice chairman Sue Ryan.
In her message expressing her “warmest congratulations” on the special occasion of the charity’s 150th anniversary, the Queen thanked all those who had supported it for so many years enabling the charity to provide “valuable assistance to people in need”.
Lord Rothermere presented the Queen with a bound copy of a speech given by her father, then the Duke of York, to the Newspaper Press Fund’s annual dinner on the 7th of May 1930.
The words of encouragement for journalists that the Duke had delivered on the very same day eighty-four years earlier seemed just as relevant to their successors.
He said he knew that the “high pressures at which reporters and sub editors, critics and leader writers work is probably greater than that demanded, at all events as a continuous effort, by any other profession”.
His recognition of the dedication required of those employed in the gathering and processing of news was clearly shared by his daughter who had suggested that the guests at the reception should include as many young journalists as possible.
The fifty or so who were present were from across the UK and included prize winners from the awards schemes of EDF in London, East Anglia and the West of England, the Scottish Press Awards, regional and national press awards organised by 02 and the Society of Editors, and a contingent and young producers and editorial staff from across the BBC, including regional newsrooms and the BBC’s World Service.
The Duke’s speech at the 1930 dinner, which he gave just a couple of weeks after the Queen’s fourth birthday, was another reminder of the much-valued royal patronage which over the decades has seen members of the royal family chairing fund-raising dinners, attending film premieres and hosting a wide range of social events.
In 2007 the Countess of Wessex opened the charity’s new care home in Dorking, Pickering House, which was built on the site of the former residential home Sandy Cross.
On their arrival at Stationers’ Hall, members, supporters and guests of the charity, were welcomed by Laurie Upshon. He thanked the two main sponsors of the reception, Tesco, who provided the canapés and champagne, and the recruitment agency Pertemps Network.