It's one of the oldest and highest awards in the Scout movement, recognised around the world as a symbol of outstanding achievement in Scouting. Discover the origins of this award and how we're able to add something a little special for our Hampshire King's Scouts.
It's 1909 and its barely two years after the camp that started it all and only one year after the Scout Association itself was founded. The movement was looking for a top award, over and above the First Class test.
That year the King's Scout Award was granted by King Edward VII. He was a keen supporter of the movement and he had invited Robert Baden-Powell, the Scouts' founder, to a weekend at Balmoral Castle to thank him. In an after dinner conversation, the King and the Chief Scout got chatting about the movement and Baden-Powell suggested that Scouts who passed special tests for efficiency should be ranked as King's Scouts. The King agreed and the award was announced in the Headquarters Gazette in November as an award for 'Scouts who prove themselves able and willing to serve the King, should their service at any time be required by him.'
Even though each application had to be sent to headquarters and approved by the Chief Scout personally, and the list of requirements was challenging, a large number of Scouts had achieved this within a year as the 1910 census records 1,632 King's Scouts.
The award has changed over time in both who can earn it and of course its name. The award has been re-confirmed by each new monarch over time and resulting in its name change to the Queen's Scout Badge in 1952 with the accession of Queen Elizabeth II.
The now famous annual review of these Scouts at Windsor Castle began in 1934 and in 1946 with the introduction of the Senior Scouts section, the award became the sole privilege of the Senior Scouts between 15 and 18. When the Senior Scouts was replaced in 1967 by Venture Scouts, the newly renamed Queen's Scout Award became the top award for that section. This would continue until the splitting of Venture Scouts into Explorer Scouts and Scout Network in 2002 when the award opened up to all Scouts aged 16-25.
With the sad passing of the Scouts' patron Queen Elizabeth II, the award once again returned to its roots and became the King's Scout Award with a new design based on the colours of those first badges and the new crown worn by King Charles III.
It may have changed its name and look down the years, however it has remained the pinnacle of many a Scout journey. It represents mastering a full range of skills for life and getting fully involved in all the Scout programme gives our young people.
Did you know we in Hampshire have our own special tradition with the award? And it involves a member of the Royal family and an award from India.
The Silver Elephant is the highest adult award for Scouting in India, similar to the UK's Silver Wolf award. This particular award was presented to Lord Louis Mountbatten, uncle of Prince Philip, when he was Governor General of India in recognition of his services to the Scout in India as their Chief Scout.
When he returned to the UK, he remained a good friend of the Scouts and of Hampshire Scouts with his family home at Broadlands, Romsey. Following his sudden and untimely death in 1979, the Silver Elephant was presented to the county by Countess Mountbatten of Burma when she opened the Mountbatten Lodge at Ferny Crofts Scout Activity Centre in June 1986. The Silver Elephant is on indefinite loan to be held safe by the County Commissioner.
It has become customary that a young person has the privilege of wearing it while being presented their Queen’s and later their King's Scout Award.