Europe Queen to join Women’s Institute centenary annual meeting

Queen to join Women’s Institute centenary annual meeting

A garden party was held for WI members at Buckingham Palace on Tuesday
A garden party was held for WI members at Buckingham Palace on Tuesday

The Queen will join members of the Women’s Institute (WI) later at the organisation’s centenary annual meeting at the Royal Albert Hall in London.

The monarch, who became a WI member in 1943 and will attend the event with the Princess Royal and Countess of Wessex, is to receive its commemorative baton.

She will also cut a celebration cake.

The baton has been travelling to some of the WI’s 6,600 branches across 69 federations in England, Wales, Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man.

The Queen, who over the years has attended meetings hear her Sandringham estate in Norfolk, will present the Lady Denman Cup to the winner of the WI’s creative writing competition.

The WI’s centenary baton has been designed to celebrate the friendship and community between the organisation’s 212,000 members.

Footage of its journey around the UK will be shown at the Royal Albert Hall and there will be a live link to members in Anglesey, where the first Women’s Institute was formed.

The centenary baton has been travelling among the WI's 69 federations since last year
The centenary baton has been travelling among the WI’s 69 federations since last year

Inspired by an idea from Canada, the first WI was founded in the village of Llanfairpwllgwyngyll – famous for having Britain’s longest place name – on 16 September 1915.

The WI was set up during World War One to rejuvenate rural communities and encourage women to become more involved in food production amid German naval blockades.

Its actions during World War Two, when WI members helped preserve nearly 12m lb (5.4m kg) of fruit, contributed to its long-held association with making jam.

But the WI says its aims have broadened and it is now the largest voluntary women’s organisation in the UK.

On Tuesday, the Countess of Wessex and the Duchess of Cornwall hosted a garden party at Buckingham Palace to celebrate the institution’s centenary.

They met some of the WI’s most famous members – the Calendar Girls – whose semi-nude appearance in a fundraising calendar in 1999 was immortalised in the hit movie starring Helen Mirren and Julie Walters. To date they have raised more than £3m for research into leukaemia and lymphoma.

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