More to Wealth – The Philanthropic Revolution and Queen Victoria

people Dan Snow 14/09/2018

On Wednesday evening Sandaire guests were welcomed through the gates of Kensington Palace for the sixth ‘More to Wealth’ Lecture.

Upon arrival at the Palace Pavilion guests were greeted with a Champagne reception overlooking the Diana Memorial Garden, before settling in their seats within the Pavilion prior to the lecture beginning. With the location being not only a Palace but a current Royal residence, what better way than to frame the stage that our speakers would be taking than with Royal Wedding florist Philippa Craddock’s stunning arrangements, setting the Royal tone for the evening, and the subject matters to come, perfectly.

With guests seated with a drink in hand, Sandaire Founder, Alex Scott, took to the stage to welcome everyone and gave a brief background into why the ‘More to Wealth’ series was created six years ago. Alex noted that there is ‘More to Wealth’ than simply managing investments and the initiative was launched to promote a deeper understanding on the concept of wealth.

“The premise is simple: we invite leading minds from different fields to present their opinion on the concept of wealth”Alex Scott

In addition to this, Alex introduced the subject matter for the evening, Philanthropy, and handed over to renowned BBC Historian and key speaker for the evening, Dan Snow. Dan Spoke to our guests about 19th century Britain and the progression of philanthropy at the time, affected by religion, wealth and the status of the monarchy. Dan discussed the progression from the end of the 18th century, where royal figures all over Europe were falling and concern was rising that poverty may cause unrest, through into the 19th century and Queen Victoria’s reign. Within this time it was made very clear that unless the monarchy re-invented themselves and portrayed themselves as members of society who were benefiting their people and helping, that they would potentially ‘face the chop’.

Queen Victoria, as a woman in Victorian Britain, was secluded to a certain extent from politics and would no longer lead an army into battle and so, had to reinvent her role. Dan remarked that,

“royal authority could no longer be determined by divine right or military might but instead, paternalism”.

Dan noted that this was the case for other women also, as they were denied access to politics, jobs and trade but they were not denied access to become philanthropists, and so many initiatives, for example orphanages, were run by women. Dan continued to state that Queen Victoria was patron to 150 institutions in her reign and by 1851, in her first 20 years as Queen, she had given personally to 210 initiatives, 50 schools, 37 hospitals and 21 churches. Prince Albert, her husband, was also a philanthropist, but more data lead and was also highly interested in giving and helping to build sustainability.

This is how the Victorian age, in Dan’s words, became the “golden age of philanthropy”, as there was the alliance between pragmatism and belief, vast amounts of money being made vs problems that needed fixing and, if these problems were not fixed, then people were concerned they may be faced with catastrophic unrest.

Dan rounded off his speech by noting that, of course, by the end of the Victorian era the problems were not solved but there was a definite revolution, of which, philanthropists were at the heart. These philanthropists understood that “unless everyone was able to share in prosperity, no one would.” Victoria had achieved her aim, to reinvent the monarchy and cement the role of the Monarch as a donor and a figurehead for philanthropic exertions.

We would like to thank Dan for setting the perfect tone for our evening, giving us an insight into 19th century Britain, and the woman behind the crown during the ‘philanthropic revolution’, linking our location at Kensington Palace as her birthplace and our private viewing of the ‘Victoria Revealed’ exhibition. Following Dan’s speech he handed over to our panel facilitator for the evening, Melissa Berman, President of Rockefeller Philanthropy advisors, to fast forward us from the 19th century, touching on the Rockefeller family’s approach to philanthropy, to what Philanthropy looks like today.

Our next feature on our ‘More to Wealth’ event will follow soon and focus on Melissa and Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors.

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