Foundation and Royal Patronage

We were founded by HRH The Duke of York, later HM King George VI, in 1925 as the National Playing Fields Association and are proud of our long heritage protecting parks and green spaces. Our Royal Charter in Incorporation was granted by HM King George V, our first Patron, in 1932. Today we are fortunate to have the active support of our President HRH The Prince of Wales who took over this role when HRH The Duke of Edinburgh retired after 64 years. The late Queen served as Patron throughout the seven decades of her reign and are extremely grateful for her decades of support.

Our tribute to The late Queen


Discover more about our nine decades of history in this interactive archive which charts the story of our founding, early appeals, King George's Fields, play leadership, technical guidance, Queen Elizabeth II Fields Challenge and more.

Explore the archive

Explore our history
HRH The Duke of Edinburgh KG KT

During his long and committed service HRH The Duke of Edinburgh was involved in every aspect of the organisation. As well as regularly working in the office he attended opening ceremonies of protected parks and playing fields, played in many fundraising cricket matches and hosted charity galas. We are enormously indebted to The Duke for his support and were deeply saddened to learn of his passing aged 99 in April 2021.

Our tribute to The Duke


His Royal Highness in his cricket whites, taking part in a fundraising cricket match

Greeting Roger Moore, Maud Adams, Christopher Lee and Britt Ekland at a fundraising event

Attending an event with our then Patron, The late Queen

Receiving a silver salver to mark £1 million in donations from the Lord's Taverners

Historic Protection Programmes

Over the last nine decades we have protected over 2,800 parks and green spaces across the UK in perpetuity. We have used different mechanisms of protection over the years and run a variety of specific protection programmes.

  • Covenanted Fields: A covenant is a legal agreement governing what can and cannot be done on the land.  
  • King George V Fields: Following the death in 1936 of our founder, King George V, 471 parks and playing fields were protected following donations of both money and land as a fitting memorial. The spaces are clearly identifiable by the heraldic plaques that signify their status as a King George V Field.
  • Carnegie Fields: In 1927, the Carnegie UK Trust allocated £200,000 (the equivalent of around £10 million today) to support the creation, protection and improvement of playing fields across the UK.
  • Owain Glyndwr Fields: A dedicated programme protected 33 fields in Wales to commemorate the Prince of Wales' 600th anniversary in 2004.
  • Queen Elizabeth II Fields (QE in Scotland): Building on the tradition of the King George V Fields we marked the Diamond Jubilee of our Patron, HM The Queen, by protecting a legacy of parks and green spaces throughout the UK in perpetuity. In all 1,392 spaces were protected including children’s playgrounds, bicycle trails, woodlands, nature reserves and coastal paths. Coinciding with the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games and extending into the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games this project, supported by Asda and the Asda Foundation, secured investment of £4 million into these spaces.
  • Centenary Fields: Working across the UK in partnership with The Royal British Legion we secured recreational spaces in perpetuity to honour the memory of the millions of people who lost their lives in World War I. The Centenary Fields programme was launched in 2014 by Fields in Trust President HRH The Duke of Cambridge and concluded with the centenary of Armistice Day in November 2018.
  • Active Spaces: Launched in May 2017 this programme worked to protect 50 spaces and increase participation in many different physical activities on local parks and green spaces by creating activity projects to inspire the most inactive communities to get active. Funded by the London Marathon Charitable Trust, Active Spaces was their first UK-wide funding programme.