Queen Elizabeth II
No monarch has had a longer association with Wellington College than Queen Elizabeth II. Her first visit was in 1940 when, aged fourteen, she and her sister accompanied their parents on a morale-raising visit to the recently-bombed College. The two princesses’ signatures in our Visitors Book are a prized record of that special day.
The Queen’s visit was the centrepiece of Wellington’s Centenary celebrations in 1959. Accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh, Her Majesty spent a full day at the College. After inspecting the CCF Guard of Honour, she was introduced to the Prefects and had lunch in the Dining Hall. In the afternoon the royal party toured the College, including the Beresford dormitory and the Science buildings, finishing at Grubbies where the Duke tried his hand at selling sweets.
Queen Elizabeth next visited in 1974 to open Queen’s Court, named in her honour. The whole school assembled in the new building’s outdoor amphitheatre to see her unveil the commemorative plaque and present the Queen’s Medal. The royal party then toured the building before returning outside to hear the Choral Society and the Orchestra performing, appropriately, Haydn’s Achieved is the Glorious Work.
In 1993 Her Majesty came to Wellington again. On this occasion she opened the new Hopetoun building, attended a Service of Thanksgiving in Chapel, and met students in the Newsome Sports Hall. In Combermere Quad she presented the Queen’s Medal and addressed the whole school.
The Queen’s last official visit was in 2009, to commemorate the College’s 150th anniversary. Escorted by the Master and the Head Boy and Girl, she opened the Modern Languages Institute, visited the V&A Café, and saw displays of art and drama.
Her Majesty’s keen memory and attention to detail have been evident on each occasion. Each time she has made reference to her own previous visits and those of her predecessors. Wellington College has indeed been privileged to call her our Visitor.