The Royal Variety Charity may have had fairly simple beginnings but after more than a century of filling a real need in the entertainment world, it has gathered an incredible heritage of taking care of those who have entertained us through the years.

It all began early in the last century, 1908 to be precise The Royal Variety Charity was established in 1908 but there was no specific Royal Variety Show until four years later in 1912. That was attended by King George V and Her Majesty Queen Mary. They were there again at the next show in 1919, the First World War having put paid to any more shows for a while. It was not an annual event but a few years later it became totally established when in 1921 the royal couple became Patrons of the Royal Variety Show, a Life-Patronage which is handed from reigning monarch to reigning monarch.

It is not just a token gesture either because the royal family throughout those generations has been actively supporting of the charity, its shows and other fund-raising events.

Who was on that first Royal Command Performance as it was called in 1912 at the Palace Theatre? Harry Lauder, Harry Tate, the ‘Prime Minister of Mirth’ George Robey, dancer Anna Pavolva, Vesta Tilley, Little Tich and the ‘White-Eyed Kaffir’ G.H.Chirgwin, ensuring triumph. There were many others of course but no Marie Lloyd. The biggest of stars at that time she was considered a little too unpredictable to be included.

The money raised by this performance went to the Variety Artistes’ Benevolent Fund, now known of course as the Royal Variety Charity. It enabled proposed plans to build an extension to its Care Home for elderly entertainers, Brinsworth House, to go ahead..

Since then the Royal Command Performance has become the Royal Variety Show and more recently the Royal Variety Performance. Members of the Royal Family have willingly attended the annual spectacular combining their delight in helping genuine charities with their love 

for entertainment. Didn’t Her Majesty the Queen once appear in panto? Oh yes, she did, when she was a young girl of course.

The Royal Variety Show has been a success story all the way from those early years

 right up to the present. Brinsworth House is still going strong and provides a residential and nursing care home entertainers. Some people are long-term residents while others are there for just a short break. Either way, all are welcome and the stories that are heard at tea-time are as good as any showbusiness history documentary.

Every performer who appears on the Royal Variety Performance is making a contribution to the Royal Variety Charity and Brinsworth House. Perhaps you would also like to help in some way. If so, who not take a look at Royal Variety Charity or email peter@royalvarietycharity.org.

Help is always much appreciated and can make you a part of the heritage that it is the Royal Variety Charity.

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