Royal Albert Hall
Music is the life blood of the Royal Albert Hall and was used by various parties throughout the First World War to do everything from rally and rouse and to indeed, remember. The type and tone of music that was played changed as the war progressed, and very much reflected the mood of the nation: from the cheering and patriotic numbers of 1914, to sombre, more reflective pieces as the War progressed.
In the immediate aftermath of victory, however, a more buoyant tone prevailed. A series of balls and concerts of thanksgiving were held, in part to celebrate, but always with the important function of raising funds for veterans’ organisations and charities supporting the armed forces community.
On 16 November 1918, just five days after the Armistice, a Service of Thanksgiving was held. Attended by King George V, Queen Mary, the Prince of Wales, Princess Mary, the Prime Minister and Herbert Asquith, this was the largest Thanksgiving Service in Britain. The emphasis was on ‘peace, reflection and giving thanks’.
And so it is this year that the Hall will once again say Thank You. Thank You in particular to the nine young members of staff who answered the King’s call in 1914 and went off to war. Thank you especially to a cleaner called Albert Rumbelow, a lifetime Hall employee who volunteered to fight.
In the summer of 1916, he was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal for ‘Conspicuous Gallantry’. Sadly, Rumbelow, like so many others, was not lucky enough to see the War out. He died aged 40, shortly before the end of the war, at Preston Hall military hospital in Ashford, Kent. He was married with four young children.
There is perhaps no longer, nor more enduring, partnership in the charity world, than that of the Royal British Legion and the Royal Albert Hall.
The annual Festival of Remembrance was first held at the Hall in 1923. Held in the presence of HRH The Prince of Wales, it has been attended by members of the Royal Family and been hosted at the Hall ever since.
This year the Hall will play host to the 95th annual Festival of Remembrance. On the day, collections will be held in aid of the Royal British Legion and, as was the case back in 1918, this year’s Festival will be part commemorative but also Service of Thanksgiving.
This year the Royal Albert Hall says, ‘Thank You’.