A Guiding Gift for the Royal Baby

On Friday, 29/4/1927, the Duke and Duchess of York (later to become King George VI and Queen Elizabeth) visited Ballarat. They were greeted by Guides at the Arch of Victory where one of the smallest Brownies presented the Duchess with a doll dressed in Guide uniform as a gift for the baby Princess Elizabeth (now Queen Elizabeth II).

PricessElizandMarg1937Ever since the Princess Royal, Mary, became President of the Girl Guide Association in 1920, the Guides have maintained close connections with the British Royal family. The connection was made closer still when, in 1937, Princess Margaret (aged 7) became a Brownie, and her sister, heiress presumptive Princess Elizabeth (aged 11), became a Guide . Elizabeth later became a Sea Ranger in 1943.

The royal nanny at the time, Marion Crawford, supported by parents King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, believed that the two little princesses should live as normal lives as possible. The princesses were excited about the idea of being treated as equals with ordinary girls.

Buckingham Palace Units

The 1st Buckingham Palace Guide Company was formed by Miss Synge and was composed of twenty Guides and fourteen Brownies who were all daughters of court officials and palace employees. Princess Mary (Elizabeth and Margaret's aunt), enrolled the girls herself. Princess Elizabeth cooked over a campfire, pitched tents, tied knots, and earned badges, just like any other Guide of her day.

In 1944, the Girl Guide Association presented Elizabeth with a camping set for her 18th birthday. In 1946 Elizabeth became Chief Ranger of the British Empire. When she married in 1947, two of her bridesmaids were former Guides.

Elizabeth wrote of her time as a Guide:

"I have fond memories of my years as a Sea Ranger, and of becoming Chief Ranger of the British Empire, and then Patron of the Guiding Association. While the core values remain constant, I have been delighted to watch it evolve, led by the ambitions and needs of the girls of today."

PrincessAnne1966The royal Guide unit closed between 1940 and 1942 due to World War II. The girls were associated with a Balmoral Company unit until their own company reopened. In 1959, when the Queen's daughter, Princess Anne, was nine years old, she joined the royal Brownie unit. Princess Margaret's daughter also became a Brownie, joining the 7th Kensington Brownie Pack. After the death of the Princess Mary in 1965, the position of President of the Guides passed to Princess Margaret. When Margaret died in 2003, Elizabeth's daughter-in-law (wife of Prince Edward), HRH Sophie, Countess of Wessex, became President of GirlGuiding UK.


The Queen Mother was an early supporter of Guiding

The Queen Mother was an early supporter of Guiding

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Other Royal Girl Guides

Information about other members of the Royal Family who have been involved in Guiding has been sourced from the research of Leslie at Leslie's Guiding History Site

  • Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyll

    Princess Louise was the daughter of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. 

    Princess Louise was appointed as the first Royal Patrol of Girl Guides in 1916.  In 1920 she asked that the Dunbartonshire Girl Guides be renamed to "Princess Louise's Own", a name they have kept ever since.  The Dunbartonshire Guide County are permitted to use a Royal Cypher on their County Banner and badges.

    When Princess Louise died at Kensington Palace on 3 December 1939, aged 91,  members of the Dunbartonshire Guide Companies attended a commemorative service at St Modan's Parish Church, Roseneath, held simultaneously with her funeral service at Windsor in England.

  • Princess Mary

    Princess Mary was the daughter of King George V.  She became Norfolk County Commissioner in 1917, then President of the Girl Guides Association, a role she continued in until her death in 1965.  

    A house was gifted to the Guides to hold training session. To help with funding renovations, Princess Mary donated £10000; some a wedding present from all the girls in the empire named 'Mary' (£6000) and the rest raised by showing her wedding gifts ( £4000).  Due to this, the house was named "Princess Mary House, Foxlease", and the Princess Mary frequently visited.

    Princess Mary continued to be an active President, attending gatherings, rallies and meetings, for the rest of her life, through to her passing in 1965.

  • Princess Alice

  • The Queen Mother

    Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, later Queen Elizabeth, then Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother

    Before marrying Prince Albert George, later King George VI, Lady Elizabeth served in Guiding as a District Commissioner. 

  • Princess Elizabeth

    Details as above.

    Princess Elizabeth held positions of Patrol Second and Patrol Leader of the Kingfisher patrol.  She enjoyed cricket, drill, folk dancing and wide games, but was not too keen on needlework.

    When Princess Elizabeth turned 16, she moved to Sea Rangers. The SRS President II was set up, and the Sea Rangers were able to enjoy boating and rowing.  When her time as a Ranger ended, she was appointed to the role of Chief Ranger. 

    When Elizabeth became Queen, she gave up the role of Chief Ranger, and took on the role of 'Patron of the Girl Guide Association', a role which she continued for the rest of her life.

  • Princess Margaret

    Details as above.

    Princess Margaret become a Brownies in 1937 at the 1st Buckingham Palace Company.  She was a member of the Leprechaun six, and worked on her Golden Bar badge. 

    Margaret progress from Brownies to Guides, then became a Ranger, and later Chief Ranger. 

    Following the death of Princess Mary, Margaret took over as President of the Girl Guides Association, and was actively involved, presiding at annual meetings and hosting receptions for Queen's Guides, until her own death.

  • Princess Anne

    Princess Anne was the daughter of Queen Elizabeth.

    Anne was a member of the 1st Buckingham Palace Brownie Pack and progressed to Guides.

  • Lady Sarah Armstrong-Jones

    Lady Sarah Armstrong-Jones (later Lady Sarah Chatto) made her Promise in 1971 as a member of the 7th Kensington Brownie Pack.

  • Kate Middleton

    Catherine, Princess of Wales, is the wife of Prince William, heir to the throne.

    Kate Middleton, joined the 1st St Andrew's Brownie Pack as an 8 year old.

  • Countess of Wessex

    When Princess Margaret died in February 2002, HRH The Countess of Wessex took over the role of President of Girlguiding UK. 

    The role includes presenting members with the Queen's Guide Award, and even attending Guiding events.  

  • Lady Louise Windsor

    Lady Louse Windsor was both a Brownie and a Girl Guide