The British Red Cross Society 1903-1905

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Letters and notes regarding the proposition of the the creation of one national body and the position of the National Society.
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After the death of Lord Wantage in 1901 Mr A. K. Loyd was appointed to represent the National Society on the Central British Red Cross Committee, while Lord Knutsford became Chairman.

In 1903 Sir John Furley wrote to Lord Knutsford expressing his opinion that the Red Cross Society should be formed in the same way as other national societies and that it should be under the direct control of the military. Sir John Furley also suggested the National Society and the Central British Red Cross Committee should also be merged to form one society to represent the country as a whole. In response to this, a sub-committee was formed under the Chairmanship of Lord Knutsford to discuss this possibility although the National Society was not represented.

The Report of the Sub-Committee concluded that there should only be one officially recognised Central Red Cross authority, and the Foreign Office notified all the Foreign Chancelleries to effect that the Central British Red Cross was the only body authorised to deal with Red Cross matters. It was also decided that there could not be two bodies bearing the name of the Red Cross so the National Society would be once again known only by the title the ‘National Society to Aid the Sick and Wounded in War’ rather than its more informal title of British Red Cross Society, and for the Central British Red Cross the Committee would be removed in favour of Council. The National Society would be allowed to retain control of their funds, but would make grants to the Central British Red Cross Council.

In September 1904 Mr. A.K. Loyd replied to these suggestions in a memorandum re-stating that original purpose of the Central British Red Cross Committee was only to organise the other societies during peace and that it would be impossible for any other organisation to supersede the National Society or the Army Medical Service. Loyd also rejected the idea that the National Society would give grants to the Central Committee and maintained that the National Society’s funds would remain solely under their control.

In November 1904 Lord Knutsford sent a letter to the ‘Times’ appealing for funds on behalf of the Central British Red Cross Council, and the ‘Times’ also published another article in support of the Council. It was also agreed that the National Society would be allowed to keep the name of the British Red Cross Society, but as this would cause confusion Lord Knutsford invited the National Society to a conference to discuss the matter.

Lord Rothschild, the new Chairman of the National Society sent a letter of refusal stating that the National Society had no desire to reconstitute themselves into one central body along with the Council. However, on 14 March Lord Rothschild, Mr. Loyd and Mr. Vokes were invited to attend a meeting at Buckingham Palace along with Lord Knutsford, Sir John Furley and Major McCulloch to discuss their positions as the King was to make a final decision regarding the matter.

On 12 July a letter was sent from Buckingham Palace stating that King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra had decided that it was necessary to reconstitute the Red Cross movement in the United Kingdom and the Empire on a wider financial and administrative basis. This new body is to be called the British Red Cross Society, where the King would be Patron and the Queen President. The 42 ladies and gentlemen who had received the letter were invited to join this newly created Society to serve on the Council.

On 17 July the first Council Meeting was held at Buckingham Palace presided over by Queen Alexandra where both the National Society and the Central British Red Cross Council consented to join the new British Red Cross Society. It was also decided that as had previously been the case, the British Red Cross Society would not be directly under the control of the War Office (as in other national Red Cross Societies) but would work with it. Lord Rothschild was appointed to Chairman, with Lord Knutsford, Lord Esher, Major General Lord Cheylesmore and Mr. Loyd appointed as Vice-Chairmen.

On 25 October the Council of the National Society met and formally dissolved the National Society for Aid to the Sick and Wounded in War, with their funds becoming the funds of the British Red Cross Society.
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