Queen gives ‘Royal’ title to the NAAFI after a century of feeding UK’s armed forces: Monarch bestows rare honour on Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes that run on-base shops and canteens on landmark anniversary
- Queen presents royal title on one of the organisations she has been longest associated with during her reign
- She has been patron of the Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes (NAAFI) since the year she became Queen
- The organisation provides on-base shops and canteens for the British Army and their allies across the world
- Monarch has now given it permission to use title ‘Royal’ in recognition of its close links to Royalty and military
The Queen has chosen to bestow the rare honour of a royal title on one of the organisations she has been longest associated with during her historic reign.
She has been patron of the Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes (NAAFI), which provide on-base shops and canteens for the British Army and their allies across the world, since the year she became Queen in 1952.
And as the organisation is now celebrating its own landmark birthday – its centenary – she has given it permission to use the title ‘Royal’ in recognition of its close links to Royalty and the military.
The Queen has been Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes patron since 1952. She is seen visiting a site in Portsmouth in 1946
Prince Philip inspects goods on sale on his tour of the Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes (NAAFI) establishments at Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (Shape) in 1954 with General Gruenther and Colonel Lionel Cross
The organisation was established in 1920 when the then Secretary of State for War, Winston Churchill, set up a committee to oversee organisation of the armed forces’ canteens following World War One.
Since 1920, the NAAFI has provided leisure, catering and recreational services for members of the armed forces stationed across the world, including during the Second World War, deployments in Northern Ireland and the Falkland Islands, as well as both Gulf Wars and more recently the Balkans, Iraq and Afghanistan.
It continues to serve UK forces based overseas in Germany, Brunei, Gibraltar, the Falkland Islands, Ascension and on Her Majesty’s Ships.
Minister for the Cabinet Office Michael Ellis said: ‘The NAAFI has played a vital part in supporting our armed forces for more than 100 years, throughout a number of overseas conflicts.
Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon visits a Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes site in Plymouth in 1952
The Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes (pictured in 1951) provide shops and canteens for the British Army and their allies
‘Receiving the Royal title is a truly significant honour and it clearly demonstrates how seriously this country takes NAAFI’s continued support for those who have served and continue to serve this country.’
The title ‘Royal’ is very sparingly granted and those who receive the honour must be able to show a genuine royal connection as well as evidence of a close personal interest between members of the Royal Family and the organisation concerned.
King George VI was the NAAFI’s original patron until his death in 1952, at which point the Queen took over the role.
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