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Charles and Camilla launch Royal British Legion’s centenary poppy appeal

The Prince of Wales (front centre) and Duchess of Cornwall (third right front), with ten Royal British Legion (RBL) Poppy Appeal collectors: (front row L-R) Lesleyanne Gardner, Jill Gladwell, Vera Parnaby, Billy Wilde, and (back row L-R) David Kelsey, Andy Owens, Anne-Marie Cobley, Maisie Mead, Lance Corporal Ashley Martin and Mirza Shahzad at Clarence House, London, during the official launch of the centenary poppy appeal. Pic by Victoria Jones

By Tony Jones, PA Court Correspondent

The Prince of Wales has launched the Royal British Legion’s (RBL) centenary poppy appeal with his wife and said the floral tribute was “as relevant today as it ever was”.

Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall met 10 volunteer collectors – one for each decade of the appeal – at Clarence House on Tuesday to mark the start of this year’s campaign to raise funds and awareness for the RBL.

The red poppy – a common sight on the Western Front – became a symbol of remembrance for those killed in the First World War as the conflict drew to a close.

The prince said: “In November 1921, the Royal British Legion’s first Poppy Appeal took place and the nation adopted the annual tradition of placing a small red flower on their clothing to signify respect and support for the Armed Forces community, their service and their sacrifice.

“The significance of the poppy is as relevant today as it ever was while our Armed Forces continue to be engaged in operations overseas and often in the most demanding of circumstances.

“The simple act of wearing a poppy is only made possible because of volunteer Poppy Appeal collectors who share a common goal – to recognise the unique contribution of the Armed Forces community.”

The Covid-19 pandemic meant poppy collectors could not go out into the community during 2020 but the tradition will resume this year in the run-up to Armistice Day.

Charles and Camilla met Jill Gladwell, 95, who is celebrating 80 years of collecting for the Poppy Appeal this year.

She began as a schoolgirl during the Second World War after being inspired by her mother who collected in the 1920s and now five generations of her family are involved, including her great-great-niece, Charlotte, who is 10.

Mrs Gladwell, whose mother was one of the RBL’s first collectors, said: “I started collecting when I was 14 in 1940 and even then I knew the Poppy Appeal was important to the wounded men who had fought for the country and for peace.

“My father followed the legion’s motto ‘Service not self’ and I’m so happy to be back out collecting to support the Armed Forces community and their families this year.”

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