Our royal ambassadors

We’re grateful for the longstanding support of the Queen and Princess Alexandra, who have helped to raise awareness about our vital work for more than 60 years.

The Queen attended the opening of our new office in Haywards Heath in 1971, alongside our founder Sir John Wilson (far right).

Our patron: the Queen

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth became patron of Sightsavers in 1957. The Queen granted our organisation royal status a year later when we became known as the Royal Commonwealth Society for the Blind.

In 1971, the Queen opened the charity’s new offices in Haywards Heath and has attended a number of events over the years.

During her patronage, the Queen has sent our staff many messages of support, including a celebratory telegram to the team who climbed Kilimanjaro in 1969 to challenge discrimination around disability.

The Queen stands outside the Royal Commonwealth Society for the Blind offices while a crowd looks on.
The Queen’s visit drew large crowds who waited outside to greet her.
The Queen smiles as she greets staff.
The Queen spoke to staff during the opening of the new offices.

Our president: Princess Alexandra

Her Royal Highness Princess Alexandra has been our president since 1960.

Princess Alexandra has attended numerous events and meetings on behalf of Sightsavers, including the World Bank’s River Blindness: 40th Anniversary Summit in Washington in 2014, and a global conference on ending neglected tropical diseases in 2016.

Princess Alexandra has spoken passionately about Sightsavers on many occasions, particularly about our work to eliminate neglected tropical diseases like river blindness.

Our CEO, Dr Caroline Harper CBE, said of Princess Alexandra’s support: “I shan’t forget her speech at the World Bank with their president Dr Jim Kim, which attracted a large audience and was very moving.

“Her dedication to blindness, and to the work we do on neglected tropical diseases shines out strongly, and we are so proud to have her as our president.”

Princess Alexandra stands with Dr Caroline Harper and other staff members in front of a banner for the Neglected Tropical Disease Network.
Princess Alexandra (centre) attending the Neglected Tropical Diseases NGDO Network reception in Washington DC in 2016.

“One can only be touched by helping children to feel free to play in rivers without risk of becoming blind.”
Princess Alexandra

Read about Sightsavers through the years

Our history