THE Queen is to make royal support for charities the centrepiece of her 90th birthday celebrations but hundreds of worthy causes face losing the monarchy?s patronage in an overhaul planned by her successors.
In June the monarch, who next week marks 64 years on the throne, will celebrate her role as patron of more than 600 organisations at a street party in The Mall, where the charities will be controversially charged ?150 per ticket by the organiser, her grandson Peter Phillips.
Buckingham Palace will also celebrate the 60th anniversary of Prince Philip creating the Duke of Edinburgh?s Award this year and the 40th anniversary of Prince Charles setting up The Prince?s Trust.
Royal sources insist that the Queen?s milestone birthday in April this year will not see a dramatic reduction in her official role but she, like Philip, will review her support for some charitable causes.
?Some patronages are for a specific time period and so will not be renewed and there is a review of every patronage every five or 10 years,? one source said.
Philip has already shed many of his most time-consuming patronages but he and the Queen are still patrons of more than 1,300 organisations. It is when they are gone that a much wider shake-up of the Royal Family?s relationship with charities is expected.
Aides say there is unlikely to be a repeat of the aftermath of the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret?s deaths in early 2002 when the Royal Family was reported to have divided up a list of their patronages on a card table and shared them out.
Charles?s plans for a pared-down monarchy and the desire of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry to focus on hands-on intensive work with a small group of charities instead of more mundane ribbon-cutting mean many of 3,000 voluntary organisations currently supported by the Firm are likely to lose their royal patrons in the coming years, sources have told the Daily Express.
Experts have warned that the loss of the royal seal of approval could put millions of pounds of revenue at stake for a voluntary sector whose controversial fundraising methods led to a highly critical report by MPs earlier this week.
The House of Commons Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee warned that charity bosses were on their last chance to put their house in order after concerns were raised over the hounding of poppy seller Olive Cooke, 92, and high-pressure methods used by several leading charities to squeeze donations out of the public.
Charles, 67, wants a more muscular, streamlined monarchy, focused on achieving concrete changes in society through a smaller group of working royals and, inevitably, a smaller number of organisations.
The core of that smaller group will be Charles, Camilla, William, Kate, Harry - and his wife if he is married by then.
Much may depend on when Charles comes to the throne but, according to sources familiar with behind-the-scenes palace thinking, even the new King?s siblings, Anne, Andrew, and Edward may not have an official role for long under Charles.
His sons, William and Harry, and daughter-in-law Kate share Charles?s approach, working with a small number of charities through their Royal Foundation, which was set up in 2009 to focus on a small number of causes including supporting military families, vulnerable young people, and environmental causes.
A senior aide said at the time that one of the reasons they had set up the foundation was that they did not expect to have cousins and others supporting their royal duties so wanted to work with charities in a new way.
It is still not clear if they will even take on their father?s group of core charities, including The Prince?s Trust, founded 40 years ago this year.
Rob Cope, who spent eight years working for the Trust before becoming director of Remember A Charity, sounded a warning note for those who lose royal patronage.
He said: ?What royal patronages have always done is give that royal stamp of approval. Royal charities are generally better trusted than those without royal patrons because people know that they have been checked out properly.
?If it were the case that fewer charities were to be supported or have royal patrons, then obviously that is going to have an impact on the public?s trust.?
One source said of Harry: ?He won?t take on anything unless he can make a real difference.?
William and Kate feel the same way and have avoided many of the more mundane tasks of monarchy. ?There?s a time and place for being an ornament as such, or shaking hands and being at an engagement and showing support in that way, but I think there?s an awful lot more from actually doing stuff,? William said when the foundation was created.
They may agree to put their names on the letterheads of some charities but royal sources say it is highly unlikely that they would be prepared to take on hundreds, meaning they only visited them perhaps once every 20 years. It is still not clear if they will even take on their father?s group of core charities, including The Prince?s Trust, when he becomes King.
Rob Cope, who spent eight years working for The Prince?s Trust before becoming director of Remember A Charity, warned that losing the patronage of members of the Royal Family would hit voluntary organisations hard.
?Charities have had a very difficult six months at least. They have come under greater scrutiny and trust is going to be the number one issue,? he said. ?What royal patronages have always done is give that royal stamp of approval. Royal charities are generally better trusted than those without royal patrons because people know that they have been checked out properly.?
He added: ?If it were the case that fewer charities were to be supported or have royal patrons, then obviously that is going to have an impact on the public?s trust in those organisations and their ability to fundraise.?