Anger at Royal British Legion name change

Sir Norman Arthur presents medals to Gulf veterans. Picture: Allan Milligan

Sir Norman Arthur presents medals to Gulf veterans. Picture: Allan Milligan

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A NAME change that has seen the Royal British Legion Scotland rebranded as Legion Scotland has been criticised by old soldiers in the run-up to Remembrance Sunday.

Controversy has engulfed the veterans’ charity after the change of name came to light in The Scotsman this week.

Some veterans are dismayed by the move and pro-Union supporters have taken to social media to complain about the removal of the word British from the official title of the organisation, formed at the end of the First World War to look after those who have served in the armed forces.

Last night, the charity defended the rebranding exercise, pointing out that the legal name remained the Royal British Legion Scotland.

It was the “trading name” that had been changed to Legion Scotland in order to differentiate it from the Royal British Legion, which is based south of the Border and has always been a separate charity.

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But the wisdom of changing identity during referendum year was questioned by Lt General Sir Norman Arthur, formerly Scotland’s most senior soldier.

“I for one am certainly someone who would be upset by this,” said Sir Norman, who campaigned for a No vote before the 18 September poll.

“I think that to rebrand the Royal British Legion Scotland as Legion Scotland is a giveaway. I imagine it has been done for practical reason on the basis that they will get more subscriptions. But the other side is that people who have subscribed in the past and who, like me are upset about this, are less likely to subscribe.”

Sir Norman was appointed commanding officer of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards in 1972 and was mentioned in dispatches in 1974 during the regiment’s service in Northern Ireland. He later commanded the 7th Armoured Brigade – the Desert Rats – before becoming General Officer Commanding Scotland. He retired from the army in 1988.

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Further criticism was posted on the pro-Union Facebook group “I am British and Proud”. Legion Scotland closed down the comments section on its Facebook page after it was inundated with critical comments.

Today, Legion Scotland, which is the largest veterans’ charity in Scotland, will issue a statement in an attempt to clear up the situation.

The statement will say that many of the Facebook comments stem from confusion between the two charities with similar names. Legion Scotland (The Royal British Legion Scotland) and The Royal British Legion (TRBL) are, and always have been since they were both separately established in 1921, completely discrete charities.

TRBL runs the poppy appeal in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. In Scotland, the poppy appeal is organised by Poppy Scotland, a separate charity.

Kevin Gray MM, CEO of Legion Scotland, said: “The day-to-day name of ‘Legion Scotland’ has been in place since May 2014 and was launched, along with new services, to place the charity in a stronger position to help the ex-service community of Scotland.

“It helps to clearly differentiate us as a charity from The Royal British Legion (TRBL) group of charities.”

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