History of the White Poppy

Photo by Nanki, reproduced under Creative Commons licence SUS-150409-144122001
Photo by Nanki, reproduced under Creative Commons licence SUS-150409-144122001

The white poppy was introduced by the Co-operative Woman’s Guild in 1933 as an alternative way of honouring the fallen on Remembrance Day.

The poppy is intended to honour anyone who died in any war and has long been linked to pacifist movements such as the Peace Pledge Union.

But the white poppy has drawn criticism from many who feel it diminishes the sacrifice of British soldiers symbolised by the red poppy.

Former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was a notable critic of the white poppy, saying she had a “deep distaste” for the symbol during Prime Minister’s Questions.

In November 2014, white poppy wreaths on the Aberystwyth War Memorial had to be replaced after they were forcibly removed from the memorial and thrown in a bin.

As a national organisation, the Royal British Legion has no official position on the white poppy with Legion spokesman, Stuart Gendall, saying it was a matter of choice.

Speaking in 2006, he said, “There is no message of glorification. What you wear is a matter of choice. The Legion doesn’t have a problem whether you wear a red one or a white one, both or none at all.

“It is up to you. We don’t comment on matters spiritual, poppies are there for the benefit of the living

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