The Royal Navy Club’s primary charitable purpose is to support those in need who are the widows, widowers, siblings, orphan children and dependants of former members of the Club. The definition of “Dependants” will be considered in its broadest sense at the discretion of the Trustees. A registered charity, it relies on its Surplus Fund to provide this support. To that end the Club strongly encourages donations through legacies in wills, regular donations by Standing Order or even occasional one off donations.
The Club also provides opportunities for serving and retired members to dine together in order to renew friendships and to network.
Membership is restricted to officers of the Royal Navy, of the rank of Commander and above, serving or retired, who are or were eligible to be appointed to command one of HM warships at sea. In addition, officers of the Royal Navy of Lieutenant Commander’s rank henceforth appointed to command and qualified CQ2 or, serving or retired have proven command experience of one of HM seagoing warships, of 300 tons displacement or more, at sea, are also eligible to become members.
The Club currently consists of some 800 officers, both male and female (see Rules I and II). Dinners, for those who wish to attend, take place three times a year in London, Portsmouth and one in the regions of UK. These include one in February to celebrate Founders’ Day at which members of the Admiralty Board are dined as guests and a dinner to celebrate the Sovereign’s birthday. Other dinners commemorate naval achievements including, every year, Trafalgar. At these dinners the hallmark is the absence of any discrimination based on rank. Members of whatever seniority are “Fellow Officers”. (see Members’ Notices: Guest nights – guidance for members).
The Club traces its origins to a meeting of eight Captains on 4 February 1765 at which “it was resolved to set on foot a society of brother officers at the St Alban’s tavern on this day”. The meeting duly took place at which these eight Founders of the Club were joined by a further fifteen Captains and the title The Navy Society adopted.
In 1785 a second club was founded, The Navy Club of 1785, and in due course a high proportion of the members of both clubs were members of the other one. It became obvious to both clubs that union would be in their best interests, and this was achieved in 1889. The title of the united clubs was agreed upon as The Royal Navy Club of 1765 & 1785 (United 1889). Throughout the history of both clubs many of the most famous Admirals were members. Nelson was elected in 1784 and other well known names include Collingwood, Howe, Kempenfelt and St Vincent.
The Club marked its 250th anniversary in 2015 with a dinner held in the Painted Hall at Greenwich. The Guest of Honour was HRH the Princess Royal.